Four days after discovering the secret life of AJ, my husband, I started to tackle the logistics of the situation. My brain works best with problem solving, lists and accomplishing tasks.
I sat AJ down and we discussed how we would navigate divorce. We discussed what he wanted to keep, our budgets, and we discussed how long he needed to live there.
I couldn’t get angry (yet).
When we fought, I would be upset, but anger hadn’t hit me. I mostly felt the absence of emotion. I felt like I was a bug floating at the top of the pool in the summertime. Just floating there waiting for someone to scoop me out and place me on dry land. I was operating, breathing, living… but it was a kind of living I hadn’t yet encountered in my twenty-eight years. I was empty.
For three weeks we lived together. It was uncomfortable sharing a space with someone that I loved so much, but knew wasn’t good for me. I felt nothing for three weeks.
Once the three weeks were up, I hosted my mother for a while and my dad (step-dad). They spoiled me and took care of things around my house while I continued to float through my life. The pool water was carrying me through my days and weeks as I made feeble attempts to get myself out.
I went to my first counseling session on week four. I sat down and explained my circumstances and shed a handful of tears. I told her that I wasn’t angry, yet. When do I get angry? When do I feel anything?
I tried to plan for when I would get angry. It’s my least favorite emotion. I wanted to be ready for when it hit.
I googled the seven stages of grief and found the following order;
1. Shock – Check.
2. Denial – Half check.
3. Bargaining – I hadn’t quite hit this stage yet.
There it was… emotion number five. It had been four weeks and I had only accomplished one and a half stages of grief. I need to speed this up.
I tried to get angry. I tried hard to fast forward my grief. It wasn’t happening.
It was sometime around week six. I had been doing pretty well. Something scooped me out of the pool and instead of floating there, I was moving around on my own and starting to feel emotions again. I remember getting dressed for work and I felt beautiful. I felt content. Half way through my work day, just as I recognized the warm feeling of a positive emotion, my face turned red and felt hot. I instantly got a headache. My neck and chest turned red. I felt short of breath. I stood up and nearly collapsed from whatever was going on with my body.
Get to a closed office.
Unfortunately, the office I needed to walk to was on the other side of the office. Somehow, I made it. I barely remember walking there.
I closed the door behind me and cried harder than I had ever cried. I threw my heels off and gave in to the title wave of emotion as I slumped into an uncomfortable office chair.
Here it is. Here is anger.
I was so angry that he took advantage of my love. He took advantage of the person I am. He stole marriage from me. He married me while dating other women. It’s awful, it’s rude and I’m angry.
How could he do this to me?
As I sat there in the closed office, I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to throw a shoe at him. I wanted to hurt him the way he so casually hurt me.
Anger has this visceral effect on me. I don’t get angry often. Anger is far beyond being upset or annoyed. Anger is something that is so elevated, my body takes over and I overheat.
After thirty minutes of overheating, my body gave up on anger (for now). I gathered my shoes and left my office for the day. I was exhausted, mentally and physically.
I went home and sat in my house. The house that was once a location of importance in my happy marriage. I looked at the walls, furnishings, and my dogs. I thought about how he destroyed all of that for his own selfish reasons. I was so angry.
Again, I thought about how I could impact him in the way he impacted my life like a meteor strike.
I thought about reaching for my phone to call him and tell him exactly what I thought of his reckless behavior. Maybe I could tell him what he is missing out on. Maybe he’d feel guilt and shame. Maybe I could make him feel angry that he messed up something as good as having me.
Luckily, I had already blocked his number so I couldn’t do any of those things. It allowed me to keep my anger in check. I felt that surge of intense emotion, but I couldn’t act on it impulsively.
I got to know my anger cycle rather well. Get angry, cry, look at my phone thinking about how to communicate just how angry I was, realize I couldn’t, breathe, and recognize that any and all attempts at hurting AJ, would hurt me.
I am no fortune teller, but I do know that anything I said to AJ would either start an argument, or not receive a response. Neither of those options would leave me feeling the satisfaction I thought I needed. If we argued, I would likely feel more upset, frustrated and angry. If he failed to respond, I would feel defeated. I don’t enjoy hurting myself, so I had to let anger run its course and control my actions.
Anger is intense, controlling, powerful. You may not feel it yet, or maybe you feel it right now. Maybe you only feel it when you notice the hole the person left in your life. When you feel angry, let it happen, breathe and do your best to control your response to a very powerful emotion. Ask yourself; how does this action benefit me? I think that question helped me move on from that stage of grief. I hope it helps you.