Getting your life back after divorce can be hard, especially when you’re over 50. There are financial issues, retirement, and logistics issues that leave us feeling exhausted, wondering if we’ll ever move on and feel happy. Among these stressors, one of the most challenging obstacles to overcome when recovering from divorce is one that can grab hold of even the most patient of people.
Being bitter about what happened with the divorce.
Bitterness is nasty. What makes it 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—exactly what you need to do as you move on with the next chapter in your life.
Bitterness after divorce makes it hard for people to be around you. It makes it hard for you to focus on all the good stuff you have going on in your life. And it keeps you from moving on.
This feeling is 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 you cannot change and cannot control.
The more you continue to look in the past, the harder it becomes to plan your future. And your happiness. And the rest of your life.
So, knock it off. And start channeling those feelings and that energy into planning your new life. 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, that the longer you allow yourself to feel angry because of the harm this person did to you during your marriage, the longer and easier it is for them to have control over you.
After 50, we become women of finite emotional energy. Don’t waste it on the spouse you are no longer with.
There is most likely a reason that you are no longer with that person, and being divorced after 50 has given you the chance to start over and do things on your own terms. So why let your ex have any more control over you? This is your chance to define who you are, what it is that you want, and where it is that you want to be. And that sure has nothing to do with your ex being able to dictate how you feel, which is exactly what happens when you’re resentful.
You can let it go. You deserve to let it go.
Exercise: How to let the bitterness go.
Write down—and be specific—about the things that are exactly making you bitter. But don’t spend much time reflecting on that type of stuff 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 reframe how you think of it and focus on the 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
Reframe it. The problem with bitterness is that it forces us to look at something in the negative light, when it is a blessing in disguise.
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—I am better off without them and now I am free and my life is now my own. They actually did 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.
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 have options for reaching 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. The amazing future that comes after letting go is waiting for you. There is joy after divorce.
Questions for the Group
How has being bitter kept you from moving on after divorce?
What role did letting go play in your divorce recovery?
Martha Bodyfelt is a certified Divorce Coach whose website, “Surviving Your Split,” helps readers break out of their divorce rut, regain their confidence, and move on with their lives.