Loneliness is an uninvited guest that knocks on your door, is always happy to overstay its welcome and engulfs you at a moment’s notice.
Being lonely isn’t the same as being alone. You can feel the most loved person in a room full of friends or family, but if there is an iota of loneliness camped out in your heart, there is no one but yourself who can bid it farewell. Loneliness is a necessary demon we all come face to face with at some point.
It can appear in your marriage, in separation or divorce – it’s the loss of a connection.
Are you lonely in your marriage?
Signs of being in a lonely relationship
* You’ve stopped communicating properly – you feel you’ve lost your best mate and have no one to talk to – you’ve lost that connection
* You don’t make time for each other – working too hard or just can’t be bothered
* There is no physical contact anymore – no cuddles, no holding hands, no intimacy
* You feel shut down, not emotionally present, like you’ve stopped trying
Through my marriage I felt different aspects of loneliness. I spent so much of my marriage alone, with a husband who was working away from home for weeks at a time. I was used to loneliness. I had the umbrella of a husband somewhere over me affording me a degree of protection. Not as much as I would have liked, but nonetheless I stayed dry, sad and lonely. I made friends with the Internet, shopping mainly with a large glass of red. In fact I made friends with everyone and I was still lonely. Did it matter that my husband was never there or was it a lesson in life that I needed to learn to help me move on? Was it a sign of what was to come, a learning and training ground for post separation and divorce?
Someone described being lonely in a marriage like being in an open prison – a good analogy I think. Do we stay longer in an unhappy marriage because we are afraid of loneliness? Are we desperately fearful of being on our own?
I also understood early on in my divorce that in order to function as a primary parent, a wife, friend and daughter to those I spent time with, I had to learn to live with myself.
Having spent time alone, utterly miserable, crying myself to sleep, questioning why I did not have my husband to spend my life holding, laughing and even arguing with. I also began to understand that no matter how much time I spent with others, I still had to come home and live with myself.
Loneliness during separation and divorce
For me, on separating I found it easy to continue on with life. Nothing had changed much in terms of single parenting, I just got on with it. To live alone, without someone still caring and thinking about me wherever they were in the world, made me realise I had systematically invited another aspect of loneliness in.
I congratulated myself for being so resilient and capable. I knew I was, I had some good training, but what I was not prepared for was the loneliness attached to the lack of availability of help from my now Ex. I began to realise that he had been there for me in our marriage, that my situation now was real and devoid of any backup and that equalled the huge loneliness factor.
Your family and friends are there for you in those desperate hours. Your children fill a void with their emotional needs, BUT once the house is quiet, you are left with yourself and your ability to deal with the loneliness monkeys raging around your head. You cannot banish them, they like the fact that there is space for them to party. They make you aware of what really exists when a marriage breaks down. There is no solace until acceptance of the new you, without the dreadful ‘lonelies’ becomes your inner fabulous lighter life.
You make errors of judgement, you find replacements for what you think you need. The delaying tactics employed such as, counteracting loneliness with booze, fags, bad sex and even worse company leaving you bereft of confidence and self-worth.
So how do you send this loneliness away?
You don’t! Instead you make loneliness your friend. You start keeping loneliness close, you live with loneliness and once you live accept it is in all our lives, it weirdly begins to leave.
Here are my suggestions to help you manage loneliness through separation or divorce:
* Make friends with yourself, practice self love. Be kind to yourself, buy yourself flowers, a book, go to the cinema, watch a film on your own – embrace your courage rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Be the brave singleton at a party, walk in, shoulders back and smile – be the lovely you AND celebrate it!
* Enjoy, embrace and acknowledge these times as part of a process, give yourself permission to cry yourself to sleep in your big empty bed. Sleep holding a pillow or hot water bottle and be proud of how you are managing this difficult time. Try being a starfish!
* Resist if you can the temptation to jump straight on to dating apps to fill the void – this will only cause further heartache. Get yourself in a place where you are feeling more ‘you’, stronger and level headed.
Everyday know that whatever the loneliness you are feeling, that it is shared by so many around the world. Embracing this scary emotion is recognising your strength in your truth and life and it is a way to heal yourself.
Time spent on my own has been the most valuable. I have had time to think, to disseminate and to truly understand the benefits of being able to have time on my own.
I know within my next relationship or marriage that I will be whole. I will not be dependent on the requirement of a partner to fill a void that has existed within me for such a long time as it will just no longer be there!
If you are struggling with overcoming your loneliness and would like to get in touch for a free 15 minute chat with me, send me an email to email@example.com.
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