Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Angry ACOD Responds

A husband asked his wife, "How do you control your anger so well? You never fight back when we disagree?"  

The woman answered,  "I work out my anger by cleaning the toilet."

To which the husband said, "But how does that help?"     

"I use your toothbrush", she said.

As an adult child responding to my parents divorce, anger was and still is a reoccurring emotion.   My sense of loss and it being at the hands and decisions of one of my parents made me very mad.  My anger caused feelings of wanting revenge at times , and I wish I could say that the worst thing I thought of was using my father's toothbrush to clean the toilet.  I thought of worse things I could do to embarrass him,  shame him,   and hurt him, as he was doing to me.  I am grateful that I didn't act on those ideas.  In fact, I probably had to become more comfortable expressing my anger , than holding it back.

Anger tells us that something IS wrong and we can respond to in in a spectrum of ways. One end of the spectrum is lashing out in word and action ,  and the other end of the spectrum is denying it and holding it inside.  Neither is good for us or the situation .  Our response truly matters!!

When I first realized that my father's affair was not going to be a short lived difficult time in our family life, but that it was the beginning of a permanent loss for all of us,  I would have people ask me how I was doing and I was in such disbelief that I would often just say "fine".  My sense of shame caused me to minimize my feelings and my desire to have life stay the same in the rest of my life, had me trying to think that not that much was going to change.
I would say I was "frustrated" , or I would say that I could see both sides at times.  I wasn't allowing myself to be angry at a parent. It seemed that it was not honoring or it was disrespectful.   Through the help of counselors and divorce care support group I was able to see that "stuffing" my anger  would cause me to open it one day and it would be a bottle full of bitterness.  I began to choose to say that I was indeed angry at the injustice that my mother had suffered at my father's hand.  I was angry at the "other woman".  I was angry that my father had used visits to me as an excuse to see his mistress as he travelled. I was angry that if my parent's had been experiencing such differences in their marriage that as adult children , my siblings and I hadn't been made aware of it prior to this crisis.  I was angry at myself for not noticing things that were red flags or warning signs of deeper problems that they had been dealing with.  I was mad at God for allowing years of deception. He surely could have had things become discovered sooner had he wished.  I was mad, angry and furious at times.  And feeling those things and talking about it was GOOD for my soul.  It freed me from locking it in.  It was in many instances justified , because a wrong had been committed against me and others I love.  I love the wrong doer, too, but I still can have anger.  I have come to see that God can love us and yet feel angry at our sin.  I guess I can feel that way, too.

Once I became more comfortable with my anger I swung to the opposite extreme.  When people would ask me how I was doing , I would then unleash upon them with an abbreviated version of what i was going through,  what the injustices were , and I am sure I did this all with a furrowed brow and clenched fists.  The poor checkout lady at the grocery store one day , when she said "How is your day going"  ended up  hearing an earful.....I was feeling good about getting it "out" ....but after that , I realized I was going too far.   Certain people could handle hearing my feelings and others did not need to.  Punching my pillow , or crying aloud in my car and ripping up a letter that evoked betrayed feelings seemed appropriate as I tried to express what was going on inside. I did realize though, that acts of violence or attack in word or deed had no place in my response.  And if you are feeling the need to physically hurt the one hurting you , please look for a counselor very soon. 

For either one of the extremes of minimizing anger or lashing out in anger,  and for all the feelings in between ,  it is important to seek counsel and work through this important piece of grieving.  

Anger does have a place in  how an adult child responds to their parents divorce.  It is best if the anger can produce healthy results, not unhealthy ones.  If our response matters, then what does HEALTHY anger look like?  We will touch on that topic next time!!



  1. Im still angry at my Dad for having a 3 year affair and leaving my mum and little sister in obscene amounts of debt. He moved away and in with his woman and expected us all to get over it. However every time I try to express this too him I am overcome by some kind of ill placed sympathy for him. I dont honestly think he feels sorry for himself so why do i feel sorry for him! Its all very confusing. I will eventually work my anger out I hope!

  2. Kat,
    I can understand how you would be angry at your father for having an affair and also for leaving a financial burden on others, and probably anger at him because you were left to care and be worried by the financial situation , when it appears he wasn't concerned. It is difficult to express anger to a parent if you are not accustomed to it, or if you were not freely allowed to do so in the past. Expressing your anger is important. How you do it is important too. I have learned that I can feel angry at my father and at the same time feel sympathy for him. I feel sorry for him in many ways and understand how you feel like that. You can feel both and express both things at the same time I think. Working your anger out is important. Keep working at doing that.Good to hear from you. Thanks for your comments.



JANUARY TOPICS : Help and Hope
Bonds Unravel


MARCH TOPICS: Accepting Change
Forgiving Parents
Time For Serenity
Things/Objects of Meaning

Photo Album

JUNE/JULY : Reflecting and Writing Again

Acods and Listening
Acods and Materialism
Acods and Identity

Serenity Prayer Worksheet
ACODs and Simplicity
A New Look to the Blog!!
Serenity Prayer Extended Version/Worksheet
Why do we Blog???

ACOD Serenity Prayer
ACOD Fathers and Mothers
Things Still Aren't Right This Christmas

Grandchildren of Divorce
ACODs and Affairs
Keep Going
ACOD Forward and Back
Lord' Prayer ACOD version
Ripple Effect
Grief Revisited
Too Many Choices
ACOD Times To Remember
Telling the Truth
Behind the Curtain

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