I am finding myself torn up with anger toward my ex-spouse. Whenever I have
to see him, my stomach churns. He hurt me a great deal. Can you help?
As far as current dealings with your ex-spouse, try to decide how you want to deal with him, e.g., assertive, detached, etc., then,
as they say, "fake it 'till you make it." In other words, try to act in accord with how
you want to feel.
At another level, we need to discuss the idea of forgiveness. Keep in mind that forgiveness is not the same as condoning. The things that were
done to you will never be OK and forgiveness will not make them so. When we resent someone, that person still has some power in our lives. When we forgive them, it is as if
we unplug them so that they no longer drain our power. Pursuing forgiveness toward someone who still has the potential to hurt us is intended to benefit the forgiver.
The first and most important step is to decide if you are willing to forgive. This involves deciding to rid yourself of resentments which may
feel like protection to you. They're not. Resentments only harm the person holding onto them. The other steps are discussed in my book Encounters with Angels.
Give some time and thought to the specific hurts you've experienced and the specific needs that went unmet. Then find some ritual to symbolize letting go.
Forgiveness is easier said than done and is a process that takes time. Just keep in mind that you're worth the time and energy!
Richard B. Patterson is a clinical psychologist
in private practice in El Paso, TX. He is the author of three books on psychology