Dear Jennifer: I am going through a divorce and I’m so angry with my husband for leaving me after twenty years of marriage. None of what I have done for him seems to have mattered and he seemed so happy to leave. Now I’m trying to put my life back together but I cry all of the time, I can’t get rid of this anger and I although I don’t think I want him back, I don’t know how to move forward. Can you help me?
Jennifer’s Answer: I’m sorry your husband left you but if you ask yourself honestly if you would take him back if he appeared on your doorstep, I know that the answer would be ‘no’. Because in all of those twenty years, you were the one who held the marriage together, who tried to create the partnership you wanted and you did your best to hold that energy for him so you could have the relationship that served your needs. You thought that if you met his needs and let him know how much he was loved and appreciated, he would become the husband you wanted him to be.
Now you’re angry because you are just beginning to realize that he didn’t appreciate your efforts and you think you wasted twenty years of your life. But you didn’t waste anything, his response was the best he could give you and you are going to have to be satisfied with that and see him that way. Your anger is keeping the energetic connection between you open and you are letting him ‘snack’ on your energy, in the same way he did during your marriage.
When we give to others without considering whether our own needs are being met, we let them snack at will, or take our energy in the way they want to because we don’t have any boundaries. It’s like fixing dinner and not setting a dinner time. So you put the food on the table so an everyone thinks they can eat whenever they want to, then you get mad because you are always eating alone. You get angry because you think they’re being inconsiderate but you’re also afraid to set the boundaries because you are afraid that if you push too hard or demand too much they will say no. And in your heart you know that this is true, if you ask a needy, demanding person for too much, they will just say ‘no’ and walk away.
People like this are very needy and while they can take, they don’t think they have anything to give. The more you give, the more than can take at will, snacking when they’re hungry or bored or tired or needy, and then leaving when they have had enough. As soon as you ask someone like this to give back to you they feel challenged and they often leave.
Your anger is allowing your ex-partner to snack at will, to walk into your life and take what he wants and since you’re already separated, to leave when he wants. You feel drained because anger is a powerful emotion and holding that energy is hard for you. It also prevents you from moving forward because your energy is still tied into trying to get what you want from your marriage, which needs to be over. So close those connections and set some boundaries for your energy so you can stop allowing the energy snacking and focus your energy on what you want and need, which is to let this part of your life be over and move forward into a life that serves you, with a partner who can meet your needs
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