“It’s too late for me.”
“I’m too damaged.”
“I won’t be able to love again. To trust again.”
“Nobody will want me with all this baggage.”
“I’m going to be alone forever.”
Those were all thoughts that cycled stubbornly through my reeling mind after I was abandoned by my first husband. I was afraid that I would never again experience that greatest feeling in the world of returning to the sanctuary of loving arms after a bad day. I grew convinced that nobody else would ever whisper, “Love you,” as he slid my glasses off of my sleeping face. My mind’s eye alternated between playing slideshows of the happy moments of my now-defunct marriage and scenes from an imagined future where I grew ever-older and ever-lonelier.
It seems almost laughable to me now as I look back at that early end-of-the-world mindset that turned out not to have any prophetic powers.
It was anything but laughable at the time.
Those fears, sensing a new and fragile void, rushed in and filled every crevice with doubt about hope and conviction about despair. And I was a captive listener.
Understanding and Addressing Loneliness After Divorce
There are five lies that those fears are telling you. Falsehoods that feed on vulnerabilities and insecurities at a time when our defenses are down and we crave some certainty in our torn and tattered lives.
When you start to recognize those lies, it helps to silence the fear:
Fear Tells Us Now is Always
At the end of a marriage, all you feel is loss. An ever-aching wound after a tooth has been pulled from its anchor. And when you’re feeling loss, it’s practically impossible to imagine joy. And it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that the way it is now – hurting, lonely, scared – is the way it will always be.
Yet the one certainty in life is change. Today, whether good or bad, always morphs into tomorrow, often bringing with it unexpected visitors. Right now, you feel alone. Right now, you feel unloved. Right now, you hurt. Tomorrow? Who knows?
I was so proud of one of my students the other day. She confided, “I don’t like my life right now.” There’s wisdom for all of us in her last two words. The life you have now will not be the life you have tomorrow.
And fear possesses no special powers. It holds no crystal ball. It doesn’t try to predict the future, it simply projects the worst.
Now is not always. And now will always change.
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Fear Tells Us It’s Too Late
I was weeks shy of 32 when I was unceremoniously dumped via text message. And I thought it was too late for me to find love again. It was an absurd thought for me to have – my parents remarried after that age, I had plenty of friends who had found love well beyond their early 30s and I knew many people who were actively dating in my age range.
But none of that mattered.
Because here’s the thing with age –
The oldest you’ve ever been is the age you are at. this. moment.
You’ve experienced every age below you. And everything yet to come is merely a guess. And that fear of being alone loves to convince you that it’s all going downhill from here.
And so we remember love at our younger selves and we imagine being alone with our older self.
I have many love mentors in my life that I have looked to in times when I have been in need of hope. One couple, now happily married in their seventies, met in their sixties.
The truth is that the only time it’s too late is when you believe it’s too late.
And not a moment sooner.
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Fear Tells Us We’ve Lost the One
In the beginning, I wanted to date men like my former husband because all I could imagine loving was my former husband. If I couldn’t have the one, at least I could try to find a reasonable facsimile.
As you can imagine, that didn’t work out too well.
Much like the only ages we know are the ones we’ve lived, the only loves we know are the ones we’ve had.
So it’s easy to believe that the one slipped through the cracks beyond hope of retrieve.
I eventually realized that I didn’t want an ex-shaped new love. I had changed. I no longer wanted the same person. I opened up to the possibility of something new. Unknown.
Very few of us will move through our lives with only a single romantic love. Yet no matter how many we’ve experienced, it’s always difficult to imagine one more.
It reminds me of something I heard a pregnant friend say while rubbing her belly- “I just can’t imagine loving this one as much as I do the others.” Her three children played nearby. Even though she had felt and surpassed these doubts twice before, fear was still planting seeds in her mind. And no surprise, fear was wrong. She loved baby number four just as much as the others.
You may have lost one. You haven’t lost the only one.
How a Belief in a Soul Mate Is Holding You Back
Fear Tells Us We Are Doomed to Repeat the Past
Just as I was starting to get my dating sea legs under me, I was ghosted. Again. This time by a man that was speaking of a possible future and trying to convince me to stay in Atlanta instead of continuing with my planned escape out of the region.
Here’s how I saw it – Once was a fluke. Twice was a pattern.
I was doomed to be dumped.
As with many lies fear tells, this one has some basis in reality. If I continued to attach anxiously, I would cause the past to stutter and repeat.
But if I changed, the pattern would change as well.
We are not merely toy boats upon the stream, subject to the whims of the currents and the waves. Although we cannot control the stream, we can improve our vessel and learn how to better steer around obstacles.
It’s important to study the past. Not so that we know what to expect, but so that we can make better decisions going forward.
You’re only doomed to repeat the past if you’re stuck in the past.
11 Traps That Hold You Back After Divorce
Fear Tells Us It Is Reality
Fear is well-practiced at slipping on the disguises of concern and pragmatism, when really it is distracting us from rational thought. It pretends that it is telling us the harsh truths we need to hear to make us better while holding us back with ties of fiction. Fear pretends to whisper the future when it is actually keeping us prisoner of the past.
Fear makes for a poor life coach.
Time to fire your fear of being alone.
Learn to embrace this pause. This moment between. This period when you’re unmoored and unattached.
And be open to tomorrow. Be open to possibilities. Be open to love.
19 thoughts on “Will I Be Alone Forever?”
I can totally relate!
Being alone can be a scary thing for sure.
Great blog post – and great minds think alike! This week, I, too, wrote about fear and the loop of negativity that our ego feeds us upon our struggle with identity and separation. Thank you for sharing your courageous and inspirational story. I especially liked the mention of “love mentors” – reminders all around to remain hopeful and always open to love.
I love when synchronicity occurs in the blog world…it makes for a rich tapestry of stories and experiences:)
Do you have any love mentors in your life?
Very well stated. Fear can keep us from moving forward. My biggest fear is going through another dissolution. Once is too much but life is far better. A two edged sword.
Oh, I hear you! I have two thoughts about second divorce- at least I would know that I could survive yet I know how bloody hard it would be to do so. On the plus side, that fear is a great motivator to do the self-work and marriage-work needed to keep a relationship healthy.
This may very well be my favorite post of yours, and that is saying a lot! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful perspective, as it gives me hope.
🙂 It’s always interesting to me to see what posts “speak” to which people. I’m glad it gave you hope! And thank you for your continued support.
Great post. I am in a different space as, enjoying the freedom of being alone and my greatest ‘fear’ at the moment is having that taken away (ie becoming attached to someone). Isn’t it strange how attitude changes with the distance of time?
Yes! It’s so funny to me how many things exist on a continuum and that people have a tendency to respond to stress by moving to one side or the other. There are certainly great aspects of being alone with the complete and total freedom it provides. Enjoy those freedoms!!:)
Spot on again Ms. Arends. I have been paralyzed with the fear of another dissolution potentially– my divorce following a 25 year marriage was soul crushing– I never want to go through that again so I have become a ” romantic sloth” moving as slowly as the tree hugging animal. Your blog gave me the hope that ” life always changes” and perhaps ” she” is out there somewhere. I loved the line” you may have lost one but not the only one”. I have been reading your blog since my divorce in 2012. And though I am lonely– I somehow survived a devastating period. Thank you Lisa for being a part of my healing with your honestly and transparency– and gift of communication.
Wife left me in 2001 I was 30,
Been alone 16 years and counting. At this point I think I’m getting to old to have a family.
Life sucks, then you die.
I’m sorry to hear you feel this way. Whenever I hear or think, “I’m too old to..” I think of a friend of mine who remarried in his late 60s. He’s happier than ever now approaching his mid 70s. Never say never.
Love mentor? Interesting concept. Can’t say I have anything like that. Raised by my mother. Never met my father or his side any of his family. My grandparents hated each other. My uncle’s we’re /are asses. So not much in the roll model categories.
Divorced over 2 yrs ago. Couldn’t forgive the lies and cheating anymore. She finds “love” easily. I can’t connect emotionally anymore. The majority of my time is work and my kids. They are my passion.
Living in a small town, sucks. Nothing in common with people here. The few friends I do have simply can’t understand what I’m going through. This life sucks.
Sounds rough. I can believe that being in a small town is hard for many reasons, especially post divorce when you’re looking for new social connections. Do you have any online groups where you feel like you have common interests and/or experiences? That might help supplement your friend group some. Also, are there any candidates for “adopted” grandparents? The elderly often have wisdom and understanding found through a lifetime of experience. If your blood-related ones are negative, there’s nothing to say you can’t find your own. Thinking of you!
Love this!!! And you! Thank you for helping through some really dark times! Now is NOT forever 😉
😊 I think that recognizing the temporary nature of feelings is a challenge for all of us!