Can't let go of the pain and anger

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    I am currently going through a divorce. After 17 years of marriage and 2 children my husband informed me that he doesn’t want to be married anymore. I did not expect that – feel like such a cliche (the wife who never saw it coming) – and have struggled for several months to accept what is happening. My heart is just broken. I can’t get past the rejection, that he doesn’t love me anymore. And when I’m not crying I am raging because I am so angry that he would do this. I want to accept it because I can’t change it. Part of me knows that I would not have wanted him to stay with me out of obligation rather than love. I want to accept it because to not accept it is unbearable – it’s nothing more than desperately wanting something you can never have. The anger pops out when I don’t expect it. I know that it’s not productive. I know I have to work with him to make this process as painless as possible for our kids. But sometimes I literally hate him and just want to hurt him like he has hurt me. I thought I was a better person than that so it’s kind of disappointing to find that I could feel that way. I would appreciate any advice on how I can start letting go of all that is negative and start moving on with my life. My thoughts and emotions are totally dominated by the pain and the anger and I need that to stop. How do I start getting control? How do I make peace with a situation I didn’t ask for, never anticipated, was decided entirely by someone else, and that I cannot ever change? Thank you for any help you can give.

    Joanna Warwick

    Hi Lisa,
    I’m sorry for your hurt, but firstly I must say that anger and tears are all natural processes of grief and it has nothing to do with being better person or not.
    Grief is an opportunity to grow and we must accept it all forms. The intensity will happen because you keep trying to brush it away and BE STRONG! .
    it is better to accept and let it flow.
    You have a family so it is best to hold it together when around your children and then release it all out everyday giving yourself 30-1 hour a day alone to rant, beat up your bed, sob until snot pours out of your nose and let go..and then get back control and get on with your day.
    You will then start to heal. We cannot get to peace and acceptance without walking the rocky road of grief – there is no bypass. It is your lesson to learn that you don’t have to be perfect or be strong and not have feelings. Learn to be real.
    You are not in control of life or other people and this is the feeling which is probably causing you the most pain.
    I would make a guess that you are usually a good girl – in control, organised and in charge and so learning to let go is your life lesson.
    Please head over to my site as I work with women and you may find what I have to say really hits the nail on the head for you? http://www.rediscoverthemagic.com

    Jo Warwick ~ MBACP – Accred


    Thank you, Jo, for your kind words and understanding. I do understand on a rational level that the grief and anger are a natural part of this process – I just can’t seem to translate that into action on my part. I am completely overwhelmed by my emotions in a way that I did not expect and for far longer than I would have imagined. You are right, I do try to ‘stop’ it in some ways largely because I am afraid of what would happen if I didn’t. I might never stop crying or I might lash out in a way that would be hurtful and make me ashamed later.

    Exacerbating this is the dynamic between my soon-to-be-ex and myself: during the last 2 years a pattern developed where he expressed hurt and anger and disappointment and even disgust towards me at the same time he told me that he wanted to work things out (we were in couples therapy for 18 months until our therapist literally threw up her hands and said she couldn’t help us because he was unwilling to change anything or to compromise in any way). So I became silent about my feelings, believing that his were more valid, more important and that the problems we had were in fact my fault. I conceded to him on everything and went out of my way to not upset him or disagree with him (because those things enraged him). Now he expects that and is aggressive and often bullying as we try to work out a physical separation and divorce. I am seeing a therapist myself to help me stop this pattern but it leaves me unsure of when I am appropriately standing up for myself versus when I am reacting purely out of anger and a desire to not give in to him.

    What a mess! No wonder I am often an emotional wreck. You are absolutely right that one of the biggest lessons for me here is to accept, accept, accept – because I cannot control everything. This situation is utterly beyond my ability to control or change and all I can do is work on my reaction to it.

    I will check out your site and again, thank you for the advice.



    I am coming out of a 13 year relationship and divorce myself. We were only married for two years when things spiraled out of control. There is no explanation for it really. I still can’t make sense of it. It’s a combination of things. I begged for counseling and my husband just wouldn’t make the time for it. Sometimes people are just afraid of facing their own issues and the best thing we can do is let them go. I loved my husband the day I divorced him and still do in a sense. I hope he is happy and finds what he needs in order to be so. Too often we become these other people because we sink in the hurt and identify with the “it’s not fair” story or the “I’m not good enough” story. All of that is not true. You do need to work through the feelings as they arise and acknowledge everything you feel but beware of attaching any story lines or beliefs about yourself to those feelings. First thing I did was be sure I was filling my days with things that made me happy in some way. Exercise, meditation, going out with friends (not drinking), etc… Having little things that support you and give you respite is important. Second give up this power play. Is it his or yours? By giving into the back and forth you give it life and meaning. It’s not worth it. Just do what you need to in order to get out healthy. Work on you and where your beliefs and stories about yourself originate. You may find a lot of it has nothing to do with him and he is just a trigger, perhaps.

    Your path is becoming different, it’s not damaged, nor are you. Things are changing, dramatically. Try to see everything through the lens of love and compassion. This is sooooo hard to do I know and I struggle with my own advice daily but I can tell you it works. And you don’t become a doormat or weak because you do so. It gives you immense strength to carve out your new way of being. People only do as best as they can with the tools and knowledge that they have at the time. Karma and other things come into play with a person’s growth and perhaps his just hasn’t blossomed yet. It has nothing to do with you other than you have shared a time in this world and have to move on for the better of you both.

    I can’t speak about the intricacies of having children but I can speak of being a child of divorce. My parents lived miserably together for years and didn’t divorce until I was in my 20’s. They tried to hide and make things easy, then they just got nasty. Children no matter how young deserve the truth, they will go through this in different times of their life redefining it and you just need to be there for them giving them the answers they need. Teaching them now how to move through change and pain will be a great lesson for them on their level that they are at. Treat them with love and compassion and they will feel safe. For me it was always about my safety growing up and what this meant to me. I still go through some hurtful emotions and it’s been two years. Don’t expect to “get over” anything. It just becomes a part of you. I am sure when I find my next relationship things will come up too that I will have to muddle through but I am better for it now by taking all of those steps above. I can see the connection and origination within myself and work on it.

    I read a lot of Buddhism to help me through it too. Unfettered mind is a podcast that really helped me too. Connect with the direction and life that you want to lead and do one thing everyday to reinforce that. It’s a accumulative effect and you will start to feel better and more in control. When you find yourself acting out of control ask yourself “is this who I want to be?” If the answer is no, take a step back, breath through it and take a different course. Don’t ignore anything you feel embrace it all. It’s a part of you now and you can use it to gain strength.

    Hope any of this helps. Surround yourself with your support group. I had a friend that I reserved for late night phone calls who kept me sane. We all need that.


    Hi Lisa,

    I am grateful for this post (obviously not at all grateful for your situation!) because it really spoke to me. I am dealing with a lot of emotions surrounding a relationship right now, and though it’s an incredibly unfortunate situation you’re dealing with, it’s somewhat comforting to know I am not alone with the rollercoaster of emotions.

    My situation is not nearly as severe, and I can’t imagine what you’re going through. Though I don’t have much useful advice, I can say that as hard as it is, you can’t take things personally. His actions are his own, and there is NOTHING wrong with you. Thubten Jamyang nailed it on the head by saying “People only do as best as they can with the tools and knowledge that they have at the time. Karma and other things come into play with a person’s growth and perhaps his just hasn’t blossomed yet.” I fully believe in that.

    I offer nothing else but well wishes, and the hope that you will stay strong. I am confident that in a year from now, you will be able to look back and pat yourself on the back with how far you’ve come.

    Best of luck 🙂

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