This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

When do you "get over it?"

After reading the wedding post, Michelle asks in her guest comment, "When is the right time to move on and get over it?" She wants her husband's ex to do that, so, I imagine, her life can be less angst-filled when her new family is around her spouse's former one (or at the least the former wife).

That's a tough question to answer because no one has the answer. It resides within the individual. No one can force you, me, an ex, or a current spouse to get over the hurt caused from a broken relationship. What makes it easier is contrition on the part of the abuser, the one who cheated, if that's what occured in the relationship prior to the break up. But if that doesn't happen authentically, or if you never get that, then it's really dependent on time.

Besides, the term "getting over it" can imply that one's feelings do not count. But they do. Everyone's on all sides of the equation. The challenge really is to be able to arrive at some level of understanding about the feelings of all parties involved. And that also takes time, patience, and the desire to move forward with one's own life.

I'm not sure if anyone ever "gets over" being hurt by someone who was supposed to have loved them wholely and unconditionally but didn't or couldn't.

In the end, we all must just work to do our own individual best. If an ex continues to be angry, that's not your call. And it's not even about you. It's about the ex deciding to hang onto a feeling that isn't productive for her or him without realizing it. It's most likely not a conscious choice but an imbedded one. A few counseling sessions could help overcome that. But again, that's not your call. It's great when everyone involved in, for example, a blended family all gets along and there are no hurt feelings pushing just below the surface of the required get-togethers, but my guess is that's really very rare.

In my own recent situation, I knew I just wanted to get through the days involved and let my daughter have the most wonderful wedding she could have, despite the angst everyone knew was out there. It was not the time to push any of that out in the open. And for me, there may never come that day. I may never get the contrituion I know I deserve. I've learned to accept that and be okay with it. It's not about me; it's about him, or her, or whomever.

That's what Michelle will have to do--accept that her husband's ex is angry, and that the ex will have to come to terms with that in her own time, that her anger is about her, not anyone else, not really. That's how the ex has chosen to deal. It might not be the healthiest choice, but it might just be the best she can do for now. Michelle will have to have patience and understanding that the ex may never "get over it," or when she does, it's not going to be on Michelle's timeframe.

For you, Michelle, and for others in a similar situation, time will be your friend, patience will be your lover, and understanding will be your life partner. You might try looking at it that way. Your objective, you see, is to put the perspective where it belongs--on your behavior. How do you behave when you're around the ex? Just be who you are. Don't try to be the ex wife's friend, don't try to be your husband's children's mother. Just be you. Determine who that is, and be okay with that. And understand that the ex may see you as the person who came between her and her husband, her family. Were you? Only you can answer that. But if you can come to some understanding and truth about how you wound up where you are, that might help you greatly. You might also benefit from a few counseling sessions. I'll always advocate that. I know it can work wonders.

In my view, the term, "getting over it" is really a poor one. I've been through divorce twice, death of a loved one many times, and so much else. I don't know that you ever "get over it." If you're smart and can get in touch with your spiritual side, you become aware of things you can do to move yourself past the pain and worry less about what others are doing. But the loss is always there. There will always be reminders. With time, the loss hurts less and less. With patience, you accept the fact that your feelings exist and will change. With understanding, you learn to love who you are where you are, no matter what, and you are more apt to do the same with and for others.

Keep in mind that we all deserve to feel what we feel. No one should get to determine for anyone else how long it takes to feel a feeling. So cry if this hurts you, and keep crying for as long as you need to, want to, or care to. Journal if you need to spill your guts. Let your husband know what you need from him to make sure you feel secure in your relationship. And take the time to respect that other people in your life have feelings about what's going on, too, especially if they feel forced about being where they are. That's often the case with divorces. Someone feels forced out, and you may not be aware of the unresolved issues. You only know the one side. And there's never just one side, not when two people are involved.

So to answer your question: when do you get over it? Three words: time, patience, understanding.

And while you're waiting or processing this, get on a bike. It'll help you ride out your own angst. That should make you feel better.

All my best,


Michelle said...

You are correct, to just "get over it" is a VERY unfair expectation. I think I may have stated it the wrong way. Unfortunately, when there are children involved, the hurt parent will have a huge impact on how the children will respond to the situation. They instinctively want to protect them. My mother did the same thing to me growing up and I disliked my stepmother until I was old enough to realize she was a genuinely, good person (It took me 26 years to know this). I missed out on getting to know her because I was protecting my mother and her feelings. What happened to my mother and father was between them, not us children. At any age, I believe it takes a toll.

I do not expect to be "buddies" with the ex, however, I do expect respect and general courtesy. A little goes a long way. It's the least we could do to teach our children.

Thank you for the advice. I look forward to reading more.

The BIKE Lady said...


I was also that stepmother, the one my stepchildren did not like--for very much the same reasons you state here. I wanted so much to make all things work out perfectly. I tried and tried and tried. But there were issues between the two original parents that I was not aware of. It created a rift that I did not have control over. There may be that in your case.

Eventually, I realized I had to stop trying so hard. I just had to focus on my behavior, not theirs. Once I stepped back and just let things be, the visits were less stressful. I really just had to wait it out. My marriage eventually ended, and maybe I could have predicted that, but there was so much baggage there that I wasn't aware of. We do not give enough respect to that "baggage," that's for sure.

But it will take conscious effort on your part to just be. I know that when I tried too hard, it never worked. You would think it would, but it didn't. I was pushing where I didn't belong.

I wanted my husband's ex to like me. I wanted her kids to like me. I wanted our kids to all get along. I just thought it could be that way. Why not? I was naive. There were far too many unresolved issues between the two of them that carried over in between the two of us, and it all trickled down to the children.

You are right. How the ex feels will definitely affect how the kids feel. It's the same on your husband's end. That's why therapists counsel the divorced to avoid sharing their negative feelings about the other parent with the children. It affects them in ways we cannot understand, and sometimes maybe we do. If that's the case, it's manipulative on our part. But we're human; we make mistakes. They can be corrected.

No matter how you slice it, if you're the new wife and there are children involved, you're in the way. You may not want to be, and you may not see it that way, but they do. It's natural for children to want their parents to be together, particularly when they are young. It's about security, and that's a natural need all people have.

That "baggage" that we bring into a relationship is one thing we do not really think through before we marry into a ready-made family. The best you might be able to expect is what happened with you and your stepmother. It happened with me also. My stepchildren--even though I am no longer married to their father--and I have a decent relationship now that they are adults. They were definitely at my daughter's wedding. And they supported me in the divorce from their father. They understood the pain. Any celebration I have at my home, they are invited to, and they attend. I'm very happy about that. It's the most I can expect. And it says a lot, I think. I let them know I'm here. And since I'm not mom, that's the best I can do. Then I let it go. It's a pleasure to get to see them, but I don't expect anything from them. I don't really think I have that right.

That's why I suggest that you put the work where it belongs--on you. Just work on what you can do to respect the time it takes for healing, find the patience to wait it out, and understand their issues are not about you.

And communicate your thoughts and feelings with your husband, and especially make sure he's communicating his with you.

It may be a tough ride, but it will be worth it--no matter what happens--if you put the focus on you and how you can do your best. Everything will find it's right place if you can do that.

Think of the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.