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Baggage Check


Baggage Check: Newly divorced and happy at 28

By Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Q: I’m a newly divorced woman at 28, with no children. I married too young to a man who wasn’t ready to be a husband and probably never would be. I’m quite happy with my new direction in life. But everyone’s treating me like I need to be fixed. My relatives are always pitying me, acting like this is a time of mourning for me. Honestly, the divorce was a long time coming and I am happier now. Why can’t people get that? And how can I show them that without being rude?

Smiles and a change of conversation go a long way. “I appreciate your concern. But you might be surprised to know I’m actually feeling better than I have in a long time. How about you?”

Saying this like a broken record will help highlight the fact that their worries are misplaced and at the very least will halt that line of conversation.

And let your actions speak for themselves – moving on with your life, showing people that you have new interests and new activities, will eventually help them stop seeing you as a “newly divorced woman.”

Q: I’m so angry all the time. I have a good life and many things to be thankful for. But I’m constantly annoyed and feel rage at things. Last weekend, I got into a shoving match with another woman at a bar. I was so ashamed of my actions I almost couldn’t believe I’d done it. I know you’ll say to seek therapy, but I want some idea of how bad off I am and what I’m getting myself into.

Trust me: What you’re getting yourself into is much better than where you’ve already been. You’re otherwise on a very scary path here, especially if drinking is involved. You don’t say how long this has been going on, but my guess is that this is a combination of physiological and psychological factors – like depression or anxiety – and inadequate ways to cope.

It’s OK and normal to be scared of therapy. Still, it’s the best way out of a situation like this. It might take a few months; it might take a year. But you’ll learn the automatic, unconscious thoughts that are causing your emotions to sour and your behavior to follow. And you’ll develop much better, healthier ways of recognizing those triggers and coping with them.

Andrea Bonior is a clinical psychologist and the author of “The Friendship Fix.”
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