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Married But Still Angry At Emotionally Abusive Ex

by Britney
(Tucson AZ)

My ex-fiance and I had an emotionally abusive relationship for the last eight months of our four and a half year run.

I married my best friend a year ago and in the two years since I ended it with my ex, I have tried many times to stop feeling so much anger at my ex. I have talked to my husband about this issue, which I thought would fade with time, but nothing has helped.

I threw away all the things that reminded me of him, haven't run into him in years, quit the job I worked at, moved to another side of town, and avoid places I went with him. Yet every once in a while, something comes up that makes me think of him and it ruins my day every time.

I feel like being okay (and not angry) with the period of my life in which my ex was involved makes what he did to me okay. I understand that it takes two people to screw up a relationship, and I am not blameless in the way our relationship ended. Things started taking a downturn when I found out I was pregnant and miscarried in the same week, and the months that followed became a hurtful blame game that amplified all the problems we were already having. I am grateful that I did not marry my ex or have his child, but have trouble letting go of the guilt that comes with the anniversary of the date I lost the baby.

My question is: How do I let go of anger towards my ex without feeling like the failing of our relationship was all my fault? How do I stop being angry that I allowed him to have so much of my life? How do I stop being angry whenever something comes up that makes me think of him?

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Britney, and thanks for telling your story here. It seems to me that you have two issues that you're dealing with. While the anger certainly has your attention, it could be that your grief over the miscarriage is deeper, preventing you from letting go of the anger. Unresolved grief can feed into anger, and that may be what you're experiencing.

I strongly encourage you to consider taking the following steps to complete your grieving process, after which you can deal more successfully with your anger:

1) Give your baby a name.
2) Create a memorial service, inviting only those people who will be totally supportive to you, and understanding.
3) Write a series of letters to your baby, expressing your love, and letting go. Use your own faith, religion or spirituality to help you with this.

The purpose of this is to honor the very short life of your baby, and to honor your own emotional journey in that relationship. Loss through a miscarriage is a loss, however unique it may be. You can learn more about the grieving process on our page on stages of grief.

Your anger at your ex is not hurting him, it's only hurting you and those around you. You release it because of your love for yourself, and because you decide that you are worthy of a good life free of the burden of old, unresolved resentment and anger. I suggest that you use the journaling process on this page to "tell the story" of your relationship with your ex. Include in this any past trauma, as that can often underlie current anger.

Then journal daily from your anger, as described on that page. This will help you to heal and release your anger in a healthy way. Finally, do the positive journaling process described on that page to begin shifting your focus to the many good things about yourself and the world around you.

I hope this helps, Britney. You are a good person, worthy of joy and peace in your heart.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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