Spending Time Alone after Divorce Can Be Very Lonely
After 5 years divorced, a weekend alone can still be hard.
I’ll be honest: I was filled with anxiety and depressed this past weekend. My kids were with their dad, and all of my friends were out of town on various trips (I guess I didn’t get that memo). On Friday night, I faced a weekend with no obligations, no plans, no boyfriend, and no work to do. I didn’t even have any movies downloaded.
Now I know there are people who will say to that scenario, that’s wonderful – a peaceful weekend without work, kids, noise . . .I am the most OPPOSITE of that person. I’m an extrovert and get energy and feel refreshed with others around me. I honestly think I stayed married longer just so I could ensure constantly being in the hubbub of family, and I enjoyed the obligations.
I’ve been divorced for 5 years. Shouldn’t I be comfortable with this scenario? Yes and no.
Busy-ness Is a Good Distraction – Until It Doesn’t Work
I was never alone after divorce, at least in that first year. I’d plan way in advance on the weeks/weekends that my Ex had the kids. A short trip out of town, line up plans with friends, go on a date, sign up for an extra work project, grab my spin bike. I would look at the weekend and carve it all up. I wasn’t a complete lunatic, I would make myself have some “alone time” – but even that was planned out. My alone time would be a massage or scheduling time with myself to finish a book, see a movie or a 1-2 hour walk through the city—seriously, this stuff was written in my calendar! (“Saturday, 1-3 go for a walk.”)
As the years went on, I relaxed in my plan making. I guess I relaxed so much that this past weekend I got caught without any plans at all. When I realized it, I panicked. Being alone after divorce felt much different than at any other time in my life. This panic attack manifested itself into crying, stalking social media profiles of my “friends” and then crying, stressing out about money and then crying, eating 2 pieces of chocolate cake (I didn’t cry after that, it tasted really good), drinking cheap wine that didn’t taste good then throwing out the bottle and opening an expensive bottle of wine, listening to an Aimee Mann playlist while going through my closet and then crying . . . all for real.
Being Alone Allows You to Move Through Feelings and Heal
I was pretty down on myself. I not only felt alone, I was literally alone, and I just wallowed in it.
At the end of it all, I was exhausted – yet weirdly refreshed, too.
Then I woke up Monday morning and wrote this. And in reflecting back, I just feel better by somehow going on this “down and out weekend of crying adventure”. I just let myself be in this place of not being strong, of not being positive, of not trying to think the glass is half full. BUT, this is a major point – I gave myself a time limit. More than a weekend is not okay. And doing this every weekend is not okay.
It is okay to be sad and just own that. Many of us struggle with feeling very alone after divorce. But as you go into that space, make sure you have a time-limited exit strategy. Set an alarm, tell a friend you have to see them, go to a yoga class, or a kick-boxing class, watch a funny movie, play Beyonce. Do something to signify the end of the pity party and a change back to normal. Schedule time with a therapist, go to a workshop, a class, ask for help. Do not stay in this space for longer than the allotted weekend.
I did two things take me out of this sad space. I sent out a message to a couple of girlfriends and wrote this post sharing my weekend. Those acts made me feel a lot better. If you’re feeling alone after divorce, allowing yourself to feel it and sharing how you feel goes a long way. Thank you, ladies.