my ex-wife's anger

Understanding Anger: From My Dad >> Me >> My Ex-Wife >> My Kids

Anger is a slippery fish for me. My dad’s anger was so pervasive and dangerous that none of my family members ever got a handle on how to deal with anger. Here are some of my issues/fears about anger.

  • Be angry
  • Receive someone’s anger
  • Let go of resentment (stored and lingering anger)
  • See anger as energy that can be directed towards positive action
  • Direct anger outward instead of inward (the definition of depression)

Anger Issues

I’m willing to admit that I have anger issues. Primarily, my issues involve my own suppressed access to my anger. My unwillingness to get angry and let someone have the anger they deserve. My fear of others’ anger being directed at me. My experience of trauma happens when someone’s anger is directed at a loved one and I’m nearby. Anger is not my friend. I am afraid of my anger, your anger, and the threat of anger.

But that sucks because anger is power. The energy stored in your body by suppressing anger is massive. Suppressed anger can make you depressed, fat, and anxious. I don’t really want to harbor any of those issues if I can help it, so I’ve got to find ways to access, process, and release my anger.

Am I Willing To Get Angry?

It seems like the first step for me is just to identify when I’m angry. “Oh,” I can say, “I see a bit of anger rising this morning.”

Then I label the source of the anger if I am clear about what I’m processing. “Oh, I’m angry at my kids for blowing off my invitations to lunch every single day last week.”

Finally, I make a decision to take action. In the case of my anger at my children’s indifference, I can address it directly, by talking to them. I can let it go, by focusing my attention and energy on something else. And I can forgive them each time, and simply ask again. No regret. No assumptions about the outcome. Just continuing the stream of love and desire towards my kids.

They may still ignore me. They may still go days before responding to a text. They may never go to lucnh or brunch with me over the holiday vacation. And, it is my job, to get over it and get on with my life. I cannot, however, merely stuff or harbor the anger. I have to do something, take some action, that will break up the energy the frustration and anger has on my mood and my day.


Saying Yes to Anger

I’m saying yes to anger more often. This does not mean I’m blasting my kids when they don’t respond. It doesn’t give me permission to send the anger letters I write about my ex-wife’s BS. It means, giving the anger a place in my life, and then using that energy to move in some positive direction. I can get a good workout in when I’m fueled by my angry thoughts. I can exhaust myself in a competitive tennis match, and come back home with a positive attitude. Letting it go is good, but using the energy of anger is even better.

Okay, so I say yes to anger. I identify moments when I’m angry. I identify people who make me angry or frustrated. Then, I make choices based on that information.

I no longer make efforts to “get together” with people that trigger my frustration. I let people float peacefully out of my circle of influence and interaction. It’s fine. I am okay with letting go of people in my life who do not support or live a healthy lifestyle. That healthy part includes mental wellness, mindfulness, and kindness. I am no longer hanging with people who are not kind.

Except with my kids. I am hanging with them every chance I get. I got so many of those days and nights stolen from me because of the divorce, and the shitty non-custodial package I got. But I’m not all that worked up about that loss either. I’m optimistic about the future. But I’m also a realist. My kids are 19 and 21. One of the last things they want to do is pause their busy social lives and hang with me. I have to offer food, gifts, or some other incentive. It’s okay, that’s what parents do during this phase of our relationship. As my kids get older, they are going to seek out time with me. I will still be here. I will always say yes, please.

So, You Are Angry

Let’s get on with it.

Example moment of processing: I’m pissed. My ex-wife is mean and unapproachable about everything. That also makes me sad for my kids. It would be easier if their mom and I got along. But try as I may, that’s not her plan. I’m going to research plans for next Christmas and taking my kids to Mexico.

Identify my anger >> Label the source >> Take action.

That’s the best that I can do with my process. Do you have any other suggestions on dealing with anger? I’d love to hear them in the comments.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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