Friday, January 23, 2015

Anger: an important part of the healing process

One of my favorite readers, Curtis, just submitted a new guest post for my column on Divorced Moms. It offers an interesting and important perspective on one of my "favorite" emotions: anger. While no one ought to stay mired in anger, it is an important part of the healing process, whether one is coping with divorce, cancer or pretty much anything challenging in life. And boy oh boy, have I had my share of anger. Sometimes, though I feel I've "healed" as much as possible, I still feel surges of anger at times. Perfectly normal, and it's ok. For example, this past week I've been angry over how I feel. I have been battling a horrific cold and experienced such extreme fatigue that I just wanted to wimper. I would feel far more anger if I had the energy. Last Friday, I probably slept 20 hours. Saturday, probably 18 hours and I wanted to sleep far more. I had a great day on Sunday, but then Monday rolled around and it was MLK and my children were home. Instead of going skiing like we planned, I stayed on the couch sleeping until 2pm when I dragged our behinds out of the house, picked up William and we went to see Selma. It was a terrific movie. And when it was over, I went right back to bed.

I was angry that I am tired and fatigued. I am tired of planning every activity with the thought in the back of my mind: how will I be feeling? And then I remind myself that I am alive, I have amazing family, two children that are healthy and amazing, and I am in love with a man who treats me so incredibly well. I am surrounded by peace, kindness, love and stability. And when one knows what unstable looks like and has lived with psychological and verbal abuse at the hands of an alcoholic, trust me, the comparison is stark and lovely. To escape horror and find beauty is amazing and until you've lived it and escaped and found something better, you have no idea. So, yes, anger is important. It helps us leave terrible situations, it helps us learn, and, yes, heal. That powerful emotion, anger. It's not always such a bad thing. No, not at all.

So without further ado, enjoy Curtis' musings on Anger. Here goes!

The Upside Of Anger. A Guy's Perspective On Using Anger To Heal
by Lizzy Smith and guest writer Curtis                    
January 23, 2015
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Fotolia_58472347_XS.jpgAnger 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 K├╝bler-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.

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