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        The end of a relationship is filled with anguish, disappointment, great sadness and often, much anger. After time has passed and the dust settles, Lana began to notice that she felt ‘‘better” and ready to “move on.” Lana reported the divorce was no longer an issue in her life. Good for her! I nodded in affirmation and was ready to rejoice and support her new journey.

       Then Lana continued, “Oh, I am SO over that bastard. I won’t ever get married again. In fact, who even wants to date? They are all the same, right?”

       Whoa. Hold on here. I am confused. How can Lana really be “over it” if she continues to feel rage-filled, suspicious and cynical? Has she really moved on?

     If our experience with one man turns us into man haters, we are not “over” anything. We are not better, we are bitter. When we take the actions of one person and use them against an entire gender (or race, or religion) we are spreading contempt, negativity and even hate. Sweeping generalizations are unfair, can be harmful and even dangerous. Bitterness eventually decays the human spirit. When we are filled with revenge, rage, or spite, we are not nurturing our inner life. Our emotional health, spiritual well being, and even physical health are often sacrificed. Like years of inhaling cigarettes or eating food that is high in fat and cholesterol, we do not see the negative effects immediately. Toxic feelings, like nicotine and high fat, eventually take its toll on our well being.

       Furthermore, bitterness keeps people away. Even those closest to us begin to avoid us, wondering when we will get on with our lives. They begin to lose patience with our vitriolic tirades. Where there once was empathy and support, now there is impatience and even disgust. Bitterness simply is not an attractive trait. It is not a people magnet.

       Being better is about moving on with acceptance and serenity. It is about making peace with your past, your pain and letting go of your anger. Accepting and moving on does not mean you condone bad behavior or deny your pain. When you move on, you do so for your own well-being. Holding on to your anger makes you hard, cynical, and suspicious. Long after HE has stopped hurting you, your tenacious grip on your anger only serves to perpetuate your state of pain. Now, HE isn’t hurting you, YOU are hurting you. You become a victim of your own bitterness. Being better is about new insight, a more attuned sense of self, an attitude of enthusiasm and hope for your future.

      So, are you better or bitter? Do you experience a renewed sense of hope or are you still ruminating on all the horrible aspects of your relationship? Is your heart filled with thoughts of opportunity and hope or revenge and rage?

      Take a moment to consider this–Can you imagine how acceptance would feel? What stands in the way of your letting go of your bitterness?

 

Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a psychotherapist in private practice and is the author of the award winning From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce now available in Kindle format for $9.99 as well as in paperback. Click here  to purchase.

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6 Comments

  1. Sue C on the 29. Jan, 2012 remarked #

    This blog is good timing for me. I can attest to the above as I am now on the other side and as my final divorce date approaches, I only feel regret for my children that the marriage didn’t last. I was married for 36 yrs and my children felt that was an enormous accomplishment and now it has failed. I tell them that I had 28 wonderful years and will remain civil with my STB ex. I have met a wonderful man who is waiting for me and I am one of those not bitter now and look forward to a peaceful and wonderful life ahead.

  2. Patti P on the 29. Jan, 2012 remarked #

    Great article. I feel sorry for those who choose to stop hoping that they can ever have another wonderful relationship. The marriage didn’t fail; it just wasn’t meant to last for the rest of your life.

    Learn the lessons you needed to learn from that experience and try to not repeat!

    The teachings of Dr. Demartini is that there is a 100% balance of love and hate, pain and pleasure and to feel gratitude for everything that happens to you. If your marriage had not ended, you wouldn’t have met that new wonderful man, so there is a reason to be thankful even when it’s not that obvious. Thanks Donna and Sue!

    • admin on the 29. Jan, 2012 remarked #

      Thanks, Patti and Sue for your words of hope. Of course, moving on does not always mean another relationship. For some it is about finding bliss through other venues- maybe returning to school, relocation to a different place, a spiritual journey or a new career. It is always about replacing the pain in your heart with joy.

  3. CJ Golden on the 29. Jan, 2012 remarked #

    One of my favorite quotes is (something like) “holding a grudge is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
    That is what comes of being bitter.
    It took me a long time, but I have certainly become better – in all the best possible ways.

    • admin on the 29. Jan, 2012 remarked #

      Yes, I know the quote and LOVE it! It is Anne Lamott who said, “Holding onto resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” Thanks for sharing it.I actually wrote a blog on that quote a few years back.

      • admin on the 30. Jan, 2012 remarked #

        And this comment from “Anonymous”
        “I agree that attitude is important. Why let someone else decide on your happiness, which is what you do if you remain bitter. Of course, one cannot deny that life circumstances impact attitude, and it is hard to get rid of the disappointment that comes from failed relationships and reduced financial conditions. Getting to “better” can be a full-time job.”

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