When talking to your co-parent (ex) about your shared children, what makes you upset? When you think about the past do you still have anger and unresolved bitterness? Let’s talk through some of the ways we can navigate getting past the “Madness” to the sadness and maybe even to the forgiveness:
When a relationship comes to an end, there is usually one leaving and one getting left. No matter where you are in the experience of it, both parties end up with significant pain and the potential to stay mad at each other for years, maybe decades. As a professional who works in the field of high conflict co-parenting after divorce, let me tell you, I know there are long lists of reasons that people dig their heels in and stay angry. However, I want to point out that the long-term effects of unresolved anger end up hurting the individual much more than the person they are mad at. I heard it once said, “Staying angry and never letting go of hostility is like drinking poison and then waiting and watching for your enemy to die…” The one who suffers most is the one who stays mad.
So what else can we do? Underneath most anger is a depth of sadness or loss or grief. There is not a one size fits all here; however, most people who are mad at someone else are actually sad because of an unmet expectation or loss of the relationship in a manner they were not in agreement to. Allowing yourself to process the sadness can be a scary but very healthy thing to do. Processing with a counselor or mature trusted friend, someone who will not add gas to the fire, but who will compassionately listen and help you identify what is making you sad? Once you have had time to process what makes you sad, then that can be the catalyst to choosing to forgive.
Forgiveness can be a choice, even if no one else ever apologizes or admits they did anything wrong. It is extremely rare that an ex spouse will circle back and fully own and admit to the places he/she was wrong in a failed marriage – and that goes for the wife and the husband. However, you have “the power of one” and that give you the opportunity to decide to forgive and let go, even without an apology from the other person. This choice will set you free! You will be free to laugh again, love again and if you have children, it will let them live FREE between your divided households without carrying your emotional pain in their backpack. It’s the greatest choice ever – today could be that day!
Tammy Daughtry, MMFT is the Founder of CoParenting International and is raising a blended family in Nashville. www.CoParentingInternational.com