Congratulations! You are in the relationship that you always dreamed of whether you are married or just committed to the person of your dreams. You may have just found out you were pregnant or just had a baby and are on cloud 9 looking at this new little blessing God has given to you. Whichever it is, your life is changing and its exciting right? Or is it?
I know you once dreamed of all of this. The marriage/relationship, the children, the home, the job; it’s everything you prayed for. So why do you feel like something is missing? There is a part of you that is still dissatisfied. Church folk will tell you it’s a lack of contentment; that you are not grateful for the place that you are in, or what God has blessed you with. Your friends will say it’s just you needing to adjust to your new life, that you are just overwhelmed. Trese says, you are mourning and its ok!
Yes, sis, you are mourning! Having to care for someone or constantly consider someone else’s feeling other than your own is a sort of death, a death to self. As you do when you mourn the loss of a loved one, you also go through those same stages when you feel like you are losing the most important person to you, yourself. The 5 stages of grief are Denial & Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. Let’s discuss each
You refuse to believe that your life has changed in such a way that you can no longer come and go as you please without checking in or considering someone else’s schedule. If you are newly married, you still want to hang out with the girls until 2 to 3 am in the morning, and you can… a partner doesn’t change that. However, out of respect you do need to mention it and let your partner know. I know I know, that sounds like submission huh? Something you WOULD NEVER do. It’s not submitting it’s being considerate. When you once never had to consult with anyone about your comings and goings, it’s respectful to let your partner know if you are going out of town with the girls or won’t be coming home until 2 am.
Instead of capitulating to that, to almost “asking permission” (even though that’s not what I’M saying AT ALL) you’d rather just pass on that invite out and act like you are so in love and you want to spend every waking moment with your partner. Denial sis. You want to go out but you don’t want to accept that “going out” looks different now. Planning has to take place, checking in is a respectful thing to do. Nope, you won’t do it. Isolation is better. You’ll just smother your partner to death instead of “checking in”. Instead of being forced to consider someone else’s opinion or feelings.
If you’re a new mom I think this phase is even WORSE for you. You want to believe that you can still be the same cool, on the go woman you always were. That you can stay out all night and get up with the baby in 2 hrs. to feed/nurse. Shopping or get your nails done with the baby in tow because that’s what you’ve always done and the baby is not going to slow you down. You. Can. Do. It. All.
Girl… stop. DENIAL. You need help, and that’s OK. Again, planning has to take place for certain things or an insane amount of preparation. The throw-on-something-and-head-out-the-door days are over, at least for now. It’s OK, I promise you.
…a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.
You find yourself angry at the rain, the air conditioning, and the clothes that used to fit that no longer fit. You’re angry at your spouse for seemingly being able to come and go as they please with little regard to what you have going on or how you are feeling. That’s all completely rational and realistic right?!
Partly. Yes, because you are just on the other side of denial you realize that YOUR life has changed. But we sometimes mistake how our life has changed as a direct correlation to the reason our life has changed. Let me break it down further. I now have to plan to leave the house because I have to ensure my child has someone to look after her, I am now angry at the situation. Angry at my partner, angry at the fact that I have to plan, angry that I am tired. Just angry. This phase is tricky and if you don’t manage it carefully can turn into resentment which can have catastrophic consequences to your relationship and/or your ability to bond with your child/children. Proceed with caution in this phase, recognize the misdirected path of your anger and correct, quickly.
This one is sometimes hard to recognize. Unlike with mourning the loss of someone and you are asking God to take you instead of them, or if they are dying… negotiating with God by agreeing to sacrifice something you have or want in order to save your loved one; bargaining when mourning your single self is a bit different.
Sometimes you ARE bargaining with God, especially if you are a mother. “God, if you just let this child sleep through the night tonight, I promise to lead Bible study in church on Tuesday” or “God, if my husband can just KNOW that I need time away and book me a trip with my girlfriends I’ll never fake a headache again” Most times, though, you find yourself bargaining with yourself; attempting to give yourself the grace you don’t believe wholeheartedly you deserve.
You will tell yourself that if you go hard as a spouse or mom for 7 days that the next week you will be able to have 2 days of “me time”. You tell yourself that if you can just make a schedule and stick to it, that you will be able to handle each new day with more patience and acceptance. That you will be able to carve out some time for just you if you can devise a plan and stick to it for the week, meal prep, child care, tutoring… whatever.
Bargaining is our way of negotiating a way to keep our single self, with a twist if you will. Good luck!
I think many of us kind of skirt through the other phases until we get here. Depression is the most common stage that many women find themselves in. I think part of it is because it’s the one that is discussed the most in the medical community and the one that society says is “treatable”.
Feeling depressed about no longer being “single” sounds crazy right? No at all. There are so many women who scroll through social media envious and resentful at their friends that either have no children, are wealthy enough for full time help, have active and consistently present fathers (because let me be clear, just because someone is married doesn’t mean their spouse is helpful with the children or household to-dos without prompting) or their children are at an age where they can “live” a little. Comparing who we used to be to where we find ourselves now is the exact recipe to becoming depressed.
Many will say life doesn’t have to change after getting married but life will continue to happen and as life happens to the both of you. Therefore, how each of you responds to it will be something the other will have to deal with. Thinking about just you is no longer a luxury. I laugh as I type becoming a mother doesn’t change you. If you are a good mother, it changes the very essence of who you are. Are you driving too fast? Is this place too crowded for your child? Will they catch Ebola from touching a shopping cart? Things you would have NEVER thought about before having a child. Depression is real and if you feel like you are having an exceptionally hard time coping with life, please get help immediately!
Congratulations, you’ve realized that your life has changed and THAT’S OK! So what you are no longer able to get away really quick without arranging child care or mentioning it to your partner. It’s ok that the weekly girls’ nights are down to every other week or once a month, at least for a little while as your child adjusts and gets acclimated to life. All of this is ok because this new normal is hopefully one that you’ve wanted and if it isn’t, it’s one that you can change. You are in control, sis, and you can create the life you want; it just may not look like the one you had in your mind 10 years ago or even last year.
Self-care is a great idea and you will see people on IG make it seem like 1 day a month is the easiest thing in the world to do, but if you have little to no help with the kids, working 2-3 jobs and or starting your own business; 1 day a month may not be reasonable now. Take 3 hrs. or 1 hr. and just focus solely on you. Don’t allow someone make you feel bad about the time you take for you no matter how short in length it may seem to them. Protect YOU! It’s impossible to pour something of substance from an empty cup!
Cheers to the new life you’ve created, make it a good one!
Love & Light,
Mommi Trese, Unapologetically