Even "reality TV" can't alter the normal stages all women go through during divorce.
OK, I admit it. I actually missed my train one morning because I got sucked into watching an episode of The Real Housewives of New York while getting ready for work.
I'd never really watched it before that day, and I've always kind of rolled my eyes at all the drama. But, for some reason, this particular morning, I found myself fascinated by a conversation between cast members Bettheny Frankel and Sonja Morgan. It went a little something like this:
Sonja: "When you first get divorced, sometimes you just need to get pounded. Sometimes you just want to go and get sh*tfaced, and you have to do it!"
Bethenny, in agreement: "Sometimes you want to get pounded and sometimes you want to get sh*tfaced, and sometimes they are on the same night!"
Wait, what? Did Sonja say, "Divorced?" (Yes, this is what caught my attention.)
As I continued to watch, I realized that several of the women in the show are on the divorce continuum. From a divorce coach perspective, this interests me, so of course I had to keep watching.
Sonja is partying night after night; Bethenny is crying at the drop of a hat; Ramona Singer is vacillating between pretending she's fine and being heartbroken about her husband's adultery … and all the other girls seem shocked (and perhaps even dismayed) at the unpredictable, unstable, and seemingly irresponsible behavior of their friends.
They hype this up for TV, right? "Real" women don't behave that way during divorce, right? ... Oh, but actually — they do!
Throughout the series, I've seen what many consider"ridiculous behavior" unfold on the show. But, honestly — what I'm seeing isn't ridiculous or crazy, it is the normal behavior most women exhibit while going through the phases of divorce recovery.
In my work, I help women understand that going through a divorce is a journey of sorts. There is a beginning, a middle, and thankfully, an end.
Depending on where you are on the journey, you experience a range of emotions and behaviors. You may not recognize yourself sometimes, but that's because you're changing. I have literally been there, done that … so have my clients, and now I'm seeing it play out on RHONY.
So, if you're going through divorce, here are the four normal stages you're likely to go through. And it's OK if you experience them all. It's OK to be "real" about how challenging it is to move on.
1. Girl gone wild
There's a lot of talk about Sonja becoming an alcoholic … is she abusing alcohol? Possibly. Is she an alcoholic? Only the future will tell. But, she's definitely using alcohol as an escape.
This is very typical of someone mired in an ugly divorce. Ask anyone who's been through it if they didn't hit the bars just a little too often during that time. It's natural to want to find an escape from your thoughts — from the relentless stress that is divorce. Is it the healthiest route? No. But it's an understandable one.
Sonja is also reaping her sexual oats. She doesn't hesitate to lock lips with any young, hot thing that pays attention to her. She's feeling powerful, beautiful, and as if she's finally coming into her own. At this stage things tend to get a little sloppy (hence, Ramona telling her she's "slobbering all over everyone") but she won't stay this way forever. I have no doubts, Sonja will even out.
2. Putting on a brave face
Ramona, the most recent to announce her divorce, is ping-ponging around a little bit. She is attempting to take the high road and not bash her ex, openly stating that she's in pain and that she is sad. She says she doesn't want any more negativity in her life but on a dime, picks a fight with one of the other girls. She seems a little "boy crazy," flirting her way around the dining room. Yet, She's getting a fresh taste of the single life and the male attention feels nice. At the same time, she's fragile and it's very new, so she's trying to protect herself.
3. Swearing off men and marriage
Bethenny is in the thick of an ugly custody and settlement battle. This is exhausting and it shows. She told Andy Cohen in an interview on What Happens Live, "I will never get legally married again. I will never, EVER be legally married again." This too, is natural. Anytime someone attempts to talk to her about what's going on, she turns into a puddle. Her world is upside down and she's trying to make sense of it. She said on The Ellen Show at one point, "After my divorce I thought, maybe I will become a lesbian!" Seem a little extreme? It's not, I had that thought and so have lots of other divorcing women.
4. Finally, standing happily on your own two feet
LuAnn de Lesseps, on the other hand, who divorced in 2009, is at the end of her divorce journey. How do I know? Because, in a recent episode she exclaimed, "I'm powerful on my own, I don't need a man, anymore. I've always needed a man but you know what? Now, I'm good." More power to ya, LuAnn!
The day that I got sucked into watching this show, I didn't see The Real Housewives — I saw real women.
It can't be fun to have your divorce televised. It's painful, raw, scary and now the world is watching them navigate through this messy, painful journey. Every woman struggles to exhibit her best self throughout a divorce, and these women have to try to hold it together under a very public microscope.
All I can say is, this, they WILL get through this journey. Hopefully, they each have a good support system to prevent them from taking too many detours or falling off the map completely. Divorce changes a person. It's a difficult process, one that forces you to reinvent yourself — whether you want to or not. But in my experience, from the dark depths of divorce, a new woman emerges who is stronger, wiser, and happy (after regaining control of her life) at the end of this long road.
SAS for Women™ is a comprehensive divorce information, education and support center. "Women are turning to Liza Caldwell and her partner Kimberly Mishkin – two of the top divorce advisors in New York City — a new breed of advisers, who guide them through the journey every step of the way."- Porter Magazine, Summer 2015. Connect with SAS for 6 free months of coaching via your inbox.