Divorce brings out many emotions in a person. I was familiar with many of them – anger, hurt, frustration, sadness to name a few. The one I was not prepared for, the one that hit me like my son’s shoe when he’s aiming at his sister’s head, was loneliness. It was an emotion I hadn’t experienced to these depths before. Many women have heard people tell them, “Oh but you did everything anyhow, you’ve been single all this time” and for many of us this rings all too true. The days of doing carpool on your own because your ex was on a business trip, or feeding the kids dinner every night because your ex had to work late, mowing the lawn because…well because you wanted it done right away at that exact moment in time. We are used to doing what needs to get done.
We are used to getting up and hustling and moving and just making it all happen. And even when you were doing it yourself and couldn’t rely on your spouse for help, you always knew there was someone in the background, just there. Even if they didn’t make decisions about whether or not your daughter should skip a grade, your son should do karate or if you should invite the new neighbours for lunch, they were there even just as a sounding board – someone who would listen, or pretend to at least, while you went on and on about the benefits of individual educational plans and physical activity for kids and you as a couple making new friends. And for those who didn’t have that, at the very least there was an extra adult in the house. If you got broken into at night, there was someone else there to fend for you.
After divorce, its just you. No one to run and pick up milk when you realize you have none. No one to bring you soup when you’re sick. No one to laugh at the funny things your kids say. Most of our divorced marriages weren’t partnerships and there was little equality but you were part of something –part of a team as dysfunctional as it may have been but still belonging somewhere.
We forge on and we make new teams for ourselves. We have friends who will drop anything off at any hour, special someone’s who will mend you back to health and family that will laugh at your kid’s antics even just over WhatsApp. But at the end of the day, it’s us and our kids alone. When the day is done and the kids are in bed and all is quiet, we go to bed alone.
Loneliness is an incredibly dangerous emotion. It manipulates our hearts, lets us accept behaviours we otherwise wouldn’t and puts us in situations that challenge the very core of who we are. It leaves this open wound in your chest but everything you try to fill it with just hurts more. We chase love and relationships and tell ourselves its because we are ready-when really we just don’t want to be alone. And why should we? People weren’t made to be alone.
Learning to accept and be okay with yourself, just yourself, is hard, its damn hard. I have no suggestions and no advice because I struggle with this daily. A while back I joined a couple of dating sites but I soon realized I was looking to date because I was lonely and not because I was ready. I realized I can’t date to have someone fill that void. I have to fill it myself and then they become the sprinkles on the already delicious cake.
Because at the end of the day you can’t expect more from others than yourself and if you can’t be alone with yourself then why would anyone else want to be either?