The day the anger came

Please read this special note for readers about perspective and word choice.

The other day a friend of mine who is going through a separation and divorce said, “I’m through the anger stage and now I’m just sad.” Without a beat I exclaimed, “Congratulations!”. It might seem a bit insensitive but not if you understood my viewpoint of anger. 

Here’s the thing with anger - it serves no one, but it is normal and necessary in the grieving process. Anger is a by-product of hurt. The hurt manifests as anger, which can manifest as resentment, revenge, etc, etc. Anger is a tough thing because while it is a completely real and necessary emotion, it doesn’t actually help you in the present moment and keeps you in the past. Especially for the person feeling the anger. It’s like a poison that eats away at you and while it is part of the healing process, it’s so important to be mindful not to linger too long in the anger.

Even though my marriage ended and I should have been angry -  I wasn’t. I kept saying this to my friends and was regarded with suspicion. They asked, “How was I not angry?” [I don’t know - I’m just not.]  “Was I so “woke” that I had just by-passed the anger phase?” [Ummmm..no, I don’t think so. I’m just not angry.]

I honestly didn’t know. I just knew that I didn’t feel anger towards my ex-spouse, even though I had plenty to be angry about. I tried to seem more human, “Yah, I was angry for a day or so when I found out about XYZ, but then I moved through it.” That was a half truth. I was angry for a day. But I didn’t move through it. I became numb. 

Numb from the pain and the hurt. Numb from the end of the dream of our life together. Numb from crying. Numb from lack of sleep. Numb from the inside out. I knew this was a problem. How could I heal if I couldn’t feel? I wasn’t sure what the answer was.

Then one day, just like that - I thawed. And the flood came without warning, without regard for where I was or what I was doing. Thankfully, I was driving down a country road. I felt the anger in every cell of my body. I felt like my physical body would explode into a million pieces and I would evaporate into thin air. I pulled over on the side of the road and gripped the steering wheel and silent screamed. Over and over again. And then it occurred to me, why should I be silent? I have been silent for so long. Silent about the loss of love in my marriage. Silent about the fact that I hadn’t been truly happy for a long time. Silent. Silent. Silent. I would be silent no more. 

And so I really screamed. It was a scream of someone birthing something so powerful, so primal, there was no way to contain it. I screamed and I didn’t know if I could stop. But eventually, with a hoarse voice and tears streaming down my face, it stopped. I could only hear the wind blowing in the tall grass and the sound of summer birds chirping all around me. My screams didn’t silence them - life continued as it was before.  

It was at that moment that the anger truly left me. I knew it was gone. And all that was left was sadness.