One of the hardest things to do during or after a divorce, is let go of any resentment you might have towards a jerky ex.
I get it. You hate her. You hate him. He’s a piece of dog poo. She’s a mess. Your skin crawls when you hear his or her voice…your blood pressure rises with every single email or text from this human being.
Welcome to divorce. Wink.
If you loved your ex still, most likely you wouldn’t be divorced! This doesn’t mean that everyone who gets divorced hates his or her ex as some people remain friendly afterwards, but it’s not unusual to have a bit of dislike for your former partner.
Especially if your ex is a bad coparent, an absent coparent, financially wrecked you, doesn’t pay support, milks you for every cent…or many other numerous reasons. It’s very easy if you’re struggling to rebuild yourself after divorce with or without kids, to not feel a little pissed at the person who is doing you wrong, essentially.
However, anger is an emotion that while it seems to go one way, is an emotion that is both directed…and swallowed. What the heck does that mean? I’m asking myself that now.
It means that when you’re angry, the other party feels your anger, but so do you. They say that depression is anger turned inwards, right? Well if you’re angry at someone else, you’re bound to feel it. Dare I say it, you’re probably consumed with anger! It’s not exactly a very fleeting feeling…being angry at someone. But all that resentment you have towards your ex—is it really making this person a better person? Or is it just wasting your energy?
1-Time Spent Mad is Wasted Time
No one blames you for being mad at your ex who barely sees his kids. No one blames you for being mad at your ex who is going after your every red cent. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to be mad at an ex. However, all the time you’re spending angry isn’t paying bills…or helping your kids out. I felt very angry at my ex for his choices this past year, and then I realized I was just wasting energy I needed to be the very best single parent I could be. Think of it this way—all those pent-up feelings and bogged down emotions are keeping you from finding solutions to the problems this person is perhaps, creating. Instead of being mad, find ways to make more money or work with your budget…find resources to help your kids…etc.
Don’t waste time being mad.
2-Person Won’t Change No Matter How Mad You Are
I accepted a long time ago that my ex’s hatred towards me isn’t going to change. So instead of RSVPing to the fights, I decided I needed to respond only when needed and also, show kindness.
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
Well, I can’t control someone’s else’s actions and neither can you. I can only control my own—and so I would rather behave as I feel is right. I want my own choices to make me feel good at night. I want to consider the big picture and not get entangled in the minutiae. You can only control what you do. No matter how mad you get, your ex won’t change.
3- At The End of the Day, The Ex Wins
When you waste time being mad about your ex…or if you spend a lot of time depressed about a nasty ex, at the end of the day, your ex wins.
The ex wins because this person who isn’t even your spouse anymore has managed to create distress in your life. The less distressed and affected you are, the more and more you win, despite your ex’s decisions.
Your ex can and will do whatever he or she wants, but if you allow his or her every crappy move to sink your battleship well then, my dear, you’ve lost and your ex has won.
Do you want that?
No way, no how.
4- Left You But You Refuse Joy Even Still
If you didn’t want the divorce or perhaps your ex cheated or left you with his or her lover, I understand your wrath. However, you can’t make someone come back to you no matter how hard you wish for it, and truly, if this person doesn’t want you and would disrespect you…why would you want this person back?
All that time being angry is wasted time. You could be moving on with someone else who’s much better for you, and to you.
5-Sick With Stress Makes Your Life Worse
I know that when my ex started acting up, I got sick thanks to stress. A lot of time was spent feeling sick—literally! It was understandable given the situation, but when you decide that you are not going to let a person infringe on your happiness no matter what, you’ll find that the stress and sickness weakens.
Allowing yourself to hold onto resentment and anger no matter how well deserved, will only hurt you in the long run.
Moral of this story: yes, it damn well sucks when an ex is a jerk, but you cannot change the person or tell him or her what to do. You are only in control of your own actions. Make sure you make actions that sit well with you. Make sure you make time to find solutions, and avoid engaging in unnecessary battle. It’s not worth your time and energy—I promise!
Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated, writer, comedienne, and single mother. Laura will work for chocolate. The former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate is currently writing about divorce, sex, women’s issues, fitness, parenting, marriage and more for the New York Times, DivorceForce, Women’s Health, Redbook, Working Mother, Pop Sugar, Your Tango and numerous other sites. Her own website is frommtvtomommy.com .