I know you’ve all heard the platitudes…dust yourself off, time heals all wounds; you’re gonna wash that man right out of your hair; you’re better off without him/her, yada yada yada. Which brings me to the theme of my blog…There have been two seminal events in my life which lead to an identity crisis. Both were actually of my own doing but I still went through a difficult time because of the decisions I chose to make. The first event was when I finally came to the decision to divorce the man I had been married to for 13 years and had known since I was 14. He was the only man I had ever dated. He was a musician and my life revolved around his life. Until I began to change and came to the realization that I wanted a different life for myself. He wasn’t going to change for me. What’s the old saying? If you can’t “change” the people around you, then “change” the people around you. He wanted to go to marriage counseling. I said OK. I went in to talk to the counselor and basically said, this marriage is over. Read more… Please help him understand this. At the time, I was working at a large travel agency as their director of leisure travel. I got a job offer in Los Angeles to be the west coast leisure director for a national travel consortium. I remember relaying this info to my dad. I was very excited about the opportunity. He looks at me and asks, are you sure you want to leave your family and friends, move half way across the country, knowing no one, when you’ve just had the biggest upheaval in your life? I didn’t make the move. He was right. I needed some continuity in my life. I later met my current husband and have never been happier. The other event happened when I decided to leave a company I loved, but didn’t so much love the job. It was a company that allowed me to travel a lot, at a greatly reduced rate, had a sales staff that I adored, but the job was keeping me away, more and more, from my husband. People would ask me, what do you do for a living? I’d tell them and they’d always say, that must be so much fun! You must get to travel a lot. Yes and yes. But which is more important -the job or the time with the husband? The time with the husband won out. At first I was euphoric. Then I began to have an identity crisis. So much of my identity was tied to this great company. I went through at least 6 months of something akin to depression. I hadn’t planned very well for this “early” retirement. If you read my blog on “retirement and husbands”, it really is the same way for women.
What brings me to all of this reminiscing? An article in the Wall Street Journal about loss…loss of a job, loss of a spouse (divorcing, in my opinion, is similar to a death of a spouse) etc. In the article experts say that most people should give themselves a good two years to recover from an emotional trauma. I know it took me that long to get over my divorce and I was the one who wanted it. If you are blindsided by the event-your spouse leaving abruptly or getting fired unexpectedly, it can take longer. You may become depressed, anxious, and distracted-in other words, an emotional mess. Experts say that it doesn’t help to hurry the process or deny its existence, say, by moving across country or starting a new relationship. As the therapist Dr. Gourguechon says, “The whole sweep of your life has to be reassessed and rewoven.” I can attest to that as well as attest to the fact that counseling does help. Counseling can help you set a path that will structure your life so that you can get through this period. It can also help you understand, in the event of a divorce, what happened. The Dr. says that you shouldn’t make any permanent changes, if you can help it, such as moving to another city and certainly don’t start a new relationship. Recover and rebuild are the two key words to think about during this period. Recovery from grief and the restructuring of your life.
I wrote a blog a few years back on, “if there’s a fork in the road, take it.” Sometimes you’re forced to take the fork in the road. A “fork” you don’t want to take and would never take, if you had your druthers. Just keep in mind that when that fork abruptly rears its head, it will you take time to adjust to that new direction in life… to recover and rebuild.