Surviving Divorce: Letting go of anger and embracing forgiveness (forgiving isn’t always forgetting but some research suggests it helps!)
Going through a divorce can feel as though you and your life have been turned inside out. During this process, you will be in an adversarial posture which can bring out sides of your personality that you barely recognize. You may also find that the partner you once expected to spend your life with has become your greatest enemy. As the case proceeds, property, and debt will be divided, child placement and custody decisions will be reached, and then, after it’s over, you are left with a host of negative emotions which can seem to be fused to your very core. While it may seem impossible, this is the time to move toward letting go of your anger and embracing forgiveness.
Research has found that carrying anger not only prevents us from moving past our pain but places a burden on our physical and psychological health. In time, these negative emotions can result in numerous medical issues and illnesses. However, those who can attain forgiveness have been reported to reduced stress hormones, lower blood pressure, and stronger immune systems. Aside from these health benefits, forgiveness offers you psychological relief as you move toward the path of understanding, resolution, and closure.
Forgiveness is a word that can have several different meanings. For some, this term connotes denying painful emotions just to avoid conflict with the offending party. For others, it is something we are expected to grant to another person even when they are undeserving and unworthy of in order our own quality as a human being. Forgiveness does not mean ignoring past hurt, forgetting, overlooking unacceptable conduct, or denying or minimizing your own emotions. True forgiveness means finding a way to examine how we have been harmed, acknowledge what has occurred, and our own participation in it, and releasing the need for revenge. The goal of the process is to stop fixating on past wrongdoing so that we can be free of resentment. Achieving a state of forgiveness will not mean literally forgetting what has happened during your divorce, but it does mean being able to remember it without re-experiencing the trauma each time.
Often, the first place to begin being able to forgive is with ourselves. Even when your former partner committed acts which you feel were the reason for the marriage ending, you may still be carrying feelings which have to do with your own conduct in the relationship. Forgiveness, like love, is not something which can be forced. However, you can examine your feelings and decide if you are unknowingly holding resentment and anger which you have been directing at yourself. Once you have done this work, it makes it more possible to move toward forgiving your former partner in a way which allows you to be free of your anger.
Ultimately, the person who is most harmed by your continuing anger following divorce is you. While it is not a simple or uncomplicated task, committing to resolving and processing these emotions and reaching a space of forgiveness can mean having better physical health, lower stress, and an improved sense of well-being. Your physical and emotional well-being are worth the effort it takes to let go of the past and embrace forgiveness.
Attorney Karyn Youso understands the pain and anger that can come during divorce and can help you assess your situation, navigate Wisconsin divorce laws and find the assistance you need to move forward. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation.