Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Accessing Anger: Using Fury To Move Forward

Though there is no "right" way to behave when you learn about your husband's betrayal (though there are certainly a few "wrong" ones: murder comes to mind), certain responses do reveal a lot.
In one of the zillion books on relationship repair that I read following the first D-Day bomb (Dec. 11, 2006, a day that will live in infamy...at least in my house), the marriage counsellor noted that he worried more about the personal state of women who weren't angry than those who were.
Those who weren't angry, he believed, generally didn't get over the betrayal as well as those who were furious. Fury, he suggested, indicated a healthy self-esteem. How-dare-he outrage put wives further along the path toward healing than those at the something-must-be-wrong-with-me stage.
I vascillated between the two stages, one day throwing my husband's $3,000 watch against the wall (in a metaphorical display of how he'd stolen time from me – a rather expensive but attention-grabbing point) and the next collapsed in a state of self-loathing.
I envied Jenna, another BW, whose cool anger frightened but inspired me. When her husband, whom she had given six weeks to determine whether he wanted to stay with her (and their daughter) or with the OW, sent her flowers and a card that declared his endless love for her but verbally admitted he was still undecided, she re-sent the flowers, complete with his written declarations of love and passion for her, to his girlfriend. She then wiped her hands clean of the bastard.
"Anger," writes Dan Millman in Way of the Peaceful Warrior, "is a powerful tool to transform old habits and replace them with new ones... Fear and sorrow inhibit action; anger generates it. When you learn to make proper use of your anger, you can change fear and sorrow to anger, then turn anger to action."
And action is our ultimate goal. Whatever our ultimate course of action will be – staying and working things out, leaving and starting anew – betrayal can convince us that we need to be the ones making decisions about our own lives. To assess the old with wiser eyes and focus our energy on creating a new life that insists on respect – self-respect.

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