The Five Stages of Divorce Grieving – part 2: Anger is Progress

What’s your bird style? Mine was criticized as not aggressive enough, which pissed me off.

Welcome to my 2nd installment in my blog series, The Five Stages of Divorce Grieving, entitled “Anger is Progress.” This blog took a long time for me to conceptualize. I knew I had to address anger, but it’s complicated. So, like anyone uncomfortable with anything complicated, I avoided it. I made excuses not to discuss it. I procrastinated. There are a lot of other things I’d rather do than talk about anger, but watching paint dry loses it’s appeal after awhile. So, enough avoidance, let’s just do it. 

Anger is second on the list of stages of grieving. Following denial, anger is the emotion that we feel when we realize something horrible is happening and we want to fight it. It’s a natural revolt against the situation. We subconsciously think we can scare the damn monster away if we get pissed off enough. Anger is normal and it’s when channeled properly, it’s healthy. Anger, is progress in any transformation. 

Anger is also an emotion that when repressed is our biggest obstacle to transformation. Repressed anger becomes an obstacle because it masquerades as other personality traits and causes us to soothe ourselves or express it in self-destructive ways. For example, chronic sarcasm. Sarcasm can be funny. I love good sarcasm. But in excess or used in ways that hurt people, sarcasm can stem from repressed anger. The repressed anger lies dormant within us. In the divorce context, the shock and hurt of a divorce can breath new life into our repressed anger. Suddenly we’re doubly angry: angry with our situation and angry about our situation that has nothing to do with our actual divorce. For example, we can be angry at our spouse for a divorce and can become angry at our father or mother for a divorce from our childhood despite years of not realizing we were angry.

Anger is progress because it signals that our mind is finally ready to embrace the dissatisfaction of our experience. Once we embrace the dissatisfaction, we can ride the anger wave and allow ourselves to begin to heal from our wounds. If we channel it properly, we can alleviate the distress and restore our mental state to an optimal condition. 

There are many ways to channel anger in productive ways. We can journal, meditate, exercise, keep busy at a hobby while our minds work it out, read, and talk to anyone who will listen. Find anything that actually helps. I’ve punched pillows and screamed alone in my car with the windows up. What has never helped is drinking. Drinking alcohol or using drugs is the equivalent of inviting the anger to hide in your closet while it grows until it is large and ready to pounce on any unsuspecting person who happens to open the door. 

Let’s not hide anger, ok. Instead, let’s invite it to a non-alcoholic happy hour and get to know it better. Once we know our anger better, we can heal from it and not let it control us. The anger won’t hurt us if we approach it as an opportunity to learn. Anger is progress on the journey to self-actualization via the 5 stages of divorce grieving. 

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