I've been divorced for almost 12 years now and still can't get over the anger of 21 years of putting up with a man. I've read that we must grieve our ending marriage. Is this possible? I know it's affected other relationships through the 12 years. -- S.
You're not alone. Most people have unresolved grief left-over from past relationships.
This emotional baggage becomes an invisible drain to your self-esteem. No matter what people do to build your self-esteem, the invisible drain of abandonment, buried deep within, is always working to siphon it away.
Unresolved anger and hurt work beneath the surface, interfering in ourfuture relationships and blocking us from reaching our potential.
Grief over divorce is different from bereavement because the closure isincomplete.
Our ex is still alive, meaning that often we have continued contactwith him, causing our old wounds re-open.
Society doesn't honor loss when it comes to divorce. We don't getflowers or sympathy cards from our acquaintances. There's no funeralwhere everyone gives us love and support. Silently and in isolation, wego through just as much profound loss and upheaval as a widow.
Having to keep this grief to ourselves causes our hurt, anger, loss,guilt and self-blame to incubate.
These deeply burried feelings must be brought to a conscious levelwhere you can work them through. You need to write them out in ajournal and/or talk them out to a good friend (someone who will listenwithout giving advice) or therapist.
There's such a thing as post-trauma from a divorce. This is nothing tobe afraid of -- we all have it to some extent if we've been through apainful separation. Signs of post-trauma include insecurity, anger, lowself-worth. What to do about this?
Get those feelings out in the open. Have them validated by trustedpeople in your life. Open yourself to new, enriching, enlighteningideas and activities to promote positive change and replenish youremotional reserves.
I hope you can honor your woundedness from your divorce enough to takeextra good care of yourself in your present life.
Susan Anderson is the author of The Journey fromAbandonment to Healing (Berkley, 2000) and owner of AbandonmentRecovery.com.