In the three years since I've been a single mom and on the dating scene, I have learned a lot about being alone.
To be frank, I felt desperately alone in my marriage toward the end. I am sure he did too. When two people are done, but together, it's the most "alone" feeling on the face of the earth because you know you're supposed to feel connected—but you're not.
But it is a whole other ballgame learning to be alone—not lonely—after divorce.
I'm going to say this, and people may bristle, but I think men tend to partner off more quickly than women do after divorce. It may be that men feel they "need" the support more—I don't know. Whether you're divorced and dating; divorced and recently broken up from a relationship post-marriage; or divorced and not even giving two you-know-whats about dating, here are some things I do when I feel lonely, and when I feel empowered.
Lonely, Lonely, Lonely
When I am lonely, I am wrapped in self-pity. Bring a bucket of ice cream and self-loathing to the table. I spend a lot of time doubting myself and going through that series of time-wasting questions like, "What if I had..." or "Why did X happen…" or "If I had only…"
When I am lonely, I compare myself to everyone else in the world, and apparently, I see their "fields" as lush and green, while I can’t help but find dog sh*t and yellow patches in mine.
When I am lonely, somehow everything I do is wrong, and everything I am about to do is wrong. Somehow, I suddenly know "nothing" and can find fault in everything about myself. In every situation that surrounds me. I can't possibly see any of the good things in my life. My blessings are zero, and my stresses are 1,000,000. I am a sad sack.
I see a blissful love story in everyone else's situation, even when I know that some of these relationships are, quite frankly, crap. I see it as my time is over. I see it as I screwed it up by marrying and divorcing someone who doesn't understand me, doesn't appreciate me, and who doesn't even like me as a human.
Maybe you don't feel exactly this way, but perhaps it's something similar. Maybe it's trolling your Facebook news feed and gagging at all the "love posts." This place, this dark and crappy place in which no one wants to visit— can you blame them? —and in which you feel like you are the sole person on your own little planet, is no place to visit, no place to stay.
Empowered & Alone
This is the place where I live, most of the time. Sometimes I visit "sh*tville," but I like my town of empowered and alone. When I am empowered and alone, I see so many blessings around me. My bank account may be empty, but my heart is full of amazing friends. I think of the many times they've been there to lift me up, extend a hand, or simply tell me, you've got to take better care of yourself.
When I am empowered, I know that being a single parent is hard, and honestly feels like a thankless job at times (add in an ex who doesn't appreciate any of your parenting), but I feel so grateful for how far I have come.
I feel proud that I am doing the very best I can with what I've got. Even with rotten, moldy lemons, I make a damn good lemon martini out of them.
I think of how I went from being a nervous dater, to a confident one; from an unsure single, to a sure single—knowing what I want, what I need, and what would be best for me and my daughter.
I count every single time I have gotten down, and back up again. And when I know obstacles are headed my way, I feel anxious, but I try to tell myself that it will somehow all work out. And if it won't with my current set-up, I'll find a new solution.
I relish in the simple things, like going for a run, or tearing down in a weight room; stretching my legs in ballet; my daughter's warm hugs; the sight of happy friends; the taste of sweet chocolate; a night out with my girls; a nice dinner date; a handsome face.
It's the small things. When I am empowered, each small thing adds up to a feeling of happiness; and even if I'm not happy, it registers that even if today sucks, tomorrow could be better. When you're empowered and alone, there is always tomorrow. When you are lonely, tomorrow will only be worse.
When you are empowered and alone, you still feel life's bumps and hiccups; but you find solutions.
Written by Laura Lifshitz
Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated, writer, comedienne, and single mother. Laura will work for chocolate. The former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate is currently writing about divorce, sex, women's issues, fitness, parenting, marriage and more for the New York Times, DivorceForce, Women's Health, Redbook, Working Mother, Pop Sugar, Your Tango and numerous other sites. Her own website is FromMTVToMommy.com.