Harness Your Anger to Persevere
Your feelings can enable you to make needed changes if you pay attention to them.
Anger is a sign that something is very wrong and needs correction. Use your anger to give you the courage and determination to stand up for yourself in a constructive manner. I am not talking about taking reactive, vindictive, or retaliatory actions. Those types of responses could be dangerous for you if your husband is a violent person. Rather, your anger can be a catalyst for you to take appropriate actions to protect and defend yourself and your children.
It is empowering to feel your feelings and then calmly make a decision as to how you are going to respond to them.
You make better decisions when you realize that you have a choice of how you are going to react or even whether you will react at all. Embrace all of your feelings, as they inform you if you are truly paying attention. When your emotions flare up, take several deep belly breaths so that you do not react in haste. Remember that feelings are not permanent. It is not necessary, or even advisable, for you to react immediately every time you are provoked.
Take your time to process thoughts and emotions so that you make the appropriate decision for that particular circumstance.
Disengage with your abuser to deescalate the situation and minimize the damage he tries to inflict. Positive actions you may decide to take include: documenting the abuse, making copies of financial statements and other evidence, setting an appointment with a therapist, practicing self-care, making the decision to completely cut off contact with your abuser, and hiring an attorney to end your marriage.
Although you know that you need to make changes, you may feel paralyzed by fear. You may be very afraid of your husband and want to leave him, but also be afraid of the prospect of getting a divorce and then being alone, paying the bills on your own, and facing the uncertainty of your future.
Deep down you already know what you need to do. But you will need to summon up some courage to do it. Being brave doesn’t mean that you are not afraid. It means that you know you are strong enough to feel your fear and still do what you need to do.
It wasn’t until after the divorce was final that I realized I had some very deep fears to deal with if I was ever going to be happy. I felt broken, unlovable, and afraid of my loneliness. I had felt lonely while married, but now I was a divorced woman in her mid-fifties who was overweight from having eaten my way through a bad marriage and divorce. What I had feared most all my life was being alone, and that fear is exactly what it was time to face. I finally realized that I had already been alone for a very, very long time.
In time, you will need to forgive him and move on to be truly happy, but that effort needs to take place well after the divorce process is final or else you might inadvertently allow your husband to continue to abuse you or to take advantage of you in the divorce settlement at great cost to you and your children.
Before forgiveness must come the appropriate use of your anger.
Right now, you will have to put your armor on and fight for yourself, because your husband is going to come after you now with everything he’s got—ruthlessly, vindictively, and relentlessly. He is likely to escalate the abuse once he realizes that he is no longer in control.
Protect yourself by giving yourself permission to become and remain angry for a good long while. You are going to need your righteous anger to propel you forward to act.
Anger is not a dirty word. It is a message from your body that you need to stand up for yourself. It is time for you to value your own well-being, opinion, and feelings more than those of others. It is not selfish to value yourself; it is necessary for self-preservation.
Don’t let your husband continue to brainwash you into thinking that you and your needs don’t matter. You matter only if you decide that you matter. Now is not the time for you to be nice or to cave in to his demands. Your first obligation is to protect your children and yourself, not to worry about his feelings. He certainly hasn’t worried about yours. Channel your healthy, justifiable anger into productive action and use its energy to move forward in a new direction.
It is important to allow yourself to experience your negative feelings, to feel sad and angry. I am not talking about wallowing in self-pity indefinitely, but fully feeling and then releasing your emotions in a healthy way. Otherwise, they will eventually fester and turn into depression or physical disease.
Emotions are energy in motion and the detrimental ones must be released so that they don’t become toxic to the physical body.
Anger that remains unexpressed or that is dealt with ineffectively can frequently turn inward and transform into depression, bitterness, and eventual illness. Yes, you have good reason to be angry—infuriated by your husband for his atrocious behavior and outraged at the situation that you find yourself in. You also need to manage your emotions so that they don’t make you sick.
I took up boxing during my divorce, releasing my anger by using visualization. I imagined seeing my husband’s face on the punching bag. I hit it as hard as I could many times and released a lot of anger that way. Maybe tennis or some other sport would work better for you. Hit, kick, or throw something in a safe, healthy outlet to release the build up of negative energy from your body.
If your anger issues have become unresolved and chronic, you may feel anxiety, muscle tension and pain, nausea, heart palpitations, tightness in the chest, tingling, problems with concentration and memory, and fatigue. Your immune system may become compromised, and you will be at heightened risk for stroke, high blood pressure, colds and flu, gastrointestinal problems, coronary heart disease, heart attacks, chronic sleep disorders, and serious memory loss.
You may repress your anger and feel hopelessness or depressed. Or you suppress the feelings in your body and just feel numb and detached. You may resort to drugs, alcohol, overeating, or some other compulsive behavior, such as excessive spending or gambling, to try to help you suppress your feelings.
It may be necessary for you to find a psychiatrist to get medication to help you deal with some of these symptoms. Before you consent to take any medication, ask about the side effects and whether the drug is addictive. Be sure always to follow dosage instructions and contact your doctor immediately if you experience side effects or find yourself craving more medication than was prescribed. You also need a therapist to guide you on how to deal with the root causes of your anger and teach you how to process your feelings in a healthy manner and set appropriate boundaries with others. See my articles, “Therapy for Stress and Healing” and “Manage the Stress of Abuse and Divorce.”
The whole point of going through a divorce is to be happy and at peace with yourself. Use your healthy anger in productive ways to help you get through this difficult situation.
Staying angry after the anger has served its purpose is not good for your physical or mental health.
You will eventually have to forgive to set yourself free.
Forgiveness does not mean tolerating abuse or forgetting the lessons you learned. You will remain tied to your abuser energetically and the negative emotions of living in the past - if you don’t forgive and release him and yourself at the appropriate time.
Breaking Bonds is dedicated to your specific needs as an abused woman, and we offer free holistic support as well as practical guidance to help you through this difficult time. Download the free 11 STEP PREP Guide here to get started, grab a copy of Breaking Bonds: How To Divorce and Abuser & Heal, and check out our full list of resources for complete support during the process of your divorce. We are with you.
Rosemary Lombardy is a financial advisor with over 35 years of experience, and the founder of Breaking Bonds, a comprehensive resource platform for abused women. Although her professional expertise is in financial matters, her perspective on marital abuse, divorce, and recovery is deeply heartfelt and holistic. She draws on decades of personal experience, as well as the experiences of others, to help inform abused spouses so that they will become empowered to leave their abusers and begin to heal.
Rosemary Lombardy's new book, Breaking Bonds: How to Divorce an Abuser and Heal - A Survival Guide is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere that sells books.