Who knew that when I started this blog about sustaining marriage, I’d be writing about how to heal through a divorce? I suppose divorce is also one of those unexpected outcomes of marriage, so it fits. However, that doesn’t change the shock of it all, and the idea that divorce wasn’t suppose to be MY TRUTH.
I don’t care who you are, NO ONE gets married to get divorced. Couples do not enter into a marriage with all the tools necessary to build a strong union. In fact, many of them don’t know that they need a hammer until, they need a hammer. For that reason, it’s unfair to suggest that couples, “see things coming.” I most certainly did not.
No matter how challenging my marriage became, I did not foresee me readjusting or being in our marital home alone. I always knew…no, I thought, or maybe I hoped that he wanted the marriage as bad as I did. Maybe he did want the marriage, but for different reasons than I did. Nevertheless, here I am, embracing the change and living this new life.
The most challenging part about embracing this new sense of ‘self’ is getting through the loneliness. To spend almost 6 years or any amount of time, with someone traveling, dining, planning, living, talking, working, praying, arguing or whatever we did, can be almost traumatizing to one day wake up and not experience it anymore.
Some would argue that actually being “alone” and feeling “lonely” are two different things. I would argue the same. I know that I’m not alone. I have friends, some family, and even some strangers who wouldn’t allow me to walk this journey by myself.
However, when they are busy or not at “arms reach” or better yet, when they aren’t the partner I thought God assigned to me, it creates a sense of ‘loneliness’ or feeling like I am walking this path by myself. Loneliness occurs when what a person wants does not align with what they ‘get.’ I could have a million people call me in a day, but if the call is not from the one person I want it to be from, it’s like the phone never rang…THAT IS LONELINESS.
Loneliness is irrational, it is self-sabotaging and it is quite typical to experience during ANY grieving process. It is important not to let the feeling of loneliness prevent you from prospering and most importantly, put you in a position to choose the same type of partner again.
Here are 5 ways to embrace loneliness after a divorce…
1. Accept It
Like any emotion, when we allow our body and spirit to ‘sit’ with it long enough, it passes. This is the theory behind, “time heals all wounds.” I still debate about that “all” part, but it is true, that when one does the internal ‘work’ as they heal, the unpleasant emotions and desires to act on them will go away. It doesn’t happen over night, but with each moment of meditating, praying, ignoring and replacing, the loneliness begins to fade.
Throughout this process, there were countless nights when I wanted to give “IN” (and some nights I did) to loneliness. I wanted to call him, see him one last time for old times sake, let him stay the night because I didn’t want to feel like anything changed, and for a minute, I convinced myself that even AFTER the divorce, he and I could date again. See how loneliness will have a person right back where they started?
Being back where I started was NOT an option. Therefore, I had to start accepting those “missing him” moments as typical, temporary states and not traits.
To avoid giving “IN,” to loneliness, change the logic or thought process associated with why you need that person to be there. Instead of telling yourself that “you’re going to be alone,” tell yourself that “you’re preparing yourself for better, and that you’re not alone.” Tell yourself that “YOU being with YOU makes you stronger” because it does. Also, tell yourself that “not all change is bad.”
It is highly likely the marriage ended for reasons more intense than loneliness, which means “those lonely moments” are much easier to get through than you think they are.
2. Get closer to your higher power
If you are spiritually inclined, then it should not be hard to fathom the idea that “things” happen for a reason and that no experience comes without a lesson. Sometimes, we put so much of who we are into “people” that we forget what our purpose in life is. Yes, serving others is a great gesture and it can be rewarding. Because of this, it is easy and quite addictive to get caught up in the accolades of pleasing others, so much so, that we lose ourselves.
Serving “people” allows us to become blind to the fact that people are flawed, therefore capable of hurting us, increasing the deceptive thought that all we need is “someone to do right by us…”
“Naw,” we need to do right by ourselves first, and the only way to do that is to get closer to God. God has a way of getting us by ourselves to prepare us for our next journey. This sometimes looks like parting ways with people we thought would be in our lives forever. Key-phrase: “WE THOUGHT…” God never told us this person would be with us forever, but when we live according to the plans of “people,” those plans almost never work out.
You ever seen the memes on social media that says, “Be her peace or be his peace?” It’s all deception. The only peace you can have is internal peace and that is provided by God. People CAN NOT be another person’s peace (read that again). People can be quiet while you’re with them, but they can’t bring you peace.
A very good friend of mine (M.E 😘) reminded me of this during one of my vent sessions. I was speaking on how I become so ‘chill’ around certain people. She immediately said, “Nya, that’s your problem, find chill in yourself and do it through getting closer to God. That way, no matter what you’re going through or who you’re with, you will have peace…” She was absolutely correct.
Shortly after, I embraced distance from people and I began to pray. I started doing daily devotionals, journaling more, and having ‘talks’ with God, every time I felt lonely. It is still a process and sometimes irrational thoughts arise, but that is when I pray harder, re-read the devotionals and carry out acts of faith. Believing in something you can’t see is everything.
3. Create new memories
A lot of times people experience loneliness because they are longing for what ‘use’ to be. Now is the time to do things differently and be OK with new results.
There is a lot of fear surrounding the act of change and for this reason, most people don’t do it. There can not be any growth without discomfort. There is no better time than post-divorce to find out who YOU really are.
Create new memories by breaking or modifying old traditions. For example, instead of thinking about Thanksgiving with your ex-spouse, have Thanksgiving with just friends and/or your family. The holidays can be difficult for a lot of people who have lost loved ones, so use this time to adjust. Staying in the past, increases the likeliness of depression and prevents us from moving forward.
Live your life!! Make plans to get out of the house more; find local concerts, comedy shows and events and just go; travel to different cities; flirt with someone; go dancing and don’t forget to scream and shout when the DJ asks, “Where are all my single people?”
Don’t be afraid to do things alone. There are more date-nights to be had, especially if you can master dating yourself. Confidence never gets old and it will always, attract others.
4. Find a support group
People grieve every day, which means there are support groups that help cope with loneliness. Group therapy is very powerful. Its main purpose is to challenge the irrational thoughts associated with being “lonely.” Imagine sitting in a room with 15-20 people who share the same experience, no judgment, only solutions and healing. The positive feedback empowers you and validates the path to being independent again.
The process of group therapy is very similar to individual therapy except, the group is considered one entity. It doesn’t focus on one person. It focuses on the group and how members can collectively resolve a significant concern together.
To find group therapy sites or agencies that provide group therapy, check with your local hospitals, churches, mental health and community centers.
5. Create an inspirational playlist
Just like the food we eat, what we listen to is very influential on the soul. When we feel lonely, it is so easy to turn up that “same sad song…” We want validation that our pain is real and what better way to get it, than to hear someone we don’t know sing about the same thing? Lets not do that. Time out for the “yeah, that’s right…” Create a playlist that inspires and instills hope for the future. The goal is to move forward, not backwards and anything that stunts the growth of the healing process should be avoided.
Some songs I’d recommend are “I’m You” by Leona Lewis, “First Love” by Kirk Franklin, “Even Angels” by Fantasia and “Firework” by Katy Perry, just to name a few.
Podcasts are just as influential. I like Joel Osteen’s and Andrea P. Jackson’s, “Our Mirror’s Reflection.”
The important part is that in times of loneliness, we find what elevates and not deflates. It is never about what happens to us, as it is about how we heal. Poor coping skills and repetitive negative thoughts can have a major impact on how we progress. It’s like breaking a leg and still trying to walk around on it. Be kind to yourself. Sit down, let the broken heart heal and don’t rush its mend. I promise, you will be stronger than you were before the marriage even began.
Best wishes to all who are on a healing journey…
This post was written to decrease feelings of loneliness amongst those who are grieving or experiencing a loss.
Nya B is an author, mental health clinician, speaker and adjunct professor in Behavioral Arts and Sciences. To learn more, check out her website, http://www.nya-b.com. Follow her on IG and Twitter @author_nya_b and on Facebook under Nya B.