Anger as part of the healing process
Anger is a natural stage so embrace it and experience it, within limits. Have you heard of the five stages of grief? Another fancy name for it is the Kübler-Ross model. Essentially it is the five emotional stages that one goes through when there is a death or an impending death. The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Since the end of a serious relationship, especially a marriage, is like the death of the other person (as they are gone)– death of the relationship, hopes, dreams, plans and more– professionals have used this model to understand and address the emotions after and during a separation or divorce. Woo hoo! A free pass to be angry and do stuff! Not exactly.
There is a lot of misplaced rage and envy. “Why me,” “it’s not fair,” and “(insert) is to blame.” Anger should be experienced so as to release pent up emotion, evaluate the anger and the cause in order to heal, and there are many other benefits of experiencing anger. I learned that anger tells you when your boundaries are being crossed, even if you are not aware of the boundary crossing at the time. So embrace the dark side, but in a positive and not deranged way. Since many people are not exceptionally rational or in control of their emotions at the time of their split or divorce, you need to be aware of the anger and its dangers. If you are starting to get too angry, speak to a person that cares about you or, if necessary, speak to a professional. This is where the “angry friend” is a great help. Someone who has been treated likewise or is just angry at every thing and the world. Such a friend will lament with you, listen, agree and curse the world.
Male or female – it does not seem to matter. Usually the person that ends the divorce seems angrier. I have no studies or scientific data on this, it just appears to be the case from my own observations. It kind of makes sense in that if you end the relationship, you are angry and presumably unhappy. That said, once the relationship is over and the dust settles you would expect these people to be happier, wouldn’t you? I am not sure if this is the case. Many times ongoing issues involving children or finances seem to cause the wound to fester.
While both genders are generally angry, there seems to be that there are some that are dangerous. Men seem to be more dangerous to their ex and children physically and women more dangerous psychologically, especially to their children. How many times have we seen in the news or heard about men attempting or harming their ex or their children? Thank goodness not very much, but too much to not be concerned. Now women have become more physically violent, but not to the same extent (yet). How many times have we seen mothers who act to vent or punish the father but do so through the children, who are neither able to deal with this nor should they have to. Sometimes mothers take on a victim role so completely that she needs to convince her children to reject their father. Then some people, regardless of gender, just want to win (regardless of motive). In these and other circumstances the anger is out of control.
Both parties really need help to address the issues for the person out of control and to know how to deal with the issues for the person who is out of control with angry behavior. Further and utmost importance is your and your children’s physical safety and wellbeing psychologically. Again, the children did not ask that you marry or the divorce and the effects of such behaviour on them needs to be considered by all.
Angry at Myself
Looking back I really missed clues, signs and neon signs. Also we blame ourselves for how we could have done better with ourselves, the marriage, the children, the lawn, the laundry, to the most minute thing. It is good to evaluate oneself in order to understand and better oneself. Women are better at self evaluating and addressing these issues. Sometimes however this can lead to lower self esteem and thoughts of should have, could have, would have that are not realistic. I think men need to do self evaluate more to improve, if not avoid, their behavior that lead to the demise of the relationship.
Angry With My Ex
Angry with my ex, I will not dwell on this as everyone has their own feelings and reasons. Like many I am angry about the effect on the children, deceit, money, divorce, loss of dreams, and more. But what surprised me most is the similar anger over wasted time and emotion that many men and women share. I can tell you this was one of the biggest issues for me.
The Dark Side Of Anger
Anger can be quite beneficial. What? In the short term it provides motivation, energy, focus, sense of empowerment, allows one to vent the unfairness, and not get walked on during divorce. It can also cause one to avoid depression, whereas stuffing anger can lead to depression.
Not angry enough? I thought I was not angry enough and I was told I was not angry enough. Once I discovered things having occurred before and throughout the marriage, including infidelity, deceit, addiction, financial ruin, the effect on the children, and I was starting over from scratch in my mid forties, I thought I should have been wacky angry, but I was not. I was relieved for many reasons and grateful to have a chance to have a better and true life. While I did not think I was angry enough and many people said the same, some friends said the anger was there but buried and sarcastic. Okay so my support system set me straight. That said I did bury some anger and this was not healthy. I was concerned it would bubble up and be out of control. In retrospect I should have been concerned about depression, as this is a common outcome of burying anger.
Anger can, however, lead down a slippery slope. It can be seductive and its empowerment can be addictive. When it outlives its usefulness or becomes overpowering, it can lead to negative health issues, cause envy (which in itself has dangers), affect relationships, hurt the children, jade and desensitize one’s outlook and emotions. It can also cause mental health issues or act to cover for another emotion that never is addressed properly (such as pain or fear). Anger can also isolate, cause not to socialize, and waste energy.
The crazy moment of anger seems to be an event that many people have. I have heard a man I know say that he just destroyed a cereal box for no reason and out of pure anger. I have heard a woman say she had a moment where she was glad she did not have a weapon and that a friend happened to be with her during her crazy moment of anger. It seems that this is a moment of pure all consuming anger and rage. I have not experienced it but I have heard it is quite common and it seems it is a very dangerous time. I am not sure how to prepare for this but you need to be aware of it. Control of anger, awareness of the anger, determining the cause of the anger and recovery from anger is the final step even though there may be moments or events in the future that cause anger. Women control anger somewhat differently. They tend to have coping mechanisms that include writing, art, talking to friends or counselors and yoga. Men tend to go to the gym more, watch or play sports and vent at poor innocent linebackers, and drink with the boys. In the end, whatever works that is minimally negative and preferably positive seems like a good idea.
I think it is important that men discuss and evaluate the situation more than they generally do. There needs to be an analysis of the cause and effect for understanding, healing and avoiding similar situations in the future. Women need to get less caught up in evaluating where they eventually believe all men are evil if they want to heal and have a good relationship later. Some things that worked for me: praying, staying around happy and positive people, laughing and smiling, yelling in the shower, reading every text I could on cause and effects of divorce on myself, my children and my ex (so I knew what expect from her), counseling (even though as a guy I was originally convinced this was hocus pocus), hugging the kids and thinking this is mostly about them and they need to be considered in all decisions, gratitude, planning for the future, a new appreciate for Buddhist morals and thought process (not the religion) and the maxim “one sane parent can make a difference.”
In the end is the anger gone? I think for the most part, it has. It may bubble or rear its head when a matter involving the children comes up. I keep reading about forgiveness of self. I do not live or dwell on the anger. Why would I want to waste more time and emotion on a person I have already wasted time and emotion on? That is insane. Neither do I forgive. I simply accept (in a Buddhist manner) like how I accept the weather. Instead of being angry or forgiving I proceed on the Jewish concept and tradition of “you are dead to me.” Since divorce is like a death, it seems logical to me to have this approach.