“Single” may or may not be a label that you resonate with or even like. Alone and lonely is more how it feels during those first very difficult months after a divorce. But then, as time passes by and months become years, something changes.
Even if your relationship status is the same, it begins to feel different. Your experience of living alone changes. Your state of mind changes. Your heart changes.
You may find that the initial deep sadness of being left to yourself is gone. That the fear of never getting to be happy again has been proven wrong. That your single life can actually be great!
Because you haven’t been just living it. You have been learning, and you still are.
What are the lessons that you get to learn when being single for a long time?
1. Learn to appreciate yourself
As you move from crisis to survival and from survival to creating a new life for yourself and for your children, you cannot but start appreciating! Appreciate your resilience and your ability to reinvent everything. Appreciate your heart’s determination to create the best life possible. Appreciate yourself!
Opening to such appreciation of yourself is not only essential but it’s also a wonderful discovery – the more you appreciate yourself the more fulfilled you will feel.
2. Learn that you are not alone.
The fear of being on your own is one of the greatest challenges of divorcing (and many times also what makes women stay in a bad marriage much longer than they should have). And so, following the divorce, your thoughts and feelings tend to circle around the people you have lost: your ex, your friends, the family you were. It hurts so much.
As a long-term single, you actually have a chance to learn that you are never really alone! There are your children, of course. But there are other adults as well.
Plus, you can find comfort and a very real sense of belonging in other ways: through communion with nature, through a spiritual practice, or through creative activities.
3. Learn the difference between needing and wanting company
There is a difference between needing to be with other people and wanting to be with other people. The need comes from loneliness and when it does, you will notice that being with others brings only temporary relief, if any.
But then, as you gradually learn the art of living alone, you will find that the good things that you experience alone you also want to share with others. This feels different. Connecting with other people because you want to and not just need to is such a positive experience.
4. Learn new ways to approach other people
When you come out of divorce, approaching other people can feel embarrassing, painful, and plainly impossible. There is so much in the way. There is your need to hide away with your pain, and there are also people turning their back on the single, divorced you, or they’re just busy with their own lives.
As you find your way and a sense of balance on your own, approaching others (out of want more than need) happens way more naturally. It’s as if the doors that didn’t even exist before begin to show up in your life, and those doors open to new friends and communities.
5. Learn the magic of the Internet
And, you’re also learning the magic of the Internet. Imperfect as it may seem, it’s quite a miracle. There’s the DivorcedMoms website, of course. There’s Facebook with all kinds of groups where you can find others in a similar situation, including the DivorcedMoms group here. And there are websites where you can learn just about anything you want. Through the Internet, you can learn to connect with people in another state, another country, another continent for the matter. There are no limits to how far you can reach out.
6. Learn that your joy is always with you
When living with a spouse, it can be difficult to discern between what your feelings are, what his are, and where the joy that you feel comes from. You tend to ascribe it to the family, to the marriage, to someone and something outside of yourself. And it seems like the divorce takes you away from joy.
Living alone for a long time, you can learn that there is a place in you that is full of joy, even if you’re single and even when you are alone.
7. Learn not to blame anyone
You also have a chance to learn that there is no one to blame. Living alone for a long time, you can no longer blame anyone else for whatever is happening in your life.
Hopefully, you’re also learning that you don’t want to blame yourself either. Because you know now that your life depends on you and blaming doesn’t help you. So your attitude can begin to change from blame to acceptance and growth.
8. Learn to honor your path through life
Even if our culture tends to idealize marriage, single living is, and should be recognized as equally valuable. For every year you spend alone, you are learning that your path through life is, even if different, equally meaningful and valuable. You can choose single living for as long as you want to, and you can learn to honor it.
9. Learn how to get over pain
Because there’s no way to run away from yourself, single living teaches you how to deal with your own pain. Even if it’s sheer necessity, to begin with, you learn how to help yourself. You can learn ways to deal with physical, emotional, and mental pain that are positive, life-changing, and healing. You can learn more about yourself than you have ever before.
10. Learn how to be the empowered you
Single living makes you so much stronger than you were before. You discover or learn skills and talents that you didn’t even know that you had or were capable of learning. Day by day, through living your single life, you empower yourself more and more.
Life is a journey and a challenging adventure. It is also a learning process and a gift. While a divorce breaks us apart in so many painful ways, living alone for a significant period of time can free more of your potential, including joy, than you ever imagined you had in you!
Life is on your side, after divorce too. So keep these lessons in your heart and in front of your eyes. Download here 10 beautiful reminders that you can print out, place on your desktop or set up in your computer.