How You Can Feel Lonely, Even When You Are Not Alone

Living in a house full of people can still feel isolated during a pandemic.

Can you imagine living in a house with your ex-husband? How about with his wife, her ex-husband and kids?  That’s been my life for the past 14 days.  We are grateful that we continue to be healthy while so many others are not.  We are also grateful to be here together, though it’s not easy.

I’ve been separated and divorced for eight years. In that time, I have never lived with a single person for this long.  Not even my kids, since they typically live in both homes.  While I am now constantly surrounded by people, and even enjoying much of it, life is lonely.

It’s lonely thinking about how long we will be here. It’s lonely coming to the realization that technically I’m going to stay “alone” for while.  It’s lonely even though my son is sharing my room. It’s lonely thinking that all relationships will continue to be distant.  It’s lonely thinking that my in person interactions right now aren’t with the people I would choose to live with.

But that’s the reality, so we are all making the best of it.  So how is it actually working? What’s our daily routine?  Is everyone getting along?  What are the struggles and challenges?

It’s so hard to even gather my thoughts on this.  It truly is just so bizarre that every time I go to write about it, I have to stop because it doesn’t seem real.

We all fell into a routine.  We began with daily group workouts on an app on my iPad.  With slow drop off of participants, it’s now become a daily routine I share with my ex-husband’s wife.  The very same person who until four years into their relationship, just two years ago, we hadn’t connected. We both now coordinate our work schedules and find an hour each day to take classes.   Working out is not lonely. 

We are all helping the kids with their distance learning.  While all together and loving it, they are lonely learning. 

We are all trying to find our own corners or space in the house to work.  We are being mindful of each other’s time on spotty, over-crowded Wi-Fi, so we can all get our work done. 

We are doing our best to respect each other.  The weather has been challenging and for most of the time here so far, we haven’t been able to get outside. There is little privacy.  There’s little time alone.  Sometimes, in those times, I crave the lonely.

There’s just one television so we all have to agree what’s on. My ex doesn’t want to hear the news. I can’t get enough of it.  My ex keeps joking about how long we will be here, that feeds my lonely. 

My ex parents differently than I do.  His wife parents their kids differently then their dad does. My ex sometimes chimes in on his step-daughters.   I want to chime in, (and tell him to keep out) but keep my mouth shut (so far).  That’s lonely. 

Each night all seven of us come together for dinner as a big, blended family.  We are cooking, cleaning and going around the table each night sharing what we are grateful for and what our favorite part of the day was.  Just days ago, we were all off on our schedules and didn’t have our dinner. We all agreed we missed it and vowed to make sure that doesn’t happen again.  Dinner is far from lonely.

So we continue to blend and continue to learn, and continue find ways to support each other and to come together despite sometimes feeling alone.  I’m now reminded of how I sometimes felt when battling cancer as a divorced mom, you can be lonely even when not alone.

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