Loneliness and Divorce
Feeling alone or lonely is something that can be experienced by anyone at anytime and there are many reasons that might cause someone to feel lonely. Loneliness is a perfectly natural and very common feeling, but if the loneliness is felt over the long term and the feeling is left unresolved, then it will start to impact upon our mental health.
Divorce is widely recognised as the second most stressful life event that we might face and so the variety of emotion surrounding it is undoubted. Divorce is described by some as feeling like a form of bereavement, and it is undoubted that letting go of various aspects of your life and bringing in the changes that inevitably follow can cause a flurry of different emotions including upset, grief, stress, fear and loneliness.
Loneliness linked to divorce is a very common feeling and the loneliness can be caused by differing aspects of the life changes we are presented with. Divorce usually means that we find ourselves living in a new home and that our home life, which was previously bustling with your partner, children and even pets, is suddenly very different. Living in a new environment, and finding yourself alone whilst your children spend time with your ex, can leave periods of time that feel like a void. It is during these periods that we might begin to feel a sensation of loneliness.
Divorce not only has a direct impact upon the divorcing couple, it also has an obvious direct impact upon any children to the marriage. Married couples often develop a shared friendship group and the impact upon these friendships is often overlooked. The dynamics of these relationships are placed under serious stress when a couple divorce and the change in the dynamic of the friendship group might create a feeling of loneliness for either party to the divorce.
When we marry we gain family members and a family group is extended. We gain new ears to bend and shoulders to cry on. It is again often overlooked that divorce ends these extended family relationships, and that following divorce our family circle shrinks. Again, this can add to the sudden feeling of loneliness.
How to Deal with Loneliness
Dealing with the loneliness that might follow divorce, and accepting that the feeling is normal is very important and there are some accepted methods that can help us deal with and manage the loneliness we might be feeling.
1. Learn to Love Yourself
When so much time is invested in caring for and loving others, we often forget how to love ourselves. Loving yourself might be even more difficult if you hold any sense of blame for the end of the marriage. Taking some time each day to look after your own well being can make a significant difference to our lives when we are experiencing difficult times and loneliness. Booking the hair or nail appointment you have previously put off or even just treating yourself to a long soak in a bath whilst you relax and read a book are things that focus upon you and your wellbeing. Taking conscious care of your eating and sleeping habits will also pay dividends in improving your self esteem and learning to enjoy alone time will help you move forward and combat loneliness.
2. Engage in your Hobbies
Marriage can often see us put things we enjoy doing on hold. We find ourselves consumed by married life and we feel that the time to engage in our hobbies simply isn't available. Following divorce, as we re-engage with ourselves, time is suddenly not at such a premium and we have the capability to engage in our old hobbies or even take up new ones. Taking time to do something that you enjoy will assist greatly in overcoming any periods of loneliness.
3. Pick up the Telephone
Where shared friendships are tested following divorce, it is also the case that marriage can often see us distance ourselves from some close friends. The period following divorce allows time to evaluate friendships and provides the chance to focus on being around people that make you happy. A strong and happy friendship group are essential and the period following divorce allows opportunity to spring clean your group and to focus on those who make you happiest. Feeling loved and valued is important to everyone and so pick up the telephone and reconnect with those who you bond well with and who make you feel happy.
4. Change your Routine
Married life often brings us a routine which is set in stone; school runs, bed times, after school clubs all set around our working lives leaves little room for manoeuvre. Whilst the married life routine is binding, the regularity of the routine provides many with a sense of safety. If you feel affected by the loss of your daily married routine then it is important to create a new routine which focusses on you and on what you like to do. Your new routine should make time for self care, hobbies and spending time with friends. Maintaining the regularity of a routine but ensuring the routine focuses on what you want to do will help overcome the loss of your married routine.
The above are recognised ways in which we can deal with loneliness following divorce. However, if you find that loneliness is consuming you and causing you difficulty that you cannot overcome using the methods above, then we recommend that you make contact with your GP who will be able to help or signpost you to support agencies who will be able to help you.