I have been "mad" - utterly consumed with vitriolic rage and anger. Somehow Divorce really does not bring out the best in people... As things have dragged on and the bullying from the "dark side" became deflected by my own attorney, it no longer had to be reflected on... or reflected back by me.
Yes I will put my hand up and say I have behaved exceptionally immaturely and reactively. Yes, make no mistake at every turn there were attempts to push my buttons, unfortunately my emotions were on a hair trigger. I took everything personally, internalized it, focussed on it, brooded, and then reacted... it became a vicious cycle of destruction.
The thing that happens when we feel attacked AND out-of-control is we start to THINK, to analyze the situation (in the search of a way to explain it and get deeper understanding in order to solve it!) Sure I hear, you say but that's how problems are solved!!! Not so.... not when one is feeling attacked and out of control. Don't kid yourself, most divorces aren't about the people getting divorced.... most of it is about the games Lawyers play. You cannot step into that ring.... (and, as I have learnt, generally, it's better not to go, where angels fear to tread....).
So THINKING then becomes brooding, you try to bridge that gap (between where you feel utterly miserable, disempowered and trapped, and where you want to be i.e. ....free, happy and getting on with your own life!) You believe that THINKING (rational thought) will put things into perspective, and then you can make sensible choices and decisions, and take actions and solve the problem. In reality, that thinking becomes a cesspool, as you conjure up similar past experiences (after all, the past offers lessons, right?), previous failed relationships, other times you felt bullied and trapped, all those times you were dismissed, nullified, crushed...You go over conversation and confrontations, over-and-over, thinking what you did say, what you should have said, how you did behave and how you should have behaved....and therein is the quagmire.... it is a quicksand in which the more you think, the more you fight, the deeper you sink.... By focusing on all those negative emotions, the negative self-talk, the self-defeating beliefs, your poor reactions and behavior, you give renewed power to those memories... and the thoughts gain momentum and become feeling which we then act out and it becomes a vicious cycle!
Thoughts, memories, feelings are subjective (no two people remember the same series of events in the same way).... they are not fact or reality, despite us seeing them as truth behind what defines us and who we are. We empower them instead of recognizing their limitations - sometimes they are very prejudicial, judgmental and destructive.... and sometimes they suck us into the spiral of anxiety or despair! It is not our circumstances that hold us hostage and disempower us, it is our own victim mentality where we blame everything and everyone outside of ourselves for circumstances we feel are beyond our control. Bad things happen to good people, we can't prevent that.... but we can choose how we are going to assimilate and react to them; because, the only thing we have control over in life is how we choose to either react or respond to the circumstances and situations that we find ourselves in, daily!
Remember, generally thoughts pop into our heads randomly.... and what do thoughts do???? They of course trigger emotions.... that helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness, uselessness you felt when in similar situations in the past.... And if we are immature,what do we do (or let me be honest here, what did I do...) REACT.... becomes defensive, indignant, attack back. Then there were times when instead of exploding I was imploding, full of negative self talk, self criticism, guilt, self-recrimination and the list goes on. I will be absolutely honest, I often actually consciously made the choice to opt for anger, explosiveness (you should have seen the emails I wrote!) rather than turning the anger inwards and imploding and becoming depressed! "Better out than in" has always been my motto.
For some people, a picture is worth a thousand words.... so here's a glimpse into my thoughts around that time :-)
So... what released me? What freed me? Well, to some degree, it was time.... as the cliché goes "time heals all wounds" but it does so through helping us gain some distance from them and perhaps perspective.... IF (and only if) we give ourselves the SPACE to allow the thoughts, emotions and beliefs time to dissipate. Honestly, instead of being your own worst critic; forgiving yourself and treating yourself with kindness and compassion is even more healing than just time alone! Taking the pressure off and just accepting the situation... (in my case, recognizing nothing I could do was going to hasten or ease this process, and that it really was out of my hands and in the hands of the Lawyers and legal system) was immensely liberating. You can only take control of things you are able to control.... and wasting your time worrying about things beyond your control is draining AND pointless I could then step back and take back ownership of my life and actually celebrate the freedom and opportunities ahead (things I could control and things I could make happen in my life).... I couldn't really take responsibility for who I'd been and how I'd felt and acted.... because that just led to beating myself up. Now I was able to take the responsibility to BECOME a better person than I was yesterday, and feel excited at the prospect I would be an even person tomorrow.... because that was something under my control. I suddenly released all that pent up rage, and had energy and joie de vivre to study again and build on my Applied Psychology degree. With taking control, taking responsibility, making decisions, taking actions, being decisive, being consistent, being strong is enormously empowering.... This is how we become MATURE individuals. We need to focus on being kind to ourselves, taking care of ourselves, nourishing ourselves.... and we can only do that from a place where we feel empathy, compassion and unconditional love towards ourselves. Stop criticizing yourself, there are enough people out there, only too happy to do that for you.... but by the same token, start being kind to yourself.... because really it ALL STARTS WITH YOU! If you believe in yourself and your self worth and your core values, you won't focus on the judgement of others, you thus won't allow yourself to feel diminished or dismissed.... because that won't be your reality and your truth because you will innately know you are better than that. If you think and feel and believe you are better than that, then you won't stoop to their level and become reactive or act out. You will simply walk away with your head held high, feet firmly on the ground and reaching for the stars....