The group appeared at just the right time in my life. The universe (or whatever you prefer to call it) just works that way. My Amazing Bestie, who got divorced last year, wisely threw herself into a divorce support group, forming bonds with a few select members, and the rest became history.
It didn’t take long for them to start meeting at a neighborhood restaurant on a fairly regular basis, and Amazing Bestie encouraged me to join them. It took a little courage-summoning, but it happened.
When the time is right, the time is right. 🙂
Bit by bit, I began to share my story. It’s not your run-of-the-mill relationship, but mercifully, it has been about as run-of-the-mill as a divorce (especially from a narcissist/psychopath) can get. (Say it with me now: at least, as far as I can tell.)
They offered wise and well-meaning advice, which I gratefully accepted and took to heart. They’ve already been down the road I’m just starting on, and they’ve picked up valuable information along the way, some of which was unexpected. They wanted to prepare me for what likely lies ahead.
“You’ll go through a phase where you get angry,” one said. The rest all nodded in vigorous agreement. “Oh yeah,” said another. “It comes on by surprise, maybe when you least expect it, but it’ll come.”
Strangely enough, for everything I’ve been through–and am still realizing I’ve been through, anger was not a center-stage emotion. I often felt milder shades of the anger emotion family, like frustration or annoyance, but to me, anger is sort of the last stop on the train to rage, and I’ve always considered rage to be far too extreme and unnecessary a response to most situations.
I didn’t doubt the group or disregard what they’d said; I just hadn’t reached that anger phase….yet. I trusted that I would, even if I couldn’t see it on the horizon at the time.
This week, I finally caught a glimpse of it. My spirit-brother and I hung out at my Amazing Bestie’s house a few evenings ago, and I was briefing them on the latest round of divorce decree negotiations. I’d been fairly successful; the negotiations were weighted in my favor (which was only fair because the entire relationship had been weighted in his), but these wins were hard-fought, the kind that is exhausting to achieve.
I launched into somewhat of a rant about that. My soon-to-be-ex had tried to shoehorn me into some wimpy terms (I can’t get too specific right now), and apparently that triggered me on a deeper level. Frustration emerged, transitioned to irritability, then coupled with bitterness. After that, resentment sprouted, grew with gusto, turned into good old-fashioned anger.
It took a few minutes before I actually realized I was angry. The realization stopped me mid-sentence when it struck. “Oh wow…I just realized I’m actually angry.”
The group had been right. I figured they would be. I’m glad they warned me. It helped to know it would come someday.
That initial wave died down, mellowed out, went back into dormancy. But I know there’s more. I think I might even be able to sense it lurking.
My Amazing Bestie said it’d come in waves, waves that might intensify, especially as I distance myself further and further. Sometimes it takes getting out of a situation to realize just how crappy or stressful it really was. When you’re still in it, your system might accept a certain amount of dysfunction as “normal”, because you’ve been in it for so long and you’re just that used to it. It’s simply a matter of daily survival and functioning.
But then, when it ends and you’re no longer exposed to that person every day, and you start spending time with people who don’t act that way, you realize what Normal is actually supposed to feel like. You realize that Normal does not involve getting ignored, being disregarded, feeling discouraged, becoming suspicious, feeling unexplained spikes of anxiety, going through unexplained periods of depression, or feeling exhausted or burnt out. Normal relationships (romantic or other) do not require you to assert yourself simply in order to stay in the equation, do not make you have to nag, and do not feel parasitic or one-sided.
And that is a beautiful thing. Some might shake their heads and say “well duh!”, because these are givens for them that simply go without saying, and they should be givens for all, but the truth is, they’re not. Some have to work at it, to consciously strive for a life without the bullshit.
Getting angry, even for a short time, felt like getting honest with myself. Which means it’s there. It’s been there all along. It’s not finished coming out, either; there will be more waves.
Each wave passes, and will eventually calm down into more placid waters. And when they do, they’ll be genuinely placid, not surface-only placid.
It’s a phase, part of the process, and it’s reassuring to know that it’s normal. It’s not wrong. It’s actually part of the healing. So, I say: bring it. ❤