The Isolation of Single Parenthood

Updated: Nov 16, 2018

A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings. Remember that the next time you feel alone. - Unkown

It’s FRIYAY (woot woot) and it has been a fantastic day at work. You were given a raise and a promotion! Your hard work is paying off. You now have a new office with a great view. You’re so excited and can’t wait to get home to tell someone… Except there’s no one to tell.

You arrive home to an empty house because the kids are with their other parent this weekend. But it doesn’t deter you.

You want to celebrate and start texting friends to invite them out for a celebratory dinner; you’re buying. No one can go. Stacy has to go to a formal function with her husband. Maddie has to take care of her grandmother’s 20 cats with her boyfriend. Ryan and his wife have to attend a seminar on Antarctic mice. Taylor can’t find a babysitter for her 2 children who are sick with polio.

You’re not comfortable going out alone. Feeling bummed, you change into your ratty sweats and sit on the sofa and tell your dog and cat about your big promotion. They stare at you blankly then demand cuddles. At least they pay attention to you.

Then, you start to feel it. The sad, dark feeling that makes you think no one cares about you. You’re a third wheel. You’re alone. You have no one to talk to. You pick up your phone and call your mom. She doesn’t answer. So you text her (because your mom has developed an aversion to actually answering the phone). She texts back and tells you she and your father are at a dinner with friends and she will have to call you back in the morning. You throw your hands up in frustration and think, “I just want to talk to somebody! Doesn’t anyone care about me?”

You end up turning on the television to distract yourself. Nothing good is on. You find old re-runs of CSI: Miami on a channel you could care less about. You become annoyed with how many times Horacio looks over his sunglasses five minutes into the show.

Your mood is changing. You start feeling sorry for yourself. Are your friends really even your friends? Do they honestly care about you? Does anyone understand that you feel lonely when your kids are gone? Does anyone remember you exist? That you are absolutely alone?

Sighing to yourself, you make your way to the fridge looking for something to numb the pain. A pint of Halo Top sitting alone on the freezer shelf catches your eye. Before you know it, the pint is gone. Ice cream will have to surmise for dinner. You just don't feel like putting in any more effort.

It’s only 8:30, but there is nothing to do, so you decide to go to bed. You lay there tossing and turning. The loneliness has followed you to bed. Why won’t it just leave you alone?!

You start to question your life. You feel sad and shed some tears. You make the mistake of looking at Facebook while lying in bed. Everyone is posting photos of their amazing evenings and fun family time. They are surrounded by other people. Jealousy sets in. You get angry and throw your phone across the bed and resume tossing and turning. Finally, at 3am you doze off…

I don’t know about anyone else, but this seems to be an accurate depiction of my life more than not lately. It’s disheartening when loneliness and feelings of isolation creep in.

Immediately after my divorce, being alone didn't bother me. I never experienced sadness, emptiness, or feeling lonely.

I was recovering from a decade of horrific emotional, psychological and physical abuse; the peace and isolation were welcomed with open arms. I savored it. I no longer knew who I was, but I did know that I wanted to be left alone.

There was no more yelling. No more name-calling. No more walking on eggshells. The silence was amazing. I could actually sleep for the first time in almost a decade. I wasn’t questioned any time I left the house or went to the bathroom. I just simply existed in the calm.

I isolated myself to the extreme for several years and completely lost the ability to deal with people. I became so entwined in my simple yet busy routine with my children and work that I left no room for others to enter my life.

I convinced myself that no one cared about me. I was ashamed of my situation. I was hurt by rumors spread by people I formerly called friends and felt the best way to avoid further hurt was to avoid all people.

I became fearful of the potential of more abuse. I refused to date. I refused to go to church and found excuses to avoid social events at all costs. I started to avoid the friends who stood by me. I removed myself from social media completely and became a hermit.

In my head, I was protecting myself. In reality, I was only hurting myself.

As a result of this extreme self-isolation, I experience fear and anxiety in social situations. The abuse I suffered severely affected my self-esteem and confidence, but the negative self-talk from my reprogrammed brain hasn't helped much either.

I am so fearful of rejection, whether perceived or real. The thought of haters commenting on my blog makes me want to vomit. Making simple decisions is excruciating at times. I know without a doubt I have social anxiety.

Every day tasks such as going to the grocery store have become almost unbearable. Even going through a fast food drive through is difficult for me. I am incredibly grateful for online ordering at this point as my ability to function normally outside of the necessity of work has become very hard.

I enjoy my own company and I love spending time with my kids, but I honestly have no idea how to go about finding meaningful friendships with other adults. I don’t seem to fit in anywhere. My married friends have disappeared; they quit talking to me after the divorce was finalized. My single friends assume I’m always busy with my children, so they don’t bother to invite me anywhere.

I'm paranoid that all people will hurt me.

I think it’s common for single parents to feel this way. Rejected. Alone. Misfits. A scarlet letter pinned to our backs. Too busy to be cared about by others. I know these feelings are very real to me.

Sometimes we get set into such a busy routine as single parents, we forget to really live and to make meaningful connections with others. Sometimes we just really don't have the time. Sometimes society views us as different and we are purposefully excluded.

Many of us, including myself, are guilty of assuming that this is just the way things are so we keep rolling with the punches without putting in an effort to create change.

Social connection is something that is absolutely necessary for this life. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, we are told "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken." The Lord did not create us to be alone, but figuring out how to not be alone has absolutely been one of the most difficult things I've ever experienced in my life.

Over the last few years, I have fought the social anxiety beast with everything I have. Once the peace of what I refer to as “healing isolation” wore off, I found myself yearning for interaction with other adults. For friendship.

My kids are amazing and I adore every second I am blessed to spend with them, but talking about Pokémon and Minecraft over and over doesn’t do much to stimulate my brain cells. I need meaningful and supportive relationships with other adults. People I can go to when I need prayer and when I need support.

I have to build up a lot of courage to talk to people and it's exhausting. I feel stupid often. I have no idea how to make small talk and I often find myself wanting to run back to my safe place of isolation, never leaving my home. Realistically, I know this is no way to live.

I have discovered that it is EXTREMELY hard to find and make friends as a single parent. Does anyone else have his issue or am I the only one?

Childcare or lack thereof, custody times, work, and the need for sleep seem to conglomerate into one big time-consuming mess and make it near impossible to meet people or socialize. It takes effort. A lot of effort. Doing things that might make you uncomfortable. I have been doing things to break out of my shell a bit, but... It. Is. Hard.

I spend a lot of time praying about loneliness and how to handle social anxiety. I have come to the conclusion the Lord is using this season of isolation in my life to mold me for His purpose. He's helping me to discover who He wants me to be.

I became very lost during my marriage. Lost my sense of self and purpose. I had no idea who I was when I left that relationship. The happy, fun-loving girl was long gone. This season has been used to show me what I'm supposed to be doing and now I feel true excitement about things to come.

The shattered pieces of my life are falling back into place at His pace. I'm not rushing it. He is revealing my gifts and I'm finding new ways to share these gifts with others. He is bringing understanding people into my life. He has encouraged me to write in an effort to help others who might be feeling the same way.

Slowly but surely, I am emerging and feeling more confident in my faith, more confident in myself. More confident in my relationship with the Lord. My social anxiety is improving.

Isolation has proven to be the catalyst for pushing me toward the Lord. I am closer to Him than I have ever been. I am so grateful for the clear line of communication between He and I; uninterrupted by outside noise. Instead of feeling sad and sorry for myself that I am alone, I pray.

I am encouraged by the Lord's promise that I am not alone. He is always there. Sometimes we just need to be alone with Him for awhile in order to grow. We are told in the Bible that Jesus prayed alone on multiple occasions. Shouldn't we use this season to do the same? I think there is definitely a method to this isolation madness.

Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

I am learning to find peace in my solitary life. The lonely feeling is subsiding. It still shows up every now and then, but I am now aware that it is temporary. Only a season and not a life sentence.

The Lord is preparing me for something amazing. He just needs my full attention right now to get me there. As He has commanded me, I'm being still and knowing that He's in control. I'm not alone.

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