I’m a nerd. I openly admit it. Given my nerd-status, I was elated when, last month, I found a few different series of self-help-style cassettes at a yard sale for 50 cents a piece. One of the titles was Controlling Your Anger and it was a presentation by Dr. Carol Tavris.
Early in the first cassette, Dr. Tavris explained the different kinds of “angry” people she has observes throughout her career. One such type was the “tiger”. Tigers exhibit uncontrolled rage and have the ability to cause destruction to those around them. Tigers believe that their outrageous actions should be forgiven without apology because “anger” is justification enough to break social contracts. Tigers are scary.
Divorce/separation and its outcomes can bring out the tiger in us all. When our world has been shattered, when we can’t envision a future, when we question the past… that’s when we are most unstable and at times explosive. It’s during these spans of uncertainty that we rage against that which we cannot control. And it feels good. Our anger makes us powerful because it initiates a reaction from those around us. And whether they cower in fear or meet us toe-to-toe for battle, we feel empowered. Broken dishes and burned beds leave evidence of accomplishment. And such a high can temporarily mute the feeling of impotence that is so often part of the grieving process.
But… is it worth it? When I think of anger I am reminded of Mother Nature’s fury. And while we marvel from afar at the awe-inspiring energy of a hurricane or the brute force of a tornado, what do they leave in their wake? Broken (literally) homes, scarred and scared children and estranged family members. In fact, amidst the destruction there is greater uncertainty and therefore additional cause for panic.
For some, it becomes a recurring habit to combat uncertainty with rage. Thus, recovery from the initial destruction is impossible. Others recognize the unhealthy cycle and seek more effective methods of emotional management.
I believe that part of a healthy divorce process involves taking inventory of one’s feelings and examining their accompanying trends (such trends might apply to your ex’s behavior as well). Hating and hurting do not equal healing. Sometimes a new perspective and/or tactic is necessary to rebuild and recover.