4 Keys to Finding the Support You Need After Divorce

Woman sitting on wood boards by the waterAs human beings, we are wired to connect and belong. When we become alienated from or rejected by our communities, families, or society, we may feel adrift and lost.

This profound feeling of isolation and being on the outside of the circle of connection is a common aspect of getting divorced. No matter how much support you have or seek, it’s difficult to escape the experience of alienation.

One of the main reasons people get married and start a family is to create a life that embodies connection and a sense of belonging. This may be particularly true when our own nuclear families are broken or detached.

You are designed to seek a sense of connection for your survival. Our ancestors couldn’t survive without community—fellow cave dwellers, villages of people.

When your marriage ends and divorce fragments your social system, you understandably flounder and struggle to belong. Friends may disappear, children may be uprooted or choose sides, family may reject or misunderstand, and everyone else may seem (or even be) indifferent.

Finding support is essential as you rediscover your sense of belonging and connection. It’s the first step you should take, in fact.

You need a village of people who welcome and embrace you within the context of your transition.

You need to become part of a tribe, not a demographic.

Finding support is essential as you rediscover your sense of belonging and connection. It’s the first step you should take, in fact.

Metaphorically, transitioning through divorce is like crossing a hanging bridge connecting two mountains, with a fire burning behind you. You have to cross, but feel afraid of whether the supports beneath your feet will hold.

You had faith in where you were, and now you’re forced to have faith in your ability to get where you need to go. You are forced to renew your faith in humanity even as you lose faith in your partner and the life you thought you’d have.

Your feelings of exclusion from the life you had are real, but generalizing this feeling to your greater circle is often irrational and puts you on a slippery slope toward isolation.

Here are four steps to take in this important journey toward reconnection:

  1. Join a support group: The power of group support in helping a person to heal from difficult times is well documented. Any recovery process is likely to be more successful with a strong support system that offers safety and accessible people to talk to when things get rough. Hearing other people’s stories may serve to normalize your experience and make you feel like you belong.
  2. Participate in online forums: Joining a chat room, message board, or commenting on blogs may generate a sense of community. Reading about other people’s stories may align you with others, and offering your own words of support may help you to feel like you’re part of something greater.
  3. Attend events and get involved: Head out to some classes or events in your community even if they are unrelated to divorce. Participating in a movement or being part of someone else’s passion may connect you to people with an intention. Your goal is to feel like you’re part of something, and this could be anything that touches your heart or inspires you.
  4. Align with outliers: Our world is filled with pockets of people who don’t feel “normal” or like they belong. The aging population, disabled people, and LGBT people are just a few examples of groups who often struggle to be accepted. Recognizing that you walk this earth among diverse and unique human beings may put your situation into perspective. You may feel alone, but you are actually one of many who struggle to find their place.

You deserve to be included, regardless of what is happening in your life. Embracing this sense of self-value in the midst of feeling rejected is challenging, but very possible with a shift in mind-set.

There will always be people who don’t understand, who alienate and drift away in times of need. You cannot control this aspect of your experience, but you can control your relationship to yourself.

Be mindful not to alienate or reject yourself. We can be our worst enemies at times when we need a good friend most.

Be that friend to yourself.

© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Andra Brosh, PhD, therapist in Los Angeles, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Mischa


    June 11th, 2015 at 1:09 PM

    What made my divorce even harder is that I come from a very evangelical background so my whole family thought that I was supposed to stay and take the abuse all for the sake of staying married.
    It is hard to go through an event like this knowing that there is really no one who understands you or who is on your side.
    I felt like in this divorce of one person that I was actually having to fight back against the whole world and that made it incredibly difficult to come out of that without being hurt.

  • Linda


    June 11th, 2015 at 5:13 PM

    I started going to a support group at my church for divorced parents and that helped me quite a bit. It helped me see that I wasn’t alone even on those darkest days.

  • teller


    June 12th, 2015 at 7:58 AM

    It’s not like fifty years ago when divorces were unheard of. Now it seems that there are more people who are divorced than those who aren’t.

    There are generally support groups in pretty much every town just because it has become so prevalent.

  • Nate


    June 15th, 2015 at 10:39 AM

    Divorce is such a common thing these days that I think that it would be hard to find someone who has not been faced with divorce themselves or who doesn’t know someone who has. The point of this is that there are bound to be those all around you who understand what you are going through, who can help you through this difficult time. You might even want to consider seeing a counselor for some other things that you might be feeling and need to have resolved. It won’t be an easy time, but there are tons of tools and resources out there to help you through this emotional time.

  • Jason


    June 16th, 2015 at 3:40 PM

    This could be a difficult time, but one where if you need something you might have to suck it up and ask. I know that when I went through my own divorce other people it seemed like they were trying to avoid the conversation about it like the plague when what I really needed was to vent. I never felt like I truly had someone I could talk to because they would shy away from it. I think that they thought that they were helping me by avoiding the topic.

  • Judith


    June 17th, 2015 at 8:18 AM

    I am not sure which would be worse, going through a divorce when the kids are small or waiting until they are older. The kids are going to have such differing needs at different points in their lives, and I am just not sure which time would be the toughest.
    I always thought that my kids needed me more when they were younger but the older they get the needs actually grow and are greater.

  • Lily de Grey

    Lily de Grey

    June 24th, 2015 at 6:04 AM

    Hey, Dr. Brosh! I appreciate you sharing this article with us. I recently finalized my divorce with the help of my divorce attorney, so I’m extremely glad that I have your advice to aid me in the recovery process. I liked your recommendation of aligning yourself with outliers—like LGBT people, for instance. Here’s to a new life!

  • Dr Brosh

    Dr Brosh

    June 24th, 2015 at 9:57 AM

    Thanks Lily! That’s amazing and so nice to hear :)

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