Okay. The divorce is final; you’re no longer married. As you peer across the divorce battlefield and survey the damage done, you assess what’s left of your financial, physical and emotional states.
- Financially: Maybe you’re broke. You have attorney fees and credit card bills to pay. The bank accounts are depleted; you’ve moved back in with your family. So you slowly rebuild (and it IS a slow process). Eventually the bills are paid; you and the kids move into a new place. You’re even contributing to your IRA again.
- Physically: You’ve forgotten what a good night’s sleep feels like; you’ve either stopped exercising altogether and gained weight, or you look like a child’s stick figure drawing due to the stress. So you get back to the gym, pay attention to your diet, try that tai chi class you’ve been looking at.
- Emotionally: Whew! What a rollercoaster ride it’s been. There’s a lot of stuff to untangle; it’s going to take some work. You’ve joined a support group or found a good therapist. You’re on your way to feeling like a functioning member of society again. BUT you keep stubbing your toe on something; it just won’t get out of your way: How do you forgive your spouse? How do you unload that burden of anger, hate, resentment, vengeance -- whatever you call your particular brand?
And it IS a burden. It takes a lot of time and energy to be pissed off at someone all the time. And it never goes away; it’s a demanding mistress. Anger may serve a purpose for a while, but eventually carrying that heavy load will strain the muscles of your psyche. It may require some mental wrestling, but there will come a time when you know it’s time to let it go. So how do you actually do that?
Here are a couple of good articles that address just that. Rosalind Sedacca, CCT, author of Should You Forgive After Your Divorce? 6 Steps to Releasing the Past for Moving Past Divorce, writes that there is power in forgiveness and reminds us that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you condone the actions of your spouse; it means that you are letting yourself off the hook by moving past the anger. Ms. Sedacca also reminds us to examine and forgive ourselves for the part we played in the divorce. (Remember, except in the most extreme divorces, both players have contributed to the breakdown of a marriage.)
Kent Sayre, in his article Practicing Forgiveness, writes,
“Forgive them…for yourself. Yes my dear reader, you can forgive someone else for selfish purposes! What you’re doing when you’re forgiving them is that you’re saying that you’re no longer willing to spend your valuable time, energy and resources thinking about them and dwelling on them and what they did against you.”
Part and parcel of most divorces is the anger directed at the other spouse. That anger fuels action and may be necessary at first, prompting you to move forward with the divorce process. Eventually that anger outlives its usefulness and serves only as an unhealthy reminder of the past. Releasing that burden allows you to dust yourself off and begin to rebuild your spirit, body and bank account.