DIVORCE
06/27/2013 12:34 am ET

After Divorce: Why It's OK To Be Angry At Your Ex

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By Cindy Holbrook for YourTango.com

When you feel you've been hurt or mistreated, it's common to get angry — and anger is unpleasant, to say the least. Anger following a breakup or divorce is natural... but is it healthy? Does anger toward your ex help you move forward, or does it hold you back? Turns out, it does both.

On the surface, it seems remaining angry with your ex is the right thing to do. After all, he hurt you. He said horrible things to and about you. He may have cheated, turned your family or friends against you or taken away your livelihood. You think, "I have every right to be angry," and you may be right.

In every divorce, there is bitterness, anger and sadness within both parties — even the partner who left. After all, a breakdown of a marriage does not happen overnight. The man or woman who has an affair does so because he or she has needs that are not being met. Often, these needs have nothing at all to do with sex.

A pattern of communication emerged in your marriage that manifests as an ugly dragon during the separation and divorce. You both know how to push the other person's buttons. He says something, knowing how you will respond. You react accordingly and the vicious cycle begins. Just know that you can and will heal. There really is life after divorce.

Here are four ways you benefit by remaining angry at your ex:

1. You receive attention. You tell your story to everyone who will listen. They are shocked and horrified by what your ex said or did. They may hug you and tell you that you deserve better. They encourage you. They validate your right to be angry by concurring that your ex is an uncaring, hateful spiteful person. This makes you feel like a good person — or at least a better person than your ex.

2. Anger punishes your ex. You may feel that holding onto your anger is justified because after all, if you let go of it, that would be like saying you approve of everything your ex did or said. You believe that holding onto your anger punishes your ex in some way.

3. Anger motivates you. Your anger may give you the fuel you need to fight back. It gives you the energy to get what you deserve or take back from your ex what you believe he took away from you.

4. Anger enables you to avoid pain. By remaining angry, you do not have to feel the pain, hurt or the rejection the death of your marriage has brought up. It is easier to remain angry than to feel the pain. In order to heal you need to feel the pain.

Here are four detriments of remaining angry at your ex:

1. Rage hurts. Occasional anger causes little or no harm. However, if you experience frequent, uncontrollable anger or suppressed rage, you are hurting yourself both physically and mentally. Uncontrollable anger is defined as frequent yelling, screaming, kicking, throwing things and intimidating others.

2. You get grumpy. Remaining angry can make you a negative and irritable person which may interfere with your current relationships with children, parents and siblings. You may find your friends are not calling you as often as they used to. Your co-workers may begin to run the other way when they see you coming.

3. Anger begets stress. Anger and hostility create stress in your mind and body. Stress throws your body off balance and begins to constrict parts of your body which, in turn, creates disease.

4. Anger kills. According to the National Institute of Health, many physical conditions can arise out of prolonged anger such as coronary heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, depression, headaches, eating disorders, digestion problems, diabetes, insomnia, skin problems and depression. Empower yourself by letting go.
Letting go of your anger is the best way to empower yourself and regain control of your life. You may be holding onto the anger so tightly you do not even realize how deep it is. You do not see your anger is destroying you and not hurting anyone else.

To let go of your anger, try these four steps:

1. Take responsibility for your own feelings. No one has the ability to make you feel a certain way. Accept what happened. Realize that every time you think of past pain you bring it into the present moment.

2. Count your blessings. Begin looking for everything you have to be grateful for in your life. It is interesting that the more you look for blessings, the more you will find.

3. Love yourself. Find things you enjoy doing. Pick out goals for yourself and get to work accomplishing them. Most of all, consider all the options you have from this moment forward. Find opportunities that help you to grow both mentally and spiritually.

4. Create love. Become the person you are meant to be by creating more love, health and happiness in your life.

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