Without doubt one of the hardest things associated with separation & divorce is the shock of finding oneself alone for long periods of time. Many of us typically experience an abrupt change from constant connection with our partners and children to living on our own. My own journey was in the beginning I know catastrophic. It learnt that acute separation or isolation anxiety is very real. It was so bad I cried at night, in the darkest moments, and struggled to function during my days. I made trips to see my GP through desperation and unfortunately, I could not hide my trauma from my immediate family who I know ultimately helped me on a path to recovery. You know you are struggling when others offer up that they can be contacted day or night should you feel the need to talk to someone.
It has to be said that those who have been left by their partners, and for whom separation was not their choice will of course be challenged the most. Our grief is complicated by a broken heart, confusion and the mental torture of searching for reasons and explanations which can never be found in the beginning. When coping mechanisms are sought it’s unfortunate that some of the most personally destructive remedies are closest on hand. There is no need for me to list them all here but I’ll admit it took me a while to realise that any distraction therapy I reached for would actually prevent me from making any kind of personal progress. I’m going to say that the path to a more introspective and inner focus .. doing some “work” on ourselves is I think the only way to process isolation, combat negative thoughts and feelings and move forward.
What might you do then when you shut the front door having spent the entire day or week at work and you suddenly feel lost and alone? I have no recipe for others but I can say that I started to experience an assuredness and strength from simply focussing on taking care of myself. Putting on comfortable clothes, taking a hot shower or bath, preparing a meal, listening to your favourite music and seeking out the very simplest of pleasures from life helped me enormously. I gained a new tolerance for minor things which had upset me before. If people moaned at work it didn’t matter so much. If domestic chores were overlooked they could wait.
I know that acceptance then is one of the final stages of grieving. I was lucky enough to meet someone who introduced me to what it felt like to quieten my constantly whirring mind. I would say there are no set rules or guidance anyone can give on how this works for each of us as individuals. I do know that I was always curious about how people I considered to have more life experience than I did seemed to have found a place for the “buddha” in their lives. I learnt from studying myself that pain & suffering are a given, but what you do as a consequence is a choice. It takes a certain mental strength and focus then to ensure that you are on your guard against any repeated downward spiral. Along with developing an interest in regaining control and taking personal responsibility there is a genuine longing to experience that we are finally ok with being by ourselves for as long as we want.
The truth is that none of us a truly ever alone, we can just feel extremely isolated at times. I have written more recently how for me, time has passed, and with it a long healing process has been lived. Like many I know, I still carry my scars however. Ironically, I find I need to be alone at times now, to experience peace and listen to silence. I believe all the answers we seek can be found there.