After about six months of separation between us, I sat down and penned an angry letter to my husband. All the anger and resentment I had inside me came out as blue ink on lined paper. All the silence and smiles of 18 years bubbled to the surface in a fury unrecognizable in me.
State of Affairs…
My ex told me I was a lying bitch. He told me I was selfish. He called me one evening while away with his buddies on a golf trip. I could hear all the male voices in the background blurring into a static of bitter mocking. I had become a joke. Even though I was friends with some of these men during my marriage, now I was merely another ex wife, code: Bitch.
Also, I was told by my sister, I had broken my promise to remain friends with my husband. In her eyes, it was my fault that we were no longer friends. My daughter also made her opinion known on the matter in stating that I had ‘broken my promise to be friends with dad’. The fact is, the friendship ended with the marriage, regardless of the children we shared. No one was more disappointed than I was about this failure.
Was it my fault?
“You’ve changed” They Said…
‘I don’t know you anymore’ my sister said. ‘You’ve changed’ she said.
‘Mom, you’re different’ my children stated.
When I asked them how, they said ‘You talk more’. After giving it much thought, I realized that because their father was so dominant in the household, I had become meek and that was how my children knew me. I explained to them, sometimes when you’re with a dominant personality, you fade into the background. You don’t get heard because you’re constantly being drowned out by the louder personality in a relationship.
Case in point, an acquaintance of mine had two dogs that were littermates as family pets. For years one dog dominated the other even trying to take his treats after he had eaten his own. When the dominant dog died it was only a matter of days before the quiet one came right out of his shell. He was more vocal and affectionate. While he was once nearly invisible, now his personality was able to shine through without being overshadowed. I was astounded to see the change. Now, it would seem people were astounded to see the changes in me. I just compared myself to a dog…I know, I’m not too proud.
The fact is I had to be stronger. I had to set boundaries. I had to maintain my household on my own terms with as much discipline, love and responsibility as I could muster. So, they were right. Divorce changed me.
I wasn’t taking anyone’s shit anymore.
Everyone’s unfavorable reaction to the divorce combined with the years of marital dissatisfaction had finally imploded in me. Where I had expected support, I was challenged and judged. Where I had expected mutual consideration I was being treated as a doormat.
So, I wrote a letter I would never send. My intention was to release this unrecognizable fury. Who had I become? Was I a bitch? Was I as horrible as they all said?
The truth is my anger was directed at my husband. I was furious for everything I thought he failed at, beginning with the blasé marriage proposal. The casual way in which he said ‘Maybe we should get married’ smacked of insincerity now that the marriage had indeed failed. I never had a romantic proposal story to tell friends or my children. I felt robbed. That was only the beginning. I can’t rehash here what my grievances were. Suffice it to say that I felt cheated and used.
Putting this all down on paper helped me not only vent but to pinpoint the issues. It also helped me to realize things were NOT all my fault. The finger pointing, blaming and judging were only ways for people to excuse their own behavior. I learned that my anger was not solely for my husband but directed at some of the people outside the marriage but very much inside our lives. I admitted, the lack of support and judgment really hurt me. Being blamed and judged by people you thought you could count on, is a true wake up call.
I felt an incredible sense of relief once the letter was finished and signed ‘Your Loving Ex Wife’. A few years later I found it, reread it and realized how far I had come. My anger although still brewing some days, had mostly dissipated. I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized that some of that anger was at my own self…
I was actually angry at myself for accepting the status quo and continuing to accept situations that were making me unhappy both during the marriage and after.
Now it was time to burn the letter. I crumpled it up in a ball, went out the back door to the cement patio. I lit the sucker on fire and threw it to the ground with a smile. Good bye I said to myself. It’s over.
The Take Away…
Anger is an essential part of the grieving process which is all inclusive with divorce. Learning how to deal with our anger in a healthy way can really help us get through the process with our sanity intact. There is no need to suppress it but at the same time we don’t want to explode on those we love. Writing a letter or in a journal allows us to set it free without risking those relationships (such as they are). Write a letter you’ll never send and you might be surprised at what and who you’re angry at.
How do you deal with anger? Did you ever write a letter with no intention of sending it? Did anyone accuse you of changing or breaking promises?
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