Protect Your Own Well Being. Part 3
Now, like I said, your emotions are probably all over the place right now. Speaking for myself, I experienced just about every extreme emotion in the book as I navigated through my own divorce. At times, anger seemed to nearly consume my entire being. Other times, depression took me to lows I had no idea I could sink to. Each time I thought I had reached the absolute emotional bottom, some new turn would take me to yet a lower point. Feelings of rejection threatened to strip me of my very will to live. For literally months on end, I struggled to sleep, fought to manage a smile at work and wondered why I should continue to go on. Believe me, there were days when I was literally hanging on by my fingernails. But I have something to explain to you here… Going through a divorce is like driving through a tunnel. When you enter into the mouth of the tunnel, your world closes down to a dark, cold, lonely place. The sun doesn’t shine where you are, you can’t see the end of the tunnel and it’s easy to think the sun will never shine on you again. I truly believe that with your attitude, you can determine the length of the tunnel.
The first thing you need to do is understand the emotions you are feeling. You’re going to have to allow yourself to feel them, but don’t get stuck in them. Let’s talk about some of these emotions individually, and see if there isn’t some things you can do to make them easier to handle. I’ll start with what I think is the most intense of them all, anger. Anger is a very intense emotion, which is why I think some people spend so much time walking around mad at something or other. Being angry at your ex-spouse will keep you as involved emotionally as you were when you first felt love for that person. Stay angry at this person whom you are divorcing and he/she will be as much a part of your emotional makeup as when you first loved him/her. The trouble with that is that this person doesn’t really belong in your emotions right now. If you’re going to get over this and find happiness with your new life and perhaps even with another person someday, you have got to get this person out of your emotional makeup as much as you possibly can. Being mad at that person will not get him/her out of your life. Being mad at this person will most likely not cause him/her any discomfort at all, yet all the while the anger will eat away at your emotional and physical well being like a cancer. Now please understand, I do understand that you will feel anger. I’m not saying you can’t get mad as hell at times at this person. What I’m saying is that you must not allow yourself to remain mad for a long period of time. I also truly believe that you are in control of how long you feel this anger. As soon as you decide that you’re not going to be angry any more, you’ll diminish the negative impact that this person is having on your life. I believe this is what forgiveness is about, it’s about making a choice to let the bad things just slide off your back. It’s about deciding that you are not going to choose to be angry at this person anymore.
Maybe part of this process of forgiving and letting go of the anger will be something you do outwardly towards this person, you may write a letter or have a conversation and actually tell your ex that you forgive him/her. It may simply be something you do internally, a decision you make with yourself that doesn’t necessarily need to be verbalized. If possible, I’d recommend that you do it in some fashion so that the other person knows and can benefit as well from the forgiveness. But mostly, I want you to promise yourself that you’re not going to go through the rest of your life carrying around a full load of anger towards your ex-spouse.
I’ll tell you how it went for me. I was mad as hell at my ex. Her actions created a situation that has been financially and emotionally devastating for me. I am now a part-time Dad who misses tucking his kids into bed every night. The things I wanted out of our relationship are now being shared with other men. I had a million things that I could find to be mad at her about. I felt as if I had a large backpack on, and each time I got mad at something else, it was as if I took a brick that represented that new “thing” and tossed it into the backpack. Every step I took through my life was weighed down by the pack. My emotions couldn’t be lifted and I couldn’t climb out of the depths of depression because the backpack had become so heavy that it controlled most of the way I went through each day. I knew I couldn’t get involved emotionally with anyone else because all my emotional energy was used up staying mad at her. For a while, I felt as if she was in control of my life because she kept doing things that made me mad.
One day, I had one of those moments of clarity. I suddenly realized that she was not doing anything at all with the intent of making me mad. She was living her life, moving on, not including me in her emotional day, and yet here I was walking around with this huge load on my shoulders, imagining that she was doing everything she could to make me miserable. I realized that it was ME who was CHOOSING to carry this load of anger. It was ME who was CHOOSING to stay mad. She wasn’t controlling me at all, I was doing this to myself! After all, when it comes right down to it, no person other than yourself truly has the ability to control your emotions. Sure, someone else can contribute to your anger, but only you truly decides what will anger you and what you will choose to let pass. I realized that I was doing this to myself, that I was choosing to carry this heavy load of anger around, and that I could also choose to set the load down and walk away from it. And that’s what I did. I decided that I was no longer going to be angry at her. I decided that I was not going to focus on and hold on to negative emotions. And in my mind’s eye, I dropped that pack by the side of the trail and walked away from it. No more than ten steps down the trail my life was already on the way to becoming more positive. I had more emotional AND physical energy. I didn’t have to force myself to smile or laugh. I started feeling normal again, I felt in control of my own destiny, and there, just ahead of me, the light started to show at the end of the tunnel.