The top three stressors in life are moving, divorce and the death of a loved one. What no one tells you is divorce includes moving and living alone. Learning to live alone after living with your family for years is a major stressor. You go from your home where all your dreams were being lived out and all your memories lived, space you and your partner created together, to a new place. Not only is there the shock of moving but you literally will be re-nesting and this time on your strengths alone. Living alone after separation can also be an amazing opportunity to release pain, rediscover yourself, and recreate yourself.
The first thing you're going to need to get used to is the silence of living alone. Particularly if the last few months of your cohabitation was characterized by tension, conflict and infighting. There is now silence where once there was the sound of children, as well as the tension of the source of your divorce conflict. Allow yourself to experience the silence. Experience the emptiness. Allow yourself a little time every day to miss your children. Also to appreciate the peace of no longer being in the midst of conflict. Explore meditation, mindfulness and/or prayer. These will help you embrace the silence and literally grow the part of your brain that is grounded in rational thinking while shrinking the part of your brain that engages in fight or flight.
Nature abhors a vacuum. Replace the routines of your former home with new ones that support your new life. Start with self care. Regular rest, healthy eating habits, exercise, spiritual practices will all help fill the void. Regular cleaning, bed making, food shopping and so on. Having routines will help separate one day from another, give your day structure, and support your biorhythms. Routines also help us to know what to expect in our day to day experience.
Living alone after separation demands managing our expectations. Expectations determine our daily experience. If we are expecting our kids to be thrilled to come over and they are lukewarm or even reluctant to see us, we are going to be disappointed. If instead we expect that our kids will be as shell shocked as we are and prepare ourselves to support them in being comfortable when we see them- whatever that looks like, we are far less likely to be disappointed. We also will manage our expectations of ourselves. We may expect ourselves to be upbeat all the time now that the “war” is over. This is far from the truth. We may still have anger. Under that we may have sadness for the good things lost. Under that we may have fear. These feelings won't go on forever, nor will they pass without some attention.
Allow yourself to have your feelings. Allot a time period to mourn the loss of your former family life. This might look like taking a weekend, grabbing some ice cream and writing out all the things you will miss about that life. Rainy days are the best for this! End the weekend with a small ceremony putting that life and those feelings to rest. Make a deal with yourself. No more extensive grieving after that weekend. Yes, you will still have some feelings of sadness from time to time and in those moments, stop and pause. Remember the ceremony you created for letting go, take a deep breath and move on. Managing feelings of loss is a fine line between having the feelings and them taking over your experience. We cannot ignore how we feel. By orchestrating when and how we have the feelings they stop “having” us.
Open yourself up to new skills and experiences. Learn how to cook new dishes. Take pleasure in the sensual. Take on a new hobby, perhaps a new sport. Explore new genres of books, maybe join a book club. Get out into nature, try hiking. Learn about trees and native plants while you're at it. Starting out again on our own opens up time for new possibilities. In all likelihood, you will find yourself living with other people again, so take advantage of this time!
Super important to balancing the new alone time is having some people time. Invite people over, have a house/apartment warming party. Accept invitation to events. Explore new options via meetup and eventbrite. Don't surrender to that voice that tells you to put it off. Get involved with a charity that pulls on your heart strings.
Learning to live alone after living with your family for years is a major stressor, getting support will help.We all need a network of support. Between the pandemic and the separation/divorce process, the chances are your network has some big gaps in it. Reconnect with your spiritual roots. Consider working with a professional coach or therapist. Join a support group of likeminded men and women. Reach out to old friends and ask them about themselves.
Learning to live alone after living with your family for years is a major stressor. Living alone will get easier and easier over time. Keep learning more about living alone as you grow into it. I was talking to a client last week who after dating the same woman for three years is reluctant to get married again because he now likes living alone and having his own space. Incorporate these seven tips into your life and I promise you that your life will become rich and full.
Looking for more support? Sign up for one of our virtual support groups. Every week we focus on a new topic to help you in your separation and divorce journey. Reach out through the "Contact Me" form below.
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