Getting through a divorce and healing afterward is possible, even if you currently feel like you’re adrift in a sea of uncertainty.
Feeling lost after a divorce is natural and common. You might feel disconnected or sad, even if you wanted the relationship to end.
There’s also the practical side of it. You may have to find a new place to live or adapt to a new lifestyle. If children are involved, you may be going through the custody process and providing extra emotional support for your little ones.
But it’s possible to overcome this emotional pain, even if you’re having a difficult time right now. The first step may be understanding why you’re feeling lost after the divorce.
Yes, it is common, natural, and valid. A divorce can be an emotionally significant life event. It might feel similar to grieving the loss of a loved one.
You may be thinking, “I wanted the divorce, so why am I so sad?” But grieving can happen even if you made the decision to part ways. You’re leaving a part of your life behind.
If you made the decision to leave, you might be facing remorse or guilt. Perhaps you were still in love but thought the relationship didn’t work. Maybe you fell out of love and feel conflicted about no longer wanting what you once dreamed of.
If you didn’t want the divorce, you may feel unprepared for the change. You could also have a hard time accepting something that you feel you have no control over.
Regardless of whether you sought the divorce or not, you may also find yourself feeling lonelier if the end of the relationship meant distancing yourself from a social network: your spouse’s family, joint friends, or neighbors. Loneliness can sometimes lead to symptoms of depression.
All of these reactions and many more are natural when you’re going through a breakup or divorce.
And like other forms of grief, it can take some time to come to terms with the change of status and move on.
How long sadness or grief lasts after a divorce depends on many factors, including your support network and emotional resources. But it’s feasible in every case.
Going through a divorce looks different for everyone. But it’s possible to find yourself again by connecting with things and people that are important to you.
These tips may help you start your post-divorce journey.
Consider taking on hobbies
After a divorce, you may find yourself wondering how to spend your time. The time you once spent with your partner is now time you can use to find yourself.
Finding new hobbies or reconnecting with old ones can keep your mind busy, your heart smiling, and your focus on yourself.
Consider exploring questions like:
- What do you like to do?
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you want to try that you’ve always wanted to but never had the time before?
Your choices will be entirely up to you, but some suggestions for hobbies include:
- Finding the artist within. Art, such as drawing or painting, might help you express yourself if you’re finding it difficult to do so after a divorce. Art therapy can also help with anxiety symptoms.
- Expressing yourself on paper. Writing can be a way to work through your emotions. Try poetry or other forms of creative writing. Journaling can also help.
- Getting active. Exercise like yoga, running, cycling, or dance
may helpif you’re living with depression after a divorce.
- Building something. You may feel as if something has just broken apart. Working on creating something from scratch, like a dollhouse or model airplane, may help you regain perspective and hope after ending a marriage.
- Creating a tribute. Sometimes, you need closure, and tributes can help with this. Consider creating a ritual or object that signifies what the relationship meant to you. You can keep it, give it away, or destroy it afterward. It may work as a cathartic exercise.
Try doing something out of the ordinary
After a divorce, a part of you might miss the familiarity of your routines. This is natural. You might feel tempted to follow the same ones for a while. But in some cases, this could remind you of your loss.
To find your way back after a divorce, you might try changing some routines to discover if there’s something else you might enjoy doing. This could be an opportunity to try — and like — something new.
You might start with minor steps like:
- Changing your habits. It’s natural to sometimes pick up on the habits of the people you live with, sometimes adjusting your own to accommodate another person. You could start with something small like trying tea instead of coffee in the morning or sleeping on a different side of the bed.
- Redecorating. If you’re not moving to a new place, consider changing up your surroundings and filling your space with your favorite colors and textures. You could move furniture around if the mood strikes or create an accent wall.
- Taking a class. What about learning something new or spending some time in a classroom? Some community centers have a selection of affordable courses available to the public, from art to history classes. There are also virtual options.
Organizing and purging your belongings could help
Feeling lost after a divorce could come from being in the same environment but starting a new life.
You may be using the same furniture or decor, for example. Photos can also hold sentimental value and may serve as a painful reminder of your divorce.
Consider doing inventory and reorganizing some of your belongings to decide what you want to keep and what needs to go.
Try setting goals
Setting goals can be a way to take the first steps and measure progress. It could also help you focus on something besides the divorce.
You could start by setting smaller goals and then working yourself up to more complex ones.
For example, you could set the goal of waking up at a certain time and making your bed. Or you could decide you want to connect with one friend or relative every day for the next month.
When setting bigger goals, it might be a good idea to break them down into smaller actions.
For example, if your goal is to run a 5K, you could set these smaller goals:
- exercise for 10 minutes for a month
- walk 1K
- walk 3K
- walk 5K
- run for 10 minutes
- run for 20 minutes
- run for 30 minutes
- run for 40 minutes
- finish a 5K
Your progression may differ depending on your end goal and personal circumstances.
Consider embracing alone time
Everyone’s different. You may feel you need to be with other people or you might feel like staying home alone.
But staying alone isn’t the same as enjoying being by yourself. If you feel lost after your divorce, it may help you to reconnect with your true self.
This could start with spending more time exploring the things you enjoy and reconnecting with your own thoughts.
Consider taking a solo trip to somewhere new. You could take a daytime road trip to the next town over, for example. It could be going to a new restaurant by yourself.
Engaging in meditation practice may also help you enjoy alone time while helping you manage painful emotions and negative thoughts.
If you’re feeling lost, confused, sad, or you’re having a hard time coping, reaching out for professional support might help.
A mental health professional can provide a safe space to talk about your feelings and offer resources to develop coping skills that can help you feel better.
Ending a relationship and going through a divorce can be an emotional event. It’s natural to feel lost and nervous about what comes next. You may ask yourself, “Where do I go from here?”
Things like returning to old hobbies, trying something new, and dedicating time to yourself may help you find your way back from the divorce.
It may be helpful to think of your post-divorce life as a new beginning, not an end. Things will get better. You may just need to take it one step at a time.