A friend recently asked me if I have moved past the anger I had toward my husband, Dave. I vehemently blurted out “Yes! I’ve moved through that.” On the inside though, I was struggling with whether or not that was really true. I didn’t feel angry towards my husband at that moment. And I hadn’t felt angry at him for awhile. However, there some moments that I am still overwhelmed with anger. Here it is 18-months later and I still experience some serious, pissed off, “I hate you,” anger.
My friend’s question rattled around in my head for a few days because I couldn’t put my finger on why there was still a lingering scent of anger in the air. Was it obvious to everyone? Was it true I was still angry? Why am I STILL dealing with this . . .his crap, his problems, his sh*t? It takes so much energy and work to heal the pain, the trauma and the chaos he created for me and my kids. I guess maybe I haven’t let it go. That’s when it occurred t to me where my anger really hangs out.
I called my friend and asked, “Remember how you asked about my anger towards Dave?”
“Yes” he replied.
“Well I figured out that yes I still do have some anger but I keep it stored away very conveniently in a suitcase in a closet downstairs. “
“What do you mean?” he asked and I proceeded to explain my theory to him.
I realized that I don’t come from anger, meaning I don’t wake up in the morning thinking about how to get even, or how he messed up my life or even how selfish he seemed. I don’t walk through my day with him on my mind hashing and re-hashing what I could have done different or, more importantly, what he could have done differently. I don’t date with the intention of getting back at him or filling some hole he tore open in me and I never go to bed hating him, pondering why he even existed in the first place.
My anger is stored right next to my holiday decorations. It sits in a beat up old suitcase on the shelf next to the bucket of holiday decorations. Like the decorations, I know it’s there but I don’t pull it out unless I need it. I don’t take it to the grocery store, gym or out to dinner with me. I leave it home, snuggled between Easter baskets and Santa hats.
Once in a while, I want to -and NEED to -pull out that suitcase of anger. I’ve noticed I grab the suitcase of emotions when I need some extra motivation to keep myself going or when a little voice says “I’ll show you!” or when I share my story about how my husband suffered. My anger fuels me to support and help other people avoid some of the red flags and pain that I endured. I use the anger when I need to put my big-girl boots on when I really don’t want to. That energetic push of emotion and whirlwind of chaos catapults my strength to pull hard on those boot straps and stand tall, move forward and show the world I am ok. I’m not sure I want to let go ofALL of the anger. I don’t use my holiday decorations every day and I don’t use my anger everyday, all year long. There’s a time and a place for the decorations to be on display and my anger has its time and place as well.
I’ve learned there are lots of healthy ways to express my anger – like writing him letters (and burning or hiding them), hitting a punching bag, talking to my therapist, taking recovery classes etc. All of these- and more- allows me to release the anger so more love and compassion can enter. I don’t like feeling angry, but I sometimes it wants to be seen and heard and that’s ok. My feelings are very real and healthy anger is a part of life. My anger is not something I tap into everyday- not even every week or month. I don’t misplace it on others like yelling at bad drivers, screaming at my children or dumping my ‘stuff’ on my friends. My anger is just that – mine! And I like having it handy in the downstairs closet if I need it.
If you struggle with anger, please consider taking our Divorce Recovery Class. We address anger and how it can paralyze us with pain and keep us stuck. We show you how to release your anger so you can start moving forward to rebuild your life.