Essay Written for relationship website, The Guild of Unbound Women.
I sat on the floor of the closet sipping a second glass of wine, covered in nearly every item of clothing I owned. It was one of the first weekends alone and seemed like a good time to unpack my newly acquired space.
At first, all was calm and organized, but as wine flowed and the music got louder, I got angrier.
I started throwing pants and shirts at the wall. They no longer fit me anyway, I'd gained a few pounds. So many hours spent as a married woman, working my ass off to look just right for him. Ex wife. Ex life.
I screamed profanities, hurled words and feelings at the pile of clothes like a tornado on a warpath. Tears streamed as I allowed myself to feel all the pent up anger and frustrations I'd been pushing down for months. I'd been told all my marriage that I was too uptight. Too emotional. I should just "chill".
But now, that marriage gone, I could let it all go.
So many years I'd kept the screams in. Now, I could let them out. I could say what I wanted to say. Scream what I wanted to scream.
And so, I did.
As quickly as the anger arrived, it dissipated. Left me with heavy sadness. The sorrow was overwhelming. I sobbed and started putting it all back together, hanging the wardrobe back up, talking to no one, not caring that if someone were to walk in on me in that moment, I would look completely insane.
I told myself everything. About the guilt of calling it quits. Admitted my fears that I'd never survive as a single mom, couldn't do it without him.
I cried about what the divorce would do to my kids.
Felt the loss.
Let the grief come.
And just when I thought it would consume me, I remembered everything I had already accomplished by myself. With so little help from him.
I remembered my strength and called bullshit on the guilt.
The anger and sadness ebbed and flowed. Hit me in waves as I worked and drank. Face streaked with mascara, I wiped snot on my arm like a small child.
Eventually, I collapsed into an exhausted heap and slept like a baby--or--like my ex slept as I'd tended to our babies all those years.
I woke the next morning exhausted from my emotional outburst but feeling lighter.
I'd said all the things I'd never allowed myself to say out loud. It didn't matter that I was the only one that heard them.
Since that night nearly a year ago, I've never experienced the same level of anger. No longer having to stifle the small daily anger and frustrations means it doesn't build up and explode.
And I've learned the benefit of letting myself feel all of my feelings. It's painful and healing and cathartic and therapeutic.
I've also learned to let go.
Not to dwell.
To move on.
To create new things to look forward to.
I learned to find value in every experience, in every emotion. It means I get to experience life. I no longer have to do it the right way, or someone else's right way. I can make a mess and clean it up and it's not wrong, because there is no wrong way to live a life.
Anger management is all about balance. Sometimes you have to go for a long run. Call in the girlfriends. Call your mom. Be alone. Write. Weep. Breathe.
And sometimes, you have to get drunk and throw clothes and expletives at the wall.