Loneliness seems to come hand in hand with divorce. We became so used to the sounds our home makes when we are busy being married, that the sudden stark silence of being alone can be deafening.
Some people may go out of their way to avoid the loneliness. They pack their weekly diary with work functions, dining out, working late, any excuse to not go back to their empty home. While others might view loneliness as something to confront, as another element of the grief they are experiencing.
To me, loneliness is the echo of loss. It is the unrelenting reminder of what, or more precisely who, is missing from your life. Simple things like putting out one plate for dinner, seeing one toothbrush in the bathroom cupboard and having ‘their side’ of the bed empty can be gut wrenching symbols of who isn’t there with you.
We could avoid all of these things but I suppose to avoid is also to pretend. It takes a brave soul to sit alone in the home despite it being a museum of your marriage, to cook a lovely meal for just you, to be amongst all of the artefacts of your life together and to simply live alongside them.
I avoided my home for a while, I felt like it was a graveyard to my marriage but I soon came to a realisation. My husband had taken so much from me, he had rewritten my past and my future, was I really going to let him take my home and independence from me as well? No way!
I went home and made it a comfy and peaceful sanctuary, I reclaimed it.
I embraced the loneliness. There were (and still are) nights where I sob on our sofa, at our breakfast bar, in our bed but after a while I started to feel a sense of peace when I was in my home. The echoes didn’t seem to be as loud or fierce as they were in the beginning. Time seemed to dull down the cruelness just a little to make it bearable.
The time alone becomes important. It’s a time to assess, to understand, to process and reflect. There will be a great deal of emotional growth in these alone times. When it is just you and your thoughts, things that you may have been putting off working through in your mind may surface and there aren’t the distractions around you to push them away.
It’s also time where you can really let yourself feel what needs to be felt in privacy. You can be unfiltered. If you need to play sad love songs, look at old Christmas cards from your spouse or photos of you together, then you can. These times are important in your healing and it’s often in our lonely times that space is made for those moments.
When we embrace the loneliness, we are allowing ourselves to begin the process of becoming a whole person, our own entity. We are giving ourselves the chance to engage with who we really are. We will learn new things about ourselves. Bit by bit we adapt and become stronger for it.
No matter how alone you may feel, remember, there has actually been someone at your side the whole time, day and night, through the tears and the silence. God. He has not and will not leave your side. His love is a powerful force that will give you the bravery to face the challenges of loneliness and He will give you all His strength and security as you continue to adjust to your new circumstances.
Matthew 28:20 (NIV): ‘Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’