I’m not going to lie; it’s not easy facing the future without a husband or a wife or a theoretical life-long partner. There are days when the loneliness is really difficult. For me, it verges on depression; I get this overall feeling that I really don’t want to do anything and I’m a person with a lot of things going on, so when I get like this, it’s the pits for me. You may have a different scenario going on, but when I’m low, I cry. I want coffee and I want to crawl back into bed once my kids walk out the door for school. I don’t want to get dressed or go out or even eat. Watching Netflix, that becomes my favorite part of the day. That with coffee is pure comfort. And there are lots of tears. For those who remember me from Daytime TV, you know I’m a crier. So those tears come from years of pent-up disappointment and current sadness.
But the questions probably should go like this:
“Should you stay in a bad marriage just because you’re afraid that you’ll spend the rest of your life alone, if it comes to that? What are you hoping for for your future?
How is being alone different than being lonely or being single?”
These questions may be difficult for you to answer, I get it. For me, though, it was easy. When I was contemplating leaving my first husband, I would climb these hills on this island in Greece where I was living and I’d ask God (or the Universe or whatever I was calling a higher power back then) to help me figure out my decision. I didn’t dare speak about what was going on between my ears because I was so afraid of burning in Hell. And I was really afraid of my husband back then. I would go up there alone and cry and pray, I guess. I guess that’s what I was doing.
It was a really difficult decision to make. But ultimately, I did leave him because I felt that my life, that life is too long to stay in a bad marriage… the loneliness and the feeling of being alone in that partnership were killing me. The pain was bigger than my fears and for me, for both divorces, it was true.
Loneliness and feeling alone in the midst of what is theoretically a partnership destroys me on the inside.
Yeah, I know I’m being dramatic, but for me, for how I view the world, it’s that big.
What I want you to know is there’s always hope, at least that’s what I’ve finally learned after these many years being unattached.
There has to be hope to overcome the loneliness.
So let’s talk about hope and what it has to do with being alone and what it has to do with being single. I think it’s really important.
I hold onto hope in a lot of ways. I hoped I could navigate my divorce trial without a boyfriend—without using another person as an emotional crutch—and I did.
I hoped I could find the right group of people who could support and understand me while challenging me to be my best self… the part of me speaking today, the part of me that’s getting real with you, the part of me that demands I parent well, demands I show up for others, that I show up for myself.
I hope that one day, my picker—as one of my favorite clients calls her ability to select a guy, a picker—I hope my picker is healed and strong and wises up and finds a great guy for me to be with. ‘Cause I do want a partner. I never wanted to do this alone.
I hope that being single is fun (and it’s not always fun, I assure you) but I hope that tonight or today, I can do things as a single person, and I have… going to school events or fundraisers, going out for dinner or going to the movies. Learning to date myself and have fun with myself... phew, this is a really difficult one for me but I do it. You can, too, and you will. It comes with the territory.
You may opt for being alone for a long time. You may be declaring you never want to marry again, and then again, you may just need some time being single. In fact, I highly advocate it. Be alone. Be lonely. Be single for awhile. Figure out who you are. Figure out your voice without your ex’s feedback loop.
Take back your ability to navigate a day without caring about another person who you share a bed with.
Let’s be clear, I’m not advocating being callous or mean spirited. I’m advocating getting to know yourself as a single person. Stand alone by yourself in your own shoes, rightfully claim your place, learn who you’re going to become. Give yourself the time and the attention you need.
Care for yourself, date yourself, have fun by yourself.
After going through a divorce, the mind, body, and heart need tender loving care, fierce determination, and focusing on the future. It’s difficult to do all that while also worrying about being single or fearing being alone or lonely. I have hope that the future me will find the right partner for what remains of my life. I have the same hope for you.
New York, NY