Melissa has been incredibly lonely since her husband moved out last December.
She called me after reading my newsletter talking about a retreat I was hosting. She told me she was thrilled to see an opportunity to meet other women in transition. Melissa was now in the middle of her divorce and realized that she was still feeling very lonely.
After her split, it seemed like her friends mysteriously fell away and she found it hard to meet new people. This is something I hear a lot from the divorced population. Even today, well into the 21st Century. As far as our culture has come with accepting divorce as a reality, the social stigma is still alive and well. Couples or married individuals don’t necessarily want to hang out with single or divorced folks.
For Melissa, this was definitely unexpected fallout from her breakup and it added an extra layer of pain and loss to an already painful situation.
Being a take-charge kind of person, Melissa attempted to remedy the social situation. She joined a gym, a book club and she even got a part-time job but none of these activities produced any lasting friendships.Everyone was either married (and didn’t want to hang out with a single woman), much younger than she, or too busy. Another issue for Melissa is that she was longing for deep, meaningful relationships where she could talk about the pain of her marriage ending as well as the challenge of starting life over at the age of 48. Her friends and family were very supportive to her for a couple of months but since March, they’ve all but stopped returning her calls.
Spending a weekend with other women who were wanting to take control of their destiny and give and get support around that sounded like the perfect remedy for Melissa.
It is this sense of isolation and marginalization that propelled me to start running groups back in 2000 and to hold more regular retreats. I have found these outlets to be not only magical ways to help participants find a way out of the marginalization, but it can be a powerful springboard into the next chapter of their lives.
If you have an opportunity to connect with other divorcing people in an intimate setting, I highly recommend it. There are more groups today than ever before but, unfortunately, not all of them provide deep connection among members. Drop-in groups or informational divorce classes just don’t offer the same intimacy as the closed groups (those where members commit and return each session) where people can share more vulnerably and honestly.
There are also three important tools I’ve learned over the years that can help anyone get through divorce better and come out of that isolation.
1. Grieve until your grief is over ~ Grief sucks. That’s why most people want to be done with the emotional roller coaster far before the process is over. But the more you fight it, the more you actually prolong it. (And, by the way, getting into a new relationship will, at best, postpone your grief. You really can’t escape it).
Be with your grief and it will actually pass quicker.
2. Don’t stay stuck in the past for too long ~ Although you need to feel the sadness and perhaps even anger as part of your grief, there’s a point at which you will want to look at the road ahead rather than continuing to look in the rear view mirror. You have a right to all of your feelings but if you see everything through a divorce lens for years afterward, you won’t go on to enjoy life.
There is life–even FABULOUS life–beyond divorce.
3. Ask for help ~ This is one of the more important things you can
do to get past your pain and heartache.
Those who reach out for help ALWAYS land on their feet whereas those who try to go it alone, end up suffering much more and don’t do nearly as well. Over the years, I’ve watched many great people connect with other great people in my groups or workshops and go on to form close friendships. Some even find movie partners or travel companions.
Connecting with others in a similar place has brought these divorcees
out of their isolation and into mainstream life again.
Find a new community.