Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

Posts tagged “getting the anger out

Happy Mom Chat About How I Got Here: What I Figured Out

Exes Into Plusses - The Off ParentI took lunch to my mom’s house today, just to stop by and say hi. We talked about this blog for a bit.

See my ex-y left some sort of message about something I was doing that was damaging my family. My mom wanted to know what it was. I showed her The Off Parent and explained how it was anonymous.

“But it’s on Facebook,” she said.

“Yes, but it’s not connected to me in any way. I don’t even LIKE my own page.”

She was happy with my explanation. And she said something next that brought the conversation to a different place.

“I’m glad to see you taking a different path than your father.”

She went on to tell me about how he once told her that she was the reason he drank. “So, I told him I wouldn’t be that reason any more.”

We talked about my dad and how he went on to marry another drinker and eventually drank himself and her to death. And I told her, that her survival after the divorce had colored a lot of my childhood, and probably formed a good portion of my personality. She was always quoted as saying, “I’m turning X’s into plusses.” And that’s kind of a maxim that I have learned to live by.

Even as things got hard for us, back in my elementary through high school years, she would keep us pointed at the good side of the situation. A lot of the time I thought it was bullshit. Just a way of escaping some of the pain of the moment. But eventually I heard myself using the exact same phrase when talking to myself about bad situations.

I told my mom about how this blog had given me a voice, a place to process the anger and frustration at the divorce. And how eventually those parts of the blog began to subside and a new part of the story began to emerge. As I transitioned out of anger, depression, and divorce mechanics, I started moving into how to turn this major X into a major WIN.

The divorce is the biggest thing that’s ever happened in my life, and I’m 50 years old. What ripped through my safety and joy has now become the fire that has burned away the bullshit and brought me down to WHAT’S IMPORTANT.

Here’s what I figured out about the positive side of this blog, and the positive part of the divorce, for me.

1. Self-care. Physical and mental health are a full-time process for me. While I’ve never had a substance problem, I have used the 12-step program for various parts of my recovery. What I am working on is EMOTIONAL SOBRIETY.

2. Kids First. There is nothing in my life more important than the love and support of my children. Keeping them safe from the bitterness and anger that could’ve erupted in my divorce was always part of my agreement with their mom.

3. 100% Positive. While there are plenty of times I’m angry with their mom, there is NEVER any reason to voice those complaints to my kids. I remember how horrible my dad was at speaking about my mom. And of course, she was doing only a little better at voicing the victim side of the horror. And it was pretty bad. Eventually, in high school my dad began taking it out on me, saying that the divorce was my fault and saying that I didn’t love him. These will never be words that my kids hear from me. And I believe the ex-y has the same intention.

4. Lead With Love. I may not be in love with their mother, but I will never stop loving her. It’s often that love that turns to bitterness and hate when it’s flipped around. But I won’t ever go there. She is gone. She is someone else’s. And I can do better each day remembering the relationship of the divorce is about my kids. And if she’s happier, they will benefit.

I don’t always get it right, but I keep trying to return to these principles. And as my ex-y has now turned me over to the Attorney General’s office I guess we will see what it’s like trying to abide by these principles while she is suing me. I imagine that she is doing the best she knows how. At least, I suppose, she will know with the bankruptcy that I’m filing, that I’m not secretly stashing money away, or trying to keep her from child support payments.

Even in cutting off most of the conversation between us, I think she must be doing that for some personal, self-preservational reasons, rather than hate at me. We’ve got these great kids. And we do everything we can to support and encourage them. If she no longer wants to sit face-to-face to map out some plans with me, that’s okay. I guess we go back to emailing each other. That worked some while we were married.

And I’ll keep mapping my own path along this journey here. Turning my ex into a plus.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Resources:


Moving Forward and Reassessing In The Moment

san juan and de vaca drive

So, how am I doing? (The photo represents my current location on the path of life. Each day we have an opportunity to travel down the path of GOOD (San Juan = Saint John) or the path of MAD (De Vaca = Cow Path). Each day I make a conscious choice to find the good side is a day that I am happier, my kids are happier, and by extension, even my ex-wife is happier.

I wanted to take a moment of pause to look back over three years of processing my divorce through The Off Parent and see what I can learn about myself, about the changes I’ve made, and the growth I still need to keep aspiring towards. Self-observation has been the most powerful tool I’ve had in my healing and recovery. This blog is a reflection of that process, and thus a good opportunity for illumination.

Intention: I am not here to make you feel better. I am here to get it out. I am here to share my journey. To make me feel better. But mostly to FEEL THROUGH this bitter, enlightening, transformative experience. (from my about statement)

Major Topics Content Mix:

Anger – 44
Dating – 92
Depression – 39
Divorce – 115
Kids – 41
Love – 43
Marriage – 35
Money – 26
Poetry – 41
Self-care – 34
Single Parenting – 30

Stepping back the progression and change seems clear. I can see how this blog afforded me a sort of Divorce Recovery Roadmap.

Divorce Recovery Roadmap

As I began to ascend from the darkness of depression and anger, the energy also opened up and allowed more hopeful ideas to enter my daily activities. My recovery and my kids health became priorities in my life by year two, and more recently, in this last year I have found myself ever more arching towards a next relationship and the imagining of what that might look like.

So, according to me, I’ve moved from the darker parts of divorce toward the hopefulness of dating again, and aspiring towards simpler and healthier relationships with my ex-wife. I don’t think I will leave any of the elements along this path behind. There will be days when I’m angry or sad. But as I can direct my life and thoughts more towards the aspirational parts of the process, the happier I will become.

Without this blog I don’t know that I would’ve had the outlet for the anger. And for me, that’s one of the issues I struggled with during my marriage. I was “too nice” most of the time. And I sublimated my own needs and desire in the name of being a loving husband and good father. But the anger is power, in some circumstances. And even pushing it somewhere else (overeating, acting out, rage) doesn’t really get rid of it.

There’s a great phrase from Reshad Feild that often helps me remember to deal and open up to the anger.

“There is no time to slay the dragon. The dragon is your friend.”

In fact, during a highly creative and emotional time, about six months ago I went through a “tattoo desire” phase. I was certain that some ink would help establish my new creative promise, and my own promise to myself, never to sublimate my joy, sadness, or any other emotion. Ultimately I purchased a package of temporary tattoos of the design I created from a drawing off the web. Here’s what it would’ve looked like.

No time to slay the dragon - the off parent

The beautiful part is, I can have the tattoo anytime I want. To make the statement. But on days when I’m no longer in that mode, I am just fine with the fade and loss of the tattoo dragon.

To summarize: I have moved from anger and bitter darkness towards dreams of doing it all again. Better, smarter, and with more self-awareness, but getting back out there and giving my heart another chance to connect and soar. That’s what most of the poetry is about. Imagining poetry on the left side of the recovery path would yeild a very different voice. I prefer aspirational love poems. And with that The Off Parent has been transformed into the Poet of #Desire.

So yes, I’d say, this has been an amazing journey. Goal setting for Year 4 is next.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Reference: Steps to Freedom  by Reshad Feild

Resources: