It is normal for your marriage to be at the center of your social life. You have a built-in activity partner. You share friends. The "plus one" is expected when you receive an invitation.
And then the marriage dies.
Your go-to is gone. The mutual friends may be divvied up like a bag of Skittles, or they may simply scatter as though the bag of candy was dropped to the floor.
It is tempting to hide. To hibernate. You may want to pull the covers over your head and not come out until the debris field has been cleared. It's tempting, but it won't help you heal. Think of the skin under a bandage that has been left on too long. Is that what you want your heart to look like?
Hopefully you have some stalwart friends who stick by your side. These are the ones who don't run from your tears or hide from your rants. Treasure these friends. They are true.
Eventually, you will tire of being seen as the "divorcing one." You will want to try on new guises and play with new personas. This is a wonderful opportunity to try new things and meet new people. Surround yourself with others who have a zest for life, even if they only flit in and out of your life for a moment. Let them teach you. It is a time to win friends and be influenced by people. Practice saying "yes" to experiences you would have avoided before. Celebrate. Laugh. Live. Then go home and cry if you need to.
No one friend can meet all of your needs during divorce. The following types of friends are priceless as you navigate your divorce:
The Rational Friend
Divorce has a way of making you go a little crazy. You do and say things that you normally would not and your common sense seems to disappear. Your rational friend is the one who talks you out of your impulse to plaster your ex's face on a billboard or desire to date out of revenge. This is the friend that gives you sage and mature advice and doesn't partake in your ex-bashing sessions.
The Let it All Hang Out Friend
Of course, sometimes you want someone to help you in you ex-bashing. That's when you turn to this friend. This is the confidant that will hold nothing back and tell it like is. Loudly. Usually over drinks. This friend will help you purge the negative emotions as you cuss and scream and cry and laugh, often all at the same time.
The Friend Who Knew You Before
During divorce, you often feel like you're losing part of yourself. Especially if you were in the marriage for a long time, it's difficult to remember who you were prior to the relationship. This friend can help you reacquaint with the earlier and more innocent you. These are the friends that often fade into the background when we are married. Take this time to reconnect with the friends of your youth and let them remind you of your spirit.
The Friend You Only Met After
When you are in the process of divorce, your marital status is often front and center in your interactions. Eventually, this gets old and you just want to be you. Or maybe you even want to be someone a little different then who you were during your marriage, but your existing friends already have you typecast. Take this opportunity to make new friends. You can tell them about the divorce. Or not.
The Fun Friend
This is the friend that will get you off the couch and have you doing something you never thought you would try. They may call with a party invitation one week and an offer to drive cross-country the next. They will drag you out of your comfort zone kicking and screaming. But then you'll be laughing so hard that you don't care.
The Hot Opposite Sex Friend
Well, you are single now, aren't you? This easy-on-the-eyes companion is great when you're starting to awaken to the opposite sex again but you are nowhere near ready to venture into the dating world. This friend gives you a chance to flirt and feel attractive and sexual again. In some cases this may go further; however, I personally recommend keeping sex and your friends separate, especially when you are vulnerable.
The Non-Human Friend
Animals can make the best companions when we're having a rough time. They truly practice unconditional love and will never judge you. On those days when talking with a human friend is simply too overwhelming, try connecting with a fur buddy. Kisses are optional but always nice.
The True Friend
This is the friend that lets you be the real you, whether that be sobbing in the fetal position on the floor or putting on a way-too-short skirt for your first post-divorce date. This is the companion who will pick you up, give you a place to live and a purpose for living.
You may not have all of these types of friends in your life at the time of the divorce. I know I did not. I had to make the choice and the consistent effort to find and build friendships. I joined Meetup.com, I talked to people I met at the gym or coffee shop and I accepted invitations even when I wanted to hide. I met new friends and strengthened existing bonds. Many of those people are still in my life today while others made their influence and moved on.
Your world will stabilize again. Friendships will build. You will learn to navigate without the "plus one." Until that time, reach out and make some new friends even if only for a day. And, you never know, you may just find a new "plus one."
This post originally appeared on the blog, Lessons From the End of a Marriage.
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