I've been separated for almost three years, and officially divorced for almost a year. Being alone is now my superpower.
I don't think I remember what it's like to parent with another person (my ex doesn't see our kid much, and even still, we parallel parent), much less have a partner. In my life, "Netflix & Chill" means exactly that—watch Netflix and rest on the couch. This isn't to say I want to be single forever, or find it easy, but I've gotten used to my life being this way.
For those of you just leaving the nest of your miserable marriages, try this 60 Day Aloneness Challenge to recharge your life into something beautiful and wonderful, post-divorce, by learning how to be you again.
Try these challenges for a total of 60 days, and see how great you feel about flying solo.
Day 1: Clean out your closet.
Get rid of anything you haven't worn in a year, unless you've got a pair of goal-weight pants. This goes for men and women alike. Save those pants, and make the next 60 days a goal to fit into them—or get "close" to fitting into them.
Day 2: Review your phone.
Delete all old contacts that serve you no purpose. Then do a search through, and see if there's anyone in your contacts that you really should reach out to. It's time to rekindle old friendships and put to bed the toxic ones.
Day 3: Avoid dating sites.
This is an "aloneness challenge," so it means skipping out on dating sites. Avoid dating sites for two months and, if you can, hold off one extra month after the challenge is done. Instead of trying to run the hustle and games of online dating, do challenge #4.
Days 4-34: Sign up for a class.
We're doing an "aloneness" challenge, which means no partners—but it doesn’t mean avoiding "friend" company! This challenge is really hard if you're divorcing with kids, BUT if you have the time, skip the online dating for two (better if three) months, and try a new class or hobby for 30 days straight. Martial arts? Dance? Crossfit? Knitting? Hiking? Pick an interest you are dying to pursue, and do it! I bet you'll meet more friends, and maybe more potential singles, here rather than on Tinder.
While you’re doing this challenge, also:
- Update your resume. Do you want a new job? What will you do to get that job?
- Clean the house. From top to bottom, spring clean it baby! Get rid of old, unhappy marital reminders.
- Make a list of emergency contacts. Who can you count on in an emergency now that your spouse is gone? Make that list!
Day 35: Sell your wedding rings or band.
Make some extra cash and clear your home and heart of broken "memorabilia." Sell your rings, let go of their romanticism, and set aside that cash for a rainy day, or an emergency.
Days 36-42: Ask your friends to tell the truth.
What did your friends think about your marriage? Where did they see the marriage making the best of you (if at all), and where did they see it making the worst of you? Ask them to write down two to three sentences. Then, sit down and read each of them. Make notes of the similar comments. Note which things made you "your worst you." Then, make a list of at least four things to avoid in your next relationship. After you've done that, write down four things you need to personally work on to become a better person.
Day 43: Apologize to someone who deserves it.
Most people have at least one person they should come to for forgiveness, or to ask for a clean slate. Who is your person? Find this person and ask for forgiveness. Having no burdens on your shoulder, as well as a clean conscience, makes for a healthy start as a single person.
Days 44-50: Volunteer for an organization.
Pick a worthy cause, and volunteer your time for a week. If you can do more than that, wonderful! If you can't, don’t sweat it. Just be glad for the time you can donate. Doing something good for a cause close to your heart is a great way to rebuild your self-esteem after divorce.
Days 51-52: An evening alone.
Pick two evenings to be alone—without friends or family. If you have kids, make this when the kids are with the other parent. If you don’t have a co-parent, enjoy time alone after the kids are asleep. Turn off your devices, and just do something to relax. Read a book, watch a movie...whatever it is that makes you feel less stressed.
Day 53: Go somewhere alone.
Find somewhere to go you wouldn’t typically go alone—a bar, restaurant, or movie. Watch others around you. Take note of happy couples, and not-so-happy. Ask yourself what it is you're missing from company. If you start to miss your ex, ask why? Is it that you really miss the person, or just miss having another body next to you? Find something pleasurable about the evening. Talk to at least two people (unless you're at the movies!); if you're female, please be careful.
Days 54-56: See family.
Visit family you haven't seen in quite some time, either because people hated your ex, or because you were busy being sucked into the whirlwind of a bad marriage. Give it a weekend to really savor time with those people you love.
Day 57: Write down five goals.
Write down five goals you have for yourself, post-divorce. Make two relationship goals. Make two personal goals. Make one a career goal.
Day 58: Have a photo session.
Have photos of yourself taken, post-divorce. If you want to really get into it, do a "trash your wedding suit or dress" photo session to purge your bad feelings about your divorce.
Day 59: See a doctor.
Now is the time to do a checkup of everything. If you're feeling really unstable, it's time to see a therapist or psychiatrist, or both. Make your health a priority. Now.
Day 60: Ask yourself what you learned by being single.
What have you gained from spending time on you? What have you missed from a partnership? How do you feel about your divorce, as compared to how you felt when you filed? Make notes of this, and be proud of how far you've come, even if it's not as far as you would have liked.