The other day someone asked me how long it should take to get over their divorce?
While I would have loved to give them a simple answer, it is not that cut and dry. The truth is it will take—as long as it takes. Every situation is different. Divorce itself, even if you and your partner agree that the marriage is not working and divorce is the best option, is not easy.
Your marriage ended for any number of reasons that can be hard to accept. Your divorce challenged your innermost voices, it put strain on your self-esteem and turned your entire world upside down. It is not supposed to be an easy thing to recover from. Even if you know in your heart that it was the right choice, it doesn’t mean that you will instantly feel wonderful.
Your Internal Core
When you got married you expected to be with your partner forever. You made a commitment to each other to care in sickness and in health, to stand by each other in times of stress, and to grow old together. Just the mere factor of that not working out is a huge disappointment. It is a major blow to your internal core as a human being.
That is not even taking into account things like children, pets, shared possessions—like homes, cars, etc. You are now faced with figuring out a new normal. If you have children you are likely feeling the strain of their own emotional distress. You are trying to make things as easy as possible on them, while it is hurting you to see them hurt. You may have been forced to move out of your home, split up possessions that may have been of high importance to you, and you may be feeling more financial strain than ever before—divorce is not cheap.
All of these things make getting over such a thing extremely difficult. Don’t try to rush your heart. Instead, take comfort in knowing that you will find that new normal. You will. You will be able to move on. Your kids will be ok. You will find that happiness, that relief, whatever it is that you need. You will. In time. These things take time.
Counseling services are always there for you if you need an extra set of ears to bounce things off of, or if you need guidance in how to move through this major life change.
Do not mistake the two. They might seem similar but they are far from it. There are some big differences between people-pleasing and being generous with people.
People-pleasing is an unintentional behavior that often leads to avoidance, anxiety, resentment. It is full of fear of rejection and potential judgment of others. It comes from a place of wanting to fit in, to not make others mad, and to come off as someone different than we are. People-pleasing is often a factor in low self-confidence and feeling like we “have” to do something in order to make others like us.
Being generous comes from the heart. It is intentional. It is something we want to do. It is an action done not by trying to fill a void but because we genuinely enjoy doing it.
People-pleasers are the ones who never say “no.” They often stretch themselves so thin that they have nothing left for themselves or for the things they really do want to do. This behavior often leads to an unhealthy lifestyle, and the placing of “self-care” on the back-burner indefinitely. People-pleasers rarely show their true feelings. They always have a smile on their face.
People who act out of generosity live a more fulfilled life. They feel good about the things they are doing. They don’t feel like they need or deserve, anything in return because the real return is in the value of what they are doing.
So, while being generous and people-pleasing can both be seen as acts of kindness on the surface one is a healthy action while the other can lead to a toxic lifestyle. Make the decision to change your people-pleasing ways and live a happier, calmer life. Make 2019 the year of you. Do what makes you feel good. Be yourself, stop pretending, and appreciate you for all the beautiful things about who you are.
Imagine a life that didn’t revolve around what you think another person is thinking. Or what you think another person wants or expects from you. It’s called people-pleasing and let’s make the conscious choice to end the habit.
Imagine how less stressed and overwhelmed you would feel if you didn’t put so much energy into making sure everyone else is happy. There is a difference between doing things out of the goodness of your heart and doing things just to “look good.” Rather let’s stop hiding behind our fears of potentially upsetting someone, or not coming off as “perfect” as we think others should see us — and be ourselves.
Ending people-pleasing means more time for ourselves. It means less worry over the upcoming get-together, the side dish you are bringing to dinner, the outfit you want to wear because it’s comfortable. When you do things because you truly want to do them they leave you feeling good, whereas a life of people-pleasing generally makes us feel resentful, bitter, and stressed. People-pleasing keeps us up at night. It makes us dread events, meetings, occasions that don’t have to cause us stress.
Let’s start by being more self-aware. When you feel overwhelmed, stressed reevaluate the reasons why you feel that way, chances are much of it is because of the intense energy you are putting into pleasing others. Recognize what you need to do for yourself and stand up for you. It is ok to say “no” if something is stressing you out. It is ok to not perform an action in the exact way someone else expects you to. It could be as simple as choosing to not answer the phone or staying home to read a book instead of attending a party.
I hear from clients all the time about how they are not able to maintain their friendships. They are kicking themselves, feeling bad, for not keeping the same relationships with their friends over time.
They used to go over to their friends’ homes, talk on the phone daily, and share all of lives little moments. Now, they have to plan out a girls night weeks or even months in advance. They rarely have a chance to call and catch up. They realize that they haven’t even told their friend they got a new job or that story about how your kid fell asleep in the middle of the kitchen floor.
Friendships change. As an adult you are busier, you have more responsibilities, more demands on time. You might move to chase a career or a spouse. Your worldview might change. It is ok to feel grief, sadness, loss over a changing friendship. It is ok to miss those phone calls and late night movies. But, it is also normal to lose touch. It is normal, and expected, to put your family and other demands on your time first. That is not to say it is not important to still have friends because yes, of course, it is. You still need friend time but it is probably less frequent and maybe with different friends than you previously had.
As our lives change our friendship needs do also. Women with children often find they have more in common with other women with children. You share the same stressors and anxiety. You can relate. The same can be said for the working mom vs the stay-at-home mom, the boy mom vs the girl mom, the single mom vs. the married, etc. Maybe you have faced some health challenges and you need someone who can understand your pain and frustration.
This is all part of life. We evolve, we mature, our circumstances are altered. We drift apart from each other, and that is ok.
There are many reasons for divorce to occur leading to a vast array of emotions. But why would bitter feelings occur if you and your partner agree that your marriage isn’t working? If you don’t have any hard or angry feelings toward your partner then why would you feel so upset at the situation? Why can’t you just end the marriage and move on?
It is because when you walked down that aisle you had an expectation of what marriage would be. You thought you would spend your life with this person and be happy and in love through the process. Now that reality is setting in and this expectation has been shattered, you are grieving. You have lost your marriage and now you have to grieve that loss.
It is truly human nature to feel this way, according to a Psychology Today article that looks at a study done on chimpanzees. When all of their basic needs are met— safety, love, survival, esteem, and actualization— they act much differently than if they are missing one of those five. When you go through a divorce you are bound to feel bitter, angry, scared, and just plain jerkish because you are not having all your needs met. You suddenly have to worry about all these things you didn’t have to concern yourself with before. When we feel safe, secure, and loved we are able to rationalize things better.
In addition to having your expectations shattered, you are also in for a whole slew of changes and let’s be frank — us humans don’t like change very much. Divorce also brings up many feelings of being powerless and out-of-control, you might not know how things are going to play out, what will tomorrow be like? And, there is a need to fight for what you love and believe—a sense of entitlement. Even if you still deeply care for your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you remember how long it took to pick out that couch downstairs and you want it back. You also worked really hard to save up for that house and now you don’t want to sell it. You want to hang on to the things that are important to you.
Divorce is one of the most stressful things a person can ever endure. It is a mountain of obstacles to face and it takes time and energy to get to the other side. If you are feeling overwhelmed, bitter, stressed, angry, know this is normal. Seek help from a licensed therapist who can help you to take care of yourself.