By Rebecca Perlman Coniglio, LCSW, LTD Contributor
Author of Lily’s Little Life Lessons, available on www.amazon.com
When it comes to divorce, anger is usually a part of the conversation. Parents can be mad at each other, children can be mad at one or both parents and even siblings can be mad at each other over loyalty issues. It is important to be aware that feelings of anger over changes in your family are normal. With that said, it can feel confusing to be angry at people you love. So what to do?
The two most valuable lessons I have learned about anger have come from very different sources. One is from Star Wars. There is a line in one of the movies, excuse my lack of precise Star Wars knowledge that says, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.” The part of that I want to point out is fear leads to anger. When faced with the news that your parents are getting divorced, I believe that fear grabs hold of your heart. Questions like, what does this mean for our family, where will we all live, what about holidays swirl around in a child’s mind like wind in a hurricane. When it all feels like too much, anger steps in to protect your heart. Unfortunately, anger rarely helps to make things better. Understanding your feelings and being able to express them are important first steps to dealing with these complex emotions, so that you can come through a divorce on the other side.
The second lesson I learned about anger came from my grandmother. She was known for saying, “Anger poisons the vessel that contains it.” Basically, anger hurts you when you hold it inside. The person who suffers most from your anger is really you. Here are some ideas to help you deal with any angry feelings you may be experiencing.
1. Know it is ok to feel angry.
2. Find someone you trust to talk to about your feelings, such as an impartial family member, a counselor, or a teacher.
3. Find healthy ways to cope with stress and get your anger out. For example, exercise, read a good book, laugh with a friend, and make sure to eat right and get enough rest.
4. Try to deal with underlying fears. Talk to your parents. They may be able to reassure you and put your fears at ease.
5. Take deep breaths and count to ten before you take your anger out on someone.
Finally for now, try not to be afraid. My hope for you is that you are surrounded by people who care about you and who will help you through this time of transition. You will be ok. Your future is in front of you. Greet it with an open heart. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me. Leave a comment. Your voice matters. Until next time…