I used to tell everyone everything about my first marriage. Well, no, that’s not true.
I told my parents next to nothing.
I told my close friends random, different tidbits.
I told strangers WAY TOO MUCH.
And the more I work with women, the more I realize that this is a phenomenon among women in difficult marriages and those who are divorcing. Someone I spoke to recently even referred to herself as a professional over-sharer.
And I get it, I really do. We are so emotionally starving from our relational needs not being met within our marriages or from being on our own after being in a relationship for a long time, and yet we are so scared of being found out that we can tend to talk the ear off any stranger who comes our way who can’t do a darn thing about our situation. We get a temporary buzz but not a real fix.
So, if this is you…if you find yourself sharing inappropriate things with inappropriate people on a regular basis, I have a few loving suggestions.
Go deeper with God.
Here’s what I know about God. He knows everything about us and loves us completely. If you’re not already a journaler, I want to suggest you try it out. Once a day, write down everything that is on your heart and in your mind and get it out of you, as if you’re writing a letter to God, as if he’s sitting right next to you on the couch listening (because he is). Go to God first. Give him every detail, every secret, every heartbreak.
Get in counseling.
I have been in and out of counseling since I was a sophomore in college. There is nothing like laying out the pieces of your life in front of someone who doesn’t live with you or know you in your daily life. There is a freedom to that. And there is an objectivity to that. I know it can be costly, but most either accept insurance or have some type of sliding scale and will work with you.
Join a small group Bible study or recovery group.
Years of being in one Bible study small group after another helped me work on my listening skills and honed my empathy and compassion for others, teaching me to serve others and not always think about my problems. And AlAnon, Celebrate Recovery and DivorceCare all helped me figure out my life and helped me become more sane.
Pray for a good friend.
God never meant for us to live in isolation. We need each other. You need a friend (or two or three) and not just because you’re needy or you’re going through a hard time. You need friendship because we need to learn how to support others and lift our gazes off of ourselves.
Find a mentor or sponsor. I’ve talked about my mentor often but I need to reiterate that God used her to carry me through in ways I may never know. She is still in my life and one of my first go-to’s when I’m faced with something overwhelming. It’s beyond helpful to have a woman farther along in the journey than you are to gently guide you in yours.
And if you keep coming back to there’s just no one in my life who would fit this description, I would be honored to walk alongside you with a phone call or a months-long journey. Let’s start here.
Listen, I know how lonely you are. I would never discount that. I was YOU. Being either in a hard marriage or going through a divorce or being a single mom can be very lonely life seasons. But I want wholeness for you in all of your relationships. You can begin to build healthy relationships in every other area of your life or build upon what you already have. No one person can be your all-in-all, and true authenticity is built on appropriate sharing and only comes with time and trust, something a stranger cannot offer you.
If this post resonated with you, my collections of essays, Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage, or Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage will help you go deeper with your healing.
Elisabeth, I recently had a Christian personality profile done as based on the four fundamental temperaments, and my one temperament is sanguine. This is a personality that is social and part of my profile says that I am “an open book”. I tend to over-share as well, but I am wondering if this is more the way that I am designed rather than a flaw which needs to be corrected? I understand that over-sharing is destructive if I am continuing to bash my ex, or allowing bitterness to rule my life and continue to pour out poison. But in some cases, I think the ability to connect with others and to be honest about our problems is a gift. We can allow someone else to see that we are “real” and that our lives are less than perfect, and that we are still staying faithful and letting God work in our pain.
Wow, you nailed it again! This was me. I did most of the things gs you said here and, thankfully, I have moved forward.
And you have moved forward! Yes!