Divorce is one of the most significant grief events many of us will ever suffer. Is it any wonder then, that during divorce, good people suddenly seem to be mad? As a Divorce Lawyer I have seen it all. People who in any other situation are entirely ‘normal’ all of a sudden turn into crazy versions of themselves- acting in ways even they would never expect. Heartbreak does this to us. Love is a roller coaster of exhilarating highs and sometimes the lowest of lows.
Most people experiencing divorce say they ‘just want it to be over’. What they are really saying is that they want the feelings and emotions to have passed. Most people think carefully before choosing to end a marriage but for some it is a decision that is taken out of their hands. But either way, I don’t know that anyone can really be prepared for the emotions that will flow and the change that is inevitable.
There are many feelings you will experience during divorce and most of them are painful. One that I hear of a lot is the sense of loneliness that takes hold, particularly when you find yourself at home alone after many years of marriage.
Loneliness during divorce can be a desperate feeling and it can be easy to turn to things to fill that void- some of which do us more harm than good- new relationships, alcohol or sometimes even crazy behaviours all designed to remove some of the pain that our heart is feeling.
Loneliness is however something we can move past, and the trick in my experience is all in your attitude. Rather than trying to mask your loneliness, embrace it, acknowledge it and even celebrate it. There is a good chance that during your marriage you have lost a little bit of what it means to be ‘you’- sometimes you have to- that is what relationships are about- give and take. The longer you have been together, the greater the loss of your ‘own self’ that can happen. So to tackle loneliness I asked my friends, my clients and even my social media community and this is what they said-
1. Find new adventures
Your divorce will probably mean you have time to yourself that you may not have been used to for a while, so be ready to fill it in new and positive ways! Do something you have always wanted to do but could never do before. Join a new class, sporting team or social club- just find something that you enjoy that you can look forward to and don’t be afraid to push your own boundaries. Perhaps you have always wanted to try ballroom dancing- well find a class and join. What about surfing, painting, running, walking, reading, or volunteering? Do something- something you haven’t done before and just see what happens.
2. Celebrate the successes, no matter how small
If ever there was a time to be able to focus on the good things, your divorce is it! Heartbreak is full of challenge. To get through this stage and move out the other side with your dignity intact will take courage. If you can focus on the good, rather than the bad this will really help you through. This is not easy as for many days you might feel that there is nothing good to be had but I challenge you to take a moment at the end of each day, to write yourself a note of 1 thing that happened that day that made you feel proud, happy or just content- it might be a laugh from a child, a beautiful sunset, a great coffee you were served or perhaps even a kind conversation with a stranger. Do this for a week and I promise you the world will start to seem less grey, less lonely and far more manageable. I have made this part of my daily routine and it is lovely to pull out those notes a few months later to remind yourself of all of the beautiful moments that can otherwise just get lost in our memory.
3. Don’t be afraid to be alone
While I am all for trying new adventures, we all need to find comfort in being alone. This is a big part of healing after divorce- the opportunity to discover yourself again. Allow yourself time to really get comfortable with being alone. This way you will be ready to invest your whole heart in that next relationship without carrying forward the grief of your last. Embrace the peace and quiet. Take time to just sit in the sun, enjoy the breeze, read a book and dream.
Divorce means change. Initially it might seem like your life is in chaos, particularly if the end of your marriage was not your choice. And the best way to manage chaos is to start to organise it. Set a plan- a small one to begin with. You don’t have to plan the rest of your life, just start by planning the next week. By focusing on what you want to achieve day by day or week by week, you can celebrate your little wins while taking some of the pressure off. Keep a journal to map your progress – not to record the terrible things you are feeling, but the good things that are happening. And don’t be afraid of being lonely. We all feel that way sometimes so pick up the phone, call a friend and talk to someone- anyone (call me if you like!). Just have a chat and remind yourself that no matter what, you are not and never will be alone. Never forget that your life is precious and it’s important to make the most of every single minute.
Clarissa Rayward is a Divorce Lawyer and the Owner of Brisbane Family Law Centre. over the past 14 years, Clarissa has worked with over 2000 families during separation and divorce. She specialises in assisting her clients to experience a dignified divorce- staying away from the Court process and finding sustainable agreements for the future.
If you or someone you know needs assistance during divorce you can organise a complimentary 15 minute phone appointment with Clarissa or one of her team here.Book your complimentary chat with Clarissa here