I remember that feeling of it being hard to swallow.
It was hard to acknowledge any kind of joy, or remember any of the happy memories during my divorce. The bitterness and resentment I felt after the end of a long-term relationship would not leave me.
When we are recovering from the end of a relationship, remembering to find joy in everyday things can be difficult. One of the reasons that, despite our best efforts, we can find it almost impossible to move on is when we are prisoner to one of the ugliest feelings of all.
Being bitter and resentful.
Resentment is nasty. Unlike feelings of guilt and shame, what makes resentment so ugly is that it has a tendency to turn you, an otherwise kind and reasonable person, into someone who is so angry at their own life situation that it is impossible to recover.
Bitterness makes it hard for the people who love us to be around us. It makes it hard to focus on all the good stuff in life. And it keeps us from moving on. None of us wants or deserves that mistreatment.
Feeling bitter is like a combination of anger, disappointment, and resentment at being treated unfairly. Did you notice that? The verb treated is in the past tense, and it deals with things that happened that we cannot change or control.
The more you continue to look in the past, the more you remain a prisoner of it, and the harder it becomes to plan for the things you can control. Such as your future. And your happiness. The present moment. And the rest of your life—and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to live with the weight of feeling screwed over forever resting on your shoulders.
So, knock it off. You need to spend that emotional energy on planning your future. Every time you feel yourself getting resentful for something that happened in your marriage, nip that thought in the bud. And instead, start channeling those feelings and that energy into planning your future and your new life.
Being bitter means that you are letting your ex continue to hurt you, and you deserve better than that craziness. Feeling resentful because of being treated unfairly during your marriage sucks. It’s completely not fair and not right that your ex did not treat you with the love and respect that you deserved.
But remember: the longer we allow ourselves to feel angry because of how this person harmed us during our relationship, the longer and easier it is for them to have control over us.
Keep in mind that our marriage with this person has ended, and we do not owe them any of our emotional energy.
There is most likely a good reason that we are no longer with that person, and being divorced has given us the chance to start over and do things on our own terms. So why let our exes have any more control over us? This is our chance to define who we are, what it is that we want, and where it is that we want to be.
We can let it go. We deserve to let it go.
Exercise: How to let it go.
1. Write down—and be specific—about the things that are making you feel bitter. But don’t spend too much time reflecting on those experiences—for a number of reasons. One, because the factors leading up to you feeling that way are in your past, which you can’t change. Two, because the only way you can overcome those feeling is to re-frame how you think of the past and focus on the present and future instead. Need some examples? Take a look below:
I feel bitter because I got screwed over with money in the settlement.
I feel bitter because I see my ex moved on with their new relationship, and I’m still here with nothing.
2. Re-frame that state of mind. The problem with resentment is that it forces us to look at something in a negative light, when, in fact, it may actually be a blessing in disguise. See what I mean below:
I’m feeling like I got screwed over. What does that mean exactly? Screwed over with my finances? Well, doesn’t that actually mean that I now have the freedom to watch my own budget and prioritize what’s important for me, instead of having to ask for their permission or having someone watch what I’m doing all the time? Heck yes! Now I get to manage my own finances—it may be difficult because I may not be as comfortable as I once was, but what I have and what I control is mine.
I’m bitter because my ex has moved on and I’m still here. Okay, so I’m not with my ex anymore, but that means that I don’t have to put up with all their craziness. Oh, so he/she has a new partner? Well, let them deal with my ex—now I am free and my life is now my own. They’ve actually done me a favor. I am better off without my partner, and if anything, I can actually feel happy and relieved that such toxicity is no longer in my life, dragging me down.
If resentment is still holding you prisoner, you do not have to fight the battle alone.
It’s normal to have some residual hard feelings after a split. However, if you find yourself not being able to shake it, remember that you can reach out for a little assistance. Depending on your needs, you may find that working with a divorce coach or a therapist can help you pinpoint what is holding you back and can help you move on.
You should not have to be a prisoner to feeling bitter, and there is no reason that it needs to control your life.
Remember that you are better than that, and that you deserve a hell of a lot more for yourself and your future than letting those feelings of resentment and unjust treatment weigh you down. You deserve that awesome future that lies ahead.
Author: Martha Bodyfelt
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Travis May