“The Good Identity Crisis: It Lasts Two Years, No Shortcuts” — read a headline in The Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago, written by columnist Elizabeth Bernstein.
Bernstein covers education, philanthropy, psychology and religion — all areas that involve personal relationships. This particular column was about how long it takes someone to move through a crisis.
Bernstein talked to several experts and was told most people should give themselves a good two years to recover from an emotional trauma and — if they were blindsided by the event, such as a sudden death, a spouse leaving unexpectedly or being fired from their job — it could take longer.
Following an emotional upheaval, it is common to feel like you are going crazy, awash in emotions that at times are overwhelming. It can be helpful to understand it is normal to feel depressed, anxious and distracted, and it is common to have good days followed by difficult ones. But for two years?
Generation is used
to ‘quick fixes'
If the experts are correct, this may be discouraging to you and to people around you because we are a generation that likes “quick fixes.” You've heard the phrases: “Time heals all wounds.” “Quit complaining — others have been through this and survived, and so will you.” “It could have been worse.” Or, as the popular song composed in 1936 by Jerome Kern says, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.”
While many are in a hurry to move the process along, it doesn't pay to rush it because it is not just about recovery, it is also about rebuilding.
Learning to rebuild
First is the grieving of one's loss and gradually moving from the way it was to the way it is now.
Second, and what can be even more time consuming, is the process of restructuring your life and finding your “new normal.”
Don't waste a crisis. Learn from it. Make it useful.
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.