3 Tips for Staying Social During and After a Divorce
During and after a divorce, it can be very difficult to maintain your connections and community.
You may be feeling such a sense of shame, embarrassment and failure that you decide to “go it alone” and don’t reach out to your family, friends or coworkers. It may be that the friends that you and your spouse shared have fallen away or chosen your spouse’s side, so they are no longer friends.
Ending a relationship that you entered in your youth with such hope and excitement is devastating. It is common to feel like you have failed miserably, especially when you are divorcing after a long-term marriage.
Many people are haunted by the questions: What happened? What did I do wrong? Why couldn’t I figure out what was wrong and fix it before it became unfixable? There is still that lingering feeling that you failed.
Please Don’t Sell Yourself Short After a Divorce
Change is difficult. It requires you to abandon the status quo and move out of your comfort zone. Going through a major life change, whether you choose it or it is thrust upon you, is daunting. Don’t try to go it alone! It is scary, even more so when you are over 40, because you may not feel as resilient as you did when you were in your 20s and 30s.
Your self-esteem and self-worth take a beating. You take responsibility for the failure even though there were two of you involved. Those inner voices telling you that you didn’t try hard enough, didn’t do enough (feel free to insert your personal broken record) keep playing over and over again.
A favorite quote from Socrates comes to mind:
“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
How do you get out of your own head, back into the land of the living and feel connected again – whether it be with your old friends or new ones? Here are three tips to start building your new network of connections and community during and after your divorce.
First, join a closed online community where you can share your thoughts and feelings in a safe space. If you are feeling hesitant to get started, a closed community provides a sense of community where you can safely start making connections.
Join one or more Meet Up groups. There are now Meet Up groups for just about every activity you can think of! These groups offer a way to get out, try new things and meet new people. Go online and check it out – you will be amazed at the fun things are going on near you right now!
Get involved in a volunteer activity that has interested you, but you have never taken the time to explore. If you love animals, check out your local animal shelter. How about serving homeless people in a soup kitchen or a food bank? Want to build something? What about Habitat for Humanity?
Volunteering is a great way to meet like-minded friends, and when you’re ready, a great way to meet a potential date. You already have a shared interest!
Excitement for New Opportunities
Stop for a moment and think about what these new opportunities for connection and community mean. Do you feel hopeful and maybe a little excited? You will be creating something new – a whole new blank canvas is just waiting for you… that is very powerful. That is exciting!
At midlife, you are more resilient than you know. In many ways, you have a better sense of yourself now than you did at any other time in your life. Embrace that! If this is the first time you’ve gotten the space to figure yourself out, use that opportunity! It takes courage to move forward and build a future with new people and relationships. It’s going to be okay!
What advice would you give to someone who is going through a divorce? How did you go about making new social connections after your divorce? Did you find that having a community of women to support you on the divorce journey was useful? What new activities did you try? Please share in the comments.
Sandra Hughes, MBA, CPCC, is a leadership coach for adults 40+ going through transitions, especially divorce. She created the Life Reinvented Program to address the needs of people ending long-term marriages. You can learn more about Sandra’s story at www.sbhcoaching.com