Anger is a prime result of a divorce. The feeling of being wronged and going through emotional hell can be at the forefront of your everyday life. Trust me, I know, I was there almost 10 years ago. My ex pulled the divorce card and I didn't even see it coming. I was thrust into the rabbit hole of despair, anger, and hopelessness. But, my hardest emotion to tackle was anger. Angry at her. How dare she divorce me, how dare she put me in one of the most devastating episodes in my life, and how dare she take our family of 18 years and tear it apart! I was mad as hell.
During the divorce process, that anger clouded my judgment and almost ruled my life. I made mad decisions, I thought mad. I treated my kids differently and I went to work with a chip on my shoulder. I was not a nice person. Instead of making a competent and informed decision, my thought process was how can I hurt others as I feel hurt in coming to my decision. I was out of control and a hot mess.
Controlling the Anger: Tip 1 - Realize You Are Angry
Discuss with yourself and others that you are actually angry. Be able to know that there is an elephant in the room before you address it. You can't fix a problem if you don't know the problem doesn't exist. Probably at this point you've been mad so long that in fact in your life is part of your new normal. Short with people, losing friends, and being an all-around asshole shows up here. Another clue could be that people are staying away from you. They are keeping the conversations light, quick and surfacy on the phone with you. Maybe the kids might not want to visit you as much. You might be the last one picked for 5 on 5 and you used to be one of the first. Always thinking in the negative can be a result of anger. Being a male Debbie Downer has to be exhausting!
Controlling the Anger: Tip 2 - Realize It Is a Negative and Prevents Healing
Once you have the knowledge you are angry, you have to realize that it is a problem. Knowing you're angry and not caring about it is definitely not a place you want to be. You will never try to get it fixed and move on to a better place. Anger is tied to so many other emotions. It's almost like a trunk of the tree and other emotions either arise from it are connected to it some way. For example, my favorite Divorce Devil Podcast subject is forgiveness. There is no way in hell you're going to forgive if you're still angry at someone or the process. That will probably be my next post - Forgiveness! My friends and staff, were instrumental in showing me some of the dumb-ass things I did as a result of my anger and how that affected those around me.
Controlling the Anger: Tip 3 - Lean Into the Anger
When I say lean into the anger, take that negative energy, and use it for good. After you know you're angry and it's a bad thing, take all that anger energy and direct it someplace else. Exercising - work out all that negative energy. Create a new goal - start a new project around the house. Listen to music - dig back into your younger day and blast the music you listened to and dance around the house/apartment. Get plenty of sleep - you've probably are not getting much sleep thinking about the thing that angers you. Embrace positive thoughts - grab onto those thoughts that make you happy. Start to enjoy your newfound reality. Join a divorce recovery group - That's how I got a hold of my anger. It was a church-based divorce recovery group. It did me wonders. Meditation - there are lots of apps, free and paid, that teach meditation. Understand and accept - that your divorce can be and maybe has been the most devastating event in your life. When you factor out the 'why', you can start to move on. Focusing on the why can put you into a vortex that can go on and on. You may never know the why, and you will have to accept that. I have a friend that got a sticky note on his kitchen table one night that his wife wanted a divorce. 5 years later, he still has no clue why she wanted one and has relegated himself to letting the why go. Don't be afraid to ask for help. A pastor, friend, or even professional therapy can be instrumental in figuring out your source of and ways to combat your anger issues. I leaned into my anger and flipped the scrip cleaning and straightening the garage, cleaning the house, and organizing my daily life. Took all that negative energy and switched it for good in my life.
Controlling the Anger: Tip 4 - Create a New Routine Within Your New Reality
If you are busy with new routines, the chance for anger is less. Trust me, the anger never goes completely away. The other half you were living with is now gone. By their own hand or by yours, that doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that you move on with your new reality. Visualizing yourself in the positive makes you move on easier. Accept that it is not easy but it is not impossible and millions of others have come out the other side before you. You control the anger and don't let it control you. Plan trips ahead of time but still keep those spur-of-the-moment destinations in the back of your mind. Those can turn out pretty good too. I rode the hell out of my mountain and road bikes every week setting new destinations every week.
Controlling the Anger: Tip 5 - The Anger Will Raise Its Ugly Head Again - Accept It
Triggers allow that to happen. Eating at your favorite bar, seeing an old movie on Netflix, walking in a city park, hearing from an old friend - some of the things you did or places you went can set off anger. Once again realize it, accept it and move on. It is normal for those old emotions to come up. But over time, they will come up less and less. 10 years later they still sometimes haunt me. Just recently my grown kiddos had me change the meetup time for Thanksgiving because of their mom’s dinner time. At first, it set me off and I had to process through it and let it go. It was almost like someone had control of me from the grave no matter how small. Tip 5 can be real and in your face. Just don't wreck it, Ralph! This too soon shall pass.
Just realize, these 5 tips are just a few ways to combat anger. Your journey is long and worth it. Lean into friends, family, and other divorce recovery methods to get that emotion behind you and move on to your better reality.