Babyface asked a good question. “When does ‘You’ll get over it’ begin?” A Wall Street Journal article has an answer: about two years. According to mental health experts interviewed for the piece, people on average need two years to get over the trauma of a divorce or a job loss. The process is even longer if you were blindsided by the divorce or you weren’t expecting to get fired.
On the face of it, two years seems like an awfully long time (and trust me when I say that everyone, their mamas and their mamas’ cousins will tell you precisely when you need to get over it MUCH sooner than that two year mark), but when you think about all that goes into a marriage, it makes sense that the recovery process is such a doozy.
Here’s a lengthy, but thought-provoking bit from the article that caught my eye:
Some experts call this recovery period an “identity crisis process.” It is perfectly normal, they say, to feel depressed, anxious and distracted during this time—in other words, to be an emotional mess. (Getting over the death of a loved one is more complicated and typically will take even longer than two years, experts say.)
Some people may find they need less than two years to bounce back from a divorce. But experts caution that it probably doesn’t pay to ignore the process, hurry it along or deny it, say, by immediately moving across the country to get a fresh start or diving into a new relationship. That will probably only postpone the day of reckoning.
After all, it takes time to rethink all the things that may be disrupted by emotional trauma, such as one’s living situation, finances, professional goals and—maybe most important—how a person sees him or herself. There aren’t any shortcuts. “The whole sweep of your life has to be reassessed and rewoven,” Dr. Gourguechon says.
“The whole sweep of your life has to be reassessed and rewoven.” I think that is the main part that folks don’t understand. “Getting over” a divorce is not as simple as throwing on a “f*ck him” dress (as Martin Lawrence so aptly coined in his stand-up routine), downing a bottle of wine with your girls and getting your groove back with some model-esque pretty boy. There is an entire life to be re-charted and possibly some identity issues to confront.
Unless you only got married for money or status or something silly like that, all of that emotional investment into a lifetime partnership will take some time, energy and focus to properly re-settle.
But this makes me go back to a version of Babyface’s question. When does the clock start ticking on this two-year process? Is it when you first really understand that the marriage/relationship is over? Because that moment varies greatly from person to person. For some folks that moment is long before any papers are signed or even a whisper of divorce is mentioned. For others it is spending that first holiday or anniversary alone. Some might come to that aha moment while watching a favorite part in a movie you both loved and turning to share the laugh, but nobody is there…or worse yet, somebody is there who doesn’t “get it.”
Divorce is heavy stuff. Of course this article made me think about my own recovery process, but I had never really put a time period on it. I’m still not, but like the divorced person in the article said, it does feel comforting to hear that two years is the norm, but not a deadline. Makes me feel more confident in the validity and course of my personal journey. This is my process. I have to own it and hopefully be a better person during and after it.
I guess the moral of the story is, let a person’s journey be her own. No judgement. Just support.