Hey, so does this ever happen to you?
It may have been months since your divorce ended, and you thought you were doing okay.
You were picking yourself up financially, making your home your own, and trying some new activities and were feeling pretty good about yourself.
Delayed Anger After Divorce
But then it hits you and won’t leave.
That anger–that pure rage once you look back and realize just how awful your ex treated you.
The time you found the messages from another woman on his cell phone.
Or when you’d come home after a week-long work trip, only to find the house a complete mess and him sitting on the couch watching football.
Or when you’d go to the gym together, after a few comments he’d made about “you don’t look like you did when we met,” only to have him completely ignore you and pretend he doesn’t know you there.
The list could go on and on. Each memory making you see a deeper shade of red, wondering why you didn’t see the signs–why you didn’t leave.
And it’s that feeling of unfairness and injustice that can make you feel blind and keep you from moving on.
That’s called anger, my friends. And it’s appearing now because you’re getting stronger.
These feelings of rage are coming because you’re healing. You’re moving on from the divorce and you’re getting stronger. But during that process, the present, more confident you have a new set of eyes that are looking back on the past you.
The stronger, more confident you are bearing witness to all the disrespect and mistreatment the past you endured and she wants justice, dammit.
“But Martha, why now? I feel like this is completely derailing my recovery!”
Think of your recovery in a couple of steps. The first step was when you were getting mistreated by your spouse, but you may have blamed yourself or you may have normalized it, thinking it was somehow just how your marriage was.
The next step is where you are now: you realized that the marriage is no longer healthy for you, and you are either in the process of divorce, or you are finished with the divorce and are working hard to move on.
So, the anger gap is actually the delta between those two parts. It is you now realizing that:
- Getting treated like crap was NOT okay.
- You deserved better than getting treated like crap.
- You are now frustrated because you can’t go back in time to change the fact that you were treated like crap.
And it’s this frustration that you’re feeling now? That feeling is the Anger. The anger is directed in a couple of places:
- It’s at your ex because he treated you poorly.
- It’s at your ex because they will most likely not apologize and truly regret how they treated you.
- It’s at yourself because you’re now kicking yourself that you let it go on for so long.
- What a mess. It’s no wonder why you’re feeling stuck and not sure what to do.
But do you see the commonality with all these things?
They are all things you cannot control.
You can’t go back in time and get your ex to treat you better. He was a jerk who didn’t deserve you anyway. It’s as simple as that. No excuses.
You can’t “make” your ex apologize. You cannot “make” him suffer or feel bad for all the things he did. He’s most likely emotionally unavailable and him feeling bad and truly expressing his regret or sorrow ain’t gonna happen, sweetheart.
Trying to go back and dissect “what should I have done differently?” or blaming yourself for not standing up to your ex, or not realizing his toxic behavior only keeps you from moving on now.
So now what?
Redirect your anger to something productive and healing for you.
No, I don’t mean you have to pick a bunch of flowers in the meadow and make a vision board if you don’t want to.
Hell, I’m not even saying forgive him right now.
But what I am saying, friends is to channel that anger you feel into something that can help you move on with your life. I call this the PPF Model—short for Past Present Future.
Past: What lessons can I learn from this anger?
Present: What can I do NOW to turn this anger into something good?
Future: What will I do in the future to protect myself from this toxic BS?
It’s not easy to just “let go” of all the memories that are pissing you off right now. But you can’t let them keep you stuck in rut and unable to move on with your life. Right now, you have a choice. You can choose to stay stuck in a rut, paralyzed by a past you can’t change. Or you can learn from the past and let that anger remind you that you deserve better. And you’re the work it’s going to take to move on.