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Why is the first year the hardest?

Many years ago, when I was not yet in my 20s, I moved out of my parent’s home and in with my boyfriend. In my youthful arrogance, I thought I had met the love of my life and that we would live happily ever after.

The first year

Major life events require emotional adjustment time

Well, not even 6 months into our new life together, I found myself confiding in his mother. I explained to her that I didn’t think that our relationship was going to work out. Her advice to me was simple, tough it out a little longer and it will get better. “The first year is the hardest,” she said to me.

Back then, I didn’t really understand what that meant. I thought the first anniversary was some magical date when her son would stop being an ass-hat and we would suddenly co-exist in harmony.

Now, some 20 years later, I still think about that saying and what it truly means.

“The first year is the hardest.”

The closing of the first year isn’t some magical time when things automatically take a turn for the better. Rather, it is an approximation of how long it takes for a person to adjust to a major life change.

I think about the birth of my children, especially my colicky daughter, and how those first months seemed so impossible. Yet, we made it. By the time her first birthday rolled around, we had a handle on things, a routine that kept us moving forward and as a family unit. It is still hard, but we have become better equipped to handle those daily struggles.

I think about the time after my father passed away. That first Christmas, birthday, and Thanksgiving without him at the table with us. Those were the hardest times. I still miss him terribly, but over time I learned to focus on my memories of him instead of his loss.

So, when somebody tells you that the first year is the hardest, what they are actually telling you is that, you will adjust to this new life. You will figure out a way to navigate your world. You will learn how to overcome the hurdles in front of you.

Sometimes, you will need to make changes in your life, breaking up with a toxic partner, moving to new home, or getting a new job. Other times, you will just have to tackle the day in front of you by focusing on getting through the next hour and then the hour after that.

Grant yourself the necessary time to adjust, to heal, to adapt, and to overcome. Accept that your emotional self requires healing time after a major change, the same way your physical self does after a major surgery.

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