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Forgiveness and getting rid of anger

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  • Forgiveness and getting rid of anger

    Hi everyone,

    Let me preface this question by saying that I know a lot of people on this board would like to be in my shoes - divorce finalized; custody and property division and everything all signed off by a judge; not completely ruined financially; no huge inequities in the way things were divided; and currently in a strong and healthy (post-divorce) relationship. I know that I'm lucky.

    However, I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions about how to practice forgiveness when you're going to be dealing with the ex for at least ten more years. We have a young daughter and shared custody, so there's going to be contact around birthday parties, swimming lessons, holidays, winter gear, etc. for a long time to come.

    I find that I have trouble setting aside all the anger I still feel towards him whenever I have to communicate about something to do with parenting. For the last year, as the divorce wound its way through the courts, I was on the receiving end of insults, rants, verbal abuse, name-calling and explosions of hostility via email and text, on an almost-daily basis (with some variation, as he got distracted by other things). I recognize much of this as the sort of enmeshment and lack of boundaries that other people have described here. My end of the conversation stayed polite and to-the-point - no "you" statements; nothing I wouldn't want to hear read out in court, always with a "please" or "thank you"; conscious to keep the emotion out. It was almost like he had a second personality that came out when we separated - the person I've had to deal with over the last couple of years is utterly different from the one I was married to for 20 years before that.

    I had hoped when we began this process that we might somehow manage to stay friends; now not only do I know we won't ever be friends, I have no desire to ever be anything more than minimally polite.

    So my question - does anyone have any suggestions for calming down the waves of anger that arise whenever I have to deal with him? He's being (somewhat) civil now, probably because the divorce is a done deal. I feel like a hypocrite being polite and making small talk with him because of the vicious things he's said to and about me in the past, but I know that I have to suck it up and treat him like someone he isn't, because it's in the best interests of my daughter to put my own hurt and angry feelings aside. To anyone who is or has been in my shoes, any suggestions for self-talk or other ways to reduce the emotional burn that still hits whenever I have to deal with him?

  • #2
    Just breathe... Always think of yourself as the better person and a great example to your daughter. Despite all the garbage that was said to you or about you, get your satisfaction from your ex still seeing you happy, head up and that you moved on with your life in a positive and better way. Don't let him bring you down.

    Divorce definitely brings out the worst in people and you will hear all sorts of lies come your way. Accept it for what it is, be thankful that it's over, and get your satisfaction knowing you're in a better place now and no longer have to listen to the nonsense.


    • #3
      I think that modelling the behaviour you'd like to emulate is a very good way to look at it.

      Kids do pick up on even very subtle queues. Be the person you want your daughter to be.

      And of course, if you stay in your anger, you really do not have the opportunity to move on and if you so chose find real happiness with someone else.

      My ex recently turned that corner and now we can work together on issues around our kids.

      And realize that you cannot change what has already happened, you can only influence what is happening now and in your future.


      • #4
        To achieve forgiveness during and after separation and can be very hard. It takes time, sometimes a lot of time, and it depends a lot upon the degree of harm done and people involved.

        To forgive doesn't mean that you try to excuse that person...that what that person did was right. It does mean that you choose to not hold a grudge against this person, and get on with your life. It means not to let the corrosive poison of bitterness eat away at you.

        Anger is good if you recognize it as normal, and use it to energize yourself to constructive actions. Don't deny the anger, but also don't let it became a raging, destructive force within you, like taking your anger out on others.

        Forgiveness is something you do for yourself.


        • #5
          OP: yes, you have much to be thankful for. I didn't and haven't "landed" so well. I'd very much like to lose anger but forgive? I already know that I will never ever forgive. It's just my nature. Always has been.

          But I'm open to "dumping anger" suggestions, although it's a personal journey for different people.

          I wouldn't throw water on my ex if he was on fire, lol - is that anger or inability to forgive?

          My hope is to move towards complete indifference. I don't talk to my ex and I never will. Best that way. Our son understands. He's used to it. At this point, he'd likely be stressed if we WERE in communication with one another.

          Best of luck. I think you're on a good path. File the old hurts and stupid things that were said in the 'history' file. And if you can forgive.. Good on you. Some people can, in time.


          • #6
            It's hard, if not downright impossible, to forgive someone who isn't sorry and still behaves the same way. The fault lies with him, not you. Don't think of failure to forgive as a problem with you. Aim for accepting his behaviour as something you cannot change, and learning to shrug it off as his problem, not yours.

            Just keep contact to the bare minimum when you have to discuss your child, and ignore him otherwise. It will get easier with practice.


            • #7
              @Rioe: oh I've got a lot of practice ignoring him. I'm very good at it

              We don't discuss our child. He doesn't contact S14. At all. It will be a year soon, of zero contact between them. For me and ex: it's been several years. I'm at peace with my inability to forgive. It's just the way I am in extreme circumstances.


              • #8
                I haven't had any contact with the email, phone calls, nothing. This was my choice. The severe physical abuse is what sticks in my mind more than the emotional and verbal. After I left him, he slandered me with lies, wrote letters to various organizations and my son stating I was not at all well in mind and body.

                I haven't completely forgiven him. It's perfectly normal to feel anger and unforgiveness towards someone who has wronged you and does not want to change. I doubt my stbx will ever change. He certainly did not want to when we were together. I guess I've developed a bit of detachment towards him and that helps. But I still get flashbacks of the physical abuse.

                I am definitely not looking forward to seeing him at the case conference. It's been almost 18 months since I have laid eyes on him (except when we passed each other in our cars a year ago...a scary and surreal experience to say the least)!


                • #9
                  My ex and I were divorced within 9 months of when I filed. For several years, however, I have had to endure being taken back to court repeatedly. It has been highly contentious and very, very bitter at times. His g/f is a nut case and I have had to put up with years of nonsense.

                  My advice to you for coping is to remember the good times the two of you had together. Have as little contact as possible so that you can get on with creating your new life. Its difficult but I think if you try to stay on a positive, forward-thinking direction the negative aspects of your past together just might be lessened with memories of happier times.

                  This has been my primary coping strategy since our initial separation.

                  Avoid unnecessary contact. Replace bad thoughts with good memories. Visualize a happy future.


                  • #10
                    I can understand bitterness when abuse is involved.

                    I won't forget what my ex did, but I can chose to giver her the benefit of the doubt that it was her mental illness not her nature that made her behave that way. In the end, it doesn't matter what the real cause was, since that is in the past.

                    My oldest son was recently in the hospital for an extended stay. My ex and I were in close contact, text and phone, for a couple of weeks. There were times when we both visited my son at the same time. I even gave her rides home (she doesn't drive). We aren't friends, but we aren't enemies, we are two people with a shared history, who once cared for each other. I'm not suggesting that every relationship can work out that way. I know if it weren't for the kids, I would have zero contact with her.

                    But really if you allow yourself to remain in the state where the other person affects your life, you are giving that person way too much power over you.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by oink View Post
                      @DD....hopefully you charged her for that drive home?

                      Just saying
                      What an incredible way to ramp up conflict.


                      • #12
                        When there are issues with my son's health, anything that will lessen any potential conflict and keep the lines of communication open is a good thing. Of course I wouldn't charge her for a ride home.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DowntroddenDad View Post
                          When there are issues with my son's health, anything that will lessen any potential conflict and keep the lines of communication open is a good thing. Of course I wouldn't charge her for a ride home.
                          And that indicates you are a "Dad", not downtrodden. You are a good human being DD. Keep doing what you are doing for the kids.


                          • #14
                            Personally, I ignore my ex and have very little trouble doing so. He showed up at my mom's hospital room during her last days and during her funeral and I literally ignored him completely. Pretty much the same thing I actually did during tell you the truth because I find his personality-type irritating. During marriage, the rare times I'd have to be around him...I'd move to a different location, speak to someone else and pretty much stay away from him.

                            However, I honestly can't say that I hate him. I'm well aware that he has done nothing but insult me for years and has tried every trick in the book to ruin my new life...both financially and as a mother...however, I'm so content with my new life and generally so busy that I just really don't care.

                            My loathing of him pretty much ended the day I moved into my own home after the in-home separation. My negative feelings were really centered around feeling trapped and stalked.

                            Also, my ex is an annoying co-parent but I just work around him most of the time. He provides endless validation of exactly why I divorced him everytime he does something annoying or rude. I love the validation....not a week goes by that I don't thank my lucky stars that I'm divorcing him. Imagine that there are countries in the world where women have no rights and have to stay married to terrible men.

                            My happy in your new life. Accept your own failings and culpabilities of the marriage you left and know that without that experience, you wouldn't be where you are today in your new life. You might not realize that you learned things and grew in a bad marriage...but bad experiences is where we actually tend to grow the most. Be thankful to him for showing you what you DON'T want to be around so that you can achieve happiness.

                            Mostly, feel some empathy. My ex isn't a happy, good person and he's not really capable of emotional growth...and he's probably going to spend the rest of his life in that mode.

                            I'm so grateful that I won't have to spend anymore real time around that type of individual...its easy for me to just let go of any feelings of resentment I have towards him. Be validated, be happy, and ignore's too short to spend energy on the unworthy.


                            • #15
                              IMO ignoring is not a solution. It takes energy to ignore someone and does not model good behaviour.

                              I read something early in my separation that said children of divorce have an expectation to manage their divorced parents when the parents are together.

                              The children become the go-between the parents. They make sure the parents interaction is limited.

                              It is one child's graduation and you have agreed to have lunch with the child to celebrate. Other parent will celebrate at dinner.

                              You are now at the ceremony, each parent sitting apart from each other. How do the other siblings decide who to sit with?

                              It is now after the ceremony, everyone wants pictures with the graduate. Child has to go between each group to satisfy each parent.

                              Now one of the parents says something has come up and there needs to be a change in plans they can't do lunch/dinner, and need to switch.

                              Children have to go back and forth between parents and rearrange.

                              It would be so much less stressful on all involved if the two parents could sit and have lunch together at the same time with the graduate.


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