Carpooling, champion games, making dinner, grocery shopping, tending to Sunday rituals… the day in and day out tasks of keeping a home and a family together. It can be tough when family life begins to unravel whether due to separation and divorce, kids leaving the nest or a loved one passing. Each milestone can either become another hint of loneliness or a chance to begin to individualize again after years of familial responsibilities. Here are 4 ways to embrace your alone time so that you don’t fear being single again… it won’t last.
Moving away from a familiar family structure, most people describe the change as being bad, lonely, sad. They complain that solitary dinners are uncomfortable, even boring. The TV or Facebook become company to keep. And friends, they complain, are of course, caught up with their own families. Life is lonely.
As your family life shifts, the change brings bitter-sweetness with it. In many ways, it has to – there’s a loss to grieve and to acknowledge. Sadness to be processed. But when you give yourself a chance to embrace the grief without committing to staying there, a more positive expression of your personal time can emerge.
Grieving is a natural part of being human. Grief is a reflection of deep love for another, the lifestyle you once had, the dreams and goals you did and didn’t do with one another. It allows you to connect and to feel. When we don’t grieve the bigger losses, it’s almost impossible to feel the new tendrils of love and affection when they arrive again.
I recommend taking time each day to allow grief to come and to go. I suggest a clock, timer and a paper and pen to help process. These items help put a framework around grief and will keep you from being afraid of possible depressive feelings.
In order to shift from a perceived lonely time to a more empowering opportunity though, you’re going to need to create some momentum and my favorite strength-courage. Typically, we shun change and you might rebel against even the slightest change, so courage is required. But if you’re ready to stop being alone and begin to put some time limits on your grief processing time, these ideas should help!
- Remember what lights you up: whether it’s gardening, reading mysteries or having dinners out, pick up the fun (and healthy) things you left off that remind you of who you once were.
- Surround yourself with younger people: each time you let someone younger into your life, you also let their youth and vitality affect how you feel and what you think about. There’s so much more to know and think about these days, let someone younger share their ideas, thoughts, and concerns with you.
- Let yourself be seen: reach out to friends, invite others over, give yourself a chance to be included in the festivities of your community. It might never feel completely comfortable but it will make you leave the quiet or subdued confines of your home and try something new.
- Give of yourself: offer to help, contribute, and play. The more you reach out and engage, the less lonely you will feel. Make sure your energy is kept alive and well by eating, exercising, and being around healthy people.
Your alone time is for you to rediscover who you are away from the role of parent, spouse, or cohort. By engaging in new activities with people you haven’t spent time with in the past, your life continues to expand.
Then your mind continues to learn and your heart remains open. The courage you generate will help you open up to new possibilities and new people. Like I said, you won’t be alone for long!
Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach. Laura’s a writer, public speaker and the founder of The Better Divorce and doingDivorce™ School – online coaching programs for those ready to shed the pain of breakups. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit www.doingDivorceSchool.com and laurabonarrigo.com.