Huffpost Divorce
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Dr. Andra Brosh  Headshot

Feeling Like a Fish Out of Water After Divorce? 3 Ways to Jump Back In

Posted: Updated:
Print

2014-05-01-fish.JPG

You don't know anyone who's divorced, all your friends are married, and you can't wrap your head around being "single".

There's something about the experience of divorce that makes even the most confident person feel marginalized and excluded. Perhaps it's social stigma or confusion around how society is supposed to respond, but feeling like you don't belong anywhere is one of the most demoralizing human experiences you could have.

Obviously the people who leave their marriage for another person, or who are lucky (or desperate) enough to meet someone right away don't have to endure this feeling of being outside the circle.

But for those of us who have chosen to take a more mindful and patient path, the long days, months and even years of feeling like a refugee can hurt the soul.

No doubt you will return to some form of normalcy within the confines of your new world, but in the meantime how do you deal with the feelings of being an outcast, third wheel, or fish out of water?

I'll give you the 3 pieces of advice that I have given myself and all the other people I work with living on the peripheral.

Swim up stream

Being married is part of the social status we have built as part of our societal norms. It's easy to buy into the fact that being married and living that life is the ultimate goal for everyone, and that we should all aspire to that destiny. Since you've been let out of the constricted view that most other people still hold of marriage, you can take the opportunity to shift who you are. I would recommend that as long as you feel different why not BE DIFFERENT. Being like everyone else is underrated and it harkens back feelings of wanting to be part of the club in middle school. You are an independent and unique human being so run with this new freedom and teach the world about new kinds of role modeling for divorce.

Get back in the water

Getting back into a social experience is an important part of your recovery. You don't want to close yourself off completely because you'll restrict your natural need for connection. You are wired to be social and to feel a sense of belonging so it's essential that you find a way to do this. It doesn't have to be dating or forcing yourself to go to parties if that's not your thing. Try showing up to an event related to your interests, or attend a workshop where everyone is alone and there to learn. Socializing doesn't always mean talking, hanging out and having drinks. We're always being socialized even when we chat with the checker at the grocery store. The point here is that there is no need to wait to be invited to something, and there are no rules about how you exercise your right to belong to something greater than yourself.

Find a New School of Fish

So many divorcing people feel stuck in the abyss between their old life and their new one. Old friends slip away with divorce, and it can feel awkward to hang around married people at this point in your life. Making new friends is daunting and feels impossible sometimes, but it's really more about re-inventing yourself. When you keep your life the same after divorce, and don't use it as an opportunity to explore you limit your chances of developing new relationships. Don't expect your old models to fit the new version of who you are, and remember that you are changing for the better not getting worse. While having things remain the same is comfortable and familiar, it can also become complacent and boring.