When you are going through a divorce, loneliness can be overwhelming. Not only are you no longer part of a pair, but you’ve suddenly become the main provider of your entire family. Every decision, every bill, every chore, rests solely on your shoulders.
While the burden seems impossible to hold on your own, the weight becomes even heavier if you feel emotionally isolated. Words fall short, and you become incapable of accurately communicating your emotions to friends and family. So many times over the past year I’ve wished I could relay everything I was feeling through touch. If I could just lay my hand on theirs, and transfer all of my emotions, then they would finally understand.
Emotional, decisional, and physical loneliness can make you feel incredibly alone.
So, how do you break free? How do you begin to breathe again when the weight of life seems too heavy to carry?
You don’t do it on your own.
Before this divorce, my best friends will tell you I was NOT a sharer. Which makes the irony of having a very public blog about the most personal time in my life, that much more amusing. But really, I wasn’t a sharer. I had a handful of people in my life who I trusted, but everyone else just got the surface. I didn’t reach out, or form new relationships. Mostly because I didn’t want to invest time into someone who may end up being temporary. But here’s what counseling, and prayer, have taught me.
Life, is not a solo mission.
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”-Genesis 2:18a
Our greatest strength comes from our connections with each other. And the only way to TRULY connect with others is to be real. And being “real” only comes when we are vulnerable. Over the past few years, I’ve learned how much I struggle with being vulnerable. For years, I’ve let my fear of rejection cripple me from building deeper relationships. It was a problem as a child, and it was a problem in my marriage.
But this past year, I have seen the life-changing benefits of overcoming my “uncomfortable-ness”. In fact, some of the BEST decisions I have made throughout this process, were made by intentionally making myself uncomfortable.
Right after my husband and I separated, a friend of mine recommended I attend Divorce Care at my church. I literally laughed it off. There was absolutely no way I was going to a meeting where I didn’t know anyone and be publicly labeled as a failure. But I went anyway. I literally dragged my feet the entire way from my car, to the door. I hung my head with my invisible scarlet “D” stapled to my forehead, and accepted my fate.
“Yep, I’m getting a divorce. Yep, I’m pathetic. Yep, I’m embarrassed. Thanks for noticing.”
But, it was through Divorce Care that I met my AMAZING single mom friends. Literally, from that experience, I connected with Christian women who were exactly like me. Women who understand my struggles, my fears, and my anxieties, without explanation or justification. Women who have supported me through prayer, and have grown with me. Women who pray for me, are invested in my life, and care about my son. I don’t know what I would have done these past six months without them.
Shortly after separating from my ex, I had another friend tell me I should see a Christian counselor at church. Once again, I gave a placating smile and brushed it off with a nice, “yeah, that sounds like a good idea.” But I had no intention of actually following through with it. I had my regular therapist, my friends, and my family. I didn’t need anyone else. Plus it’d be yet another person I’d have to tell my entire story to, and what if they weren’t good? What if I didn’t like them? But once again, I did it anyway. And once again, overcoming my “uncomfortable-ness” reaped enormous benefits. My church counselor is incredible. Not only is she experienced in her faith, and helps me in my walk with the Lord, but she also genuinely cares about me. Through our shared experiences, and conversations, we have developed a relationship that is built on respect, compassion, and support. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to know I have someone rooting for me. Who encourages me, builds me up , and says the simple words we all want to hear, “I’m proud of you.”
But, what made me overcome my uncomfortable-ness?
What forced me to get over the anxiety, and do it anyway?
It was the first weekend my son was away from me, and of course, it was also the same weekend my entire small group was out-of-town. My ex had just picked up my son, and I was alone for the first time. I was sitting at my kitchen table, completely devastated, with my head held in my hands, and I was sobbing. For the first time in my life, I uncontrollably wept as pain ripped my heart apart. In between my tears, I called out to God, “what do I do?”
Out of nowhere I heard, “Call Stacey”.
A couple weeks prior, my best friend told me her in-laws had a friend who went through a similar situation to mine, and she wanted me to call her. But me, being the non-sharer, had no intention of actually contacting her. The thought of burdening her with my life made me sick to my stomach. But the “Call Stacey” was so clear, I immediately picked up my phone and texted her.
“Hey Stacey. Dee told me she let you guys know what was going on and that you were willing to meet up with me and might have some helpful insight. I’d like to meet for coffee or something if you, or you and your husband, are available.”
“Absolutely!!! Would love to meet up with you. What is a good time for you?”
“I’m actually free today until about 7. Or we could meet next Sunday?”
“Do you want to come to our place about 5 today?”
And just like that, I went from sitting alone at my kitchen table, to sitting on her couch. Earlier that day, I was so upset my entire small group was out of town for the hardest weekend of my life, but as it turned out, I didn’t need my small group. I needed Stacey. A woman who has gone through devastating, heart-breaking trials with the grace and dignity I can only aspire to achieve. Since that day, my relationship with Stacey has become one of the most valuable, and meaningful relationships I have ever had. She has been my sounding board, my support system, and my confidant. And I would have missed it if I had listened to my fears, instead of to God. That simple nudge from God, “Call Stacey”, changed my entire perspective.
From then on, I decided my “uncomfortable-ness” no longer mattered. Because the potential benefits far outweighed any temporary emotion. Going forward, I made a decision to push past my boundaries and “do it anyway”. To invest my time in expanding my Godly community, rather than remaining in seclusion. And with every new connection, my feeling of loneliness diminished. With every new relationship, the weight of life eased.
My divorce has not destroyed me, because I have an army of women surrounding me. My best friend, my friends, my family, my small group, my single-mom friends, my counselor, and my mentor, support me with their love and acceptance. Encouraging me as I walk down this crooked path called divorce.
I have not, and will not, go through this journey alone.
And that, has made all the difference.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”- Psalm 133:1