WORDS FROM THE WISE AARP’s online
community is a kind of wisdom circle that draws
on the shared experiences of AARP members.
This column is adapted from an online discussion.
OF YOUR LIFE
I’m Angry. How Do I Learn to Forgive?
A woman’s fractured
relationship with her
ex-husband haunts her—
and her daughter, too
My anger toward my ex, Ted*, is
sometimes overwhelming. Our di-
vorce eight years ago was traumat-
ic (he was abusive), but I vowed
not to tell our kids how I feel. Our
daughter, Angela, now in her last
year of college, has lived with Ted
since the divorce because I was se-
verely depressed. Recently Ted told
me he would be asking Angela to
move. I freaked, and bad-mouthed
him when I told Angela. Now she’s
angry at me for speaking out.
I know forgiving him is the best way
to manage my feelings. But how
can I do it? —Distressed Divorcée
RESPONSE #2 You don’t need to
forgive. You just need to make more
controlled choices about how to ex-
press your feelings. It’s perfectly fine
to let yourself be angry with Ted. But
when you feel that anger, ask yourself if
it’s the right time to express it.
RESPONSE #3 I divorced my chil-
dren’s father but never told them why.
When they were older, they figured it
out. Your daughter knew what she was
dealing with. She’ll get over your telling
her and will probably be thankful for
your years of restraint. Please work on
healing yourself; there’s nothing to for-
give. Now is your time to find closure.
ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS GASH
RESPONSE #1 Have you tried
counseling? Anger often endures after
a divorce, especially when children are
involved. As for Angela—her father, not
you, probably should have told her his
plans. If she confronts you again about
your outburst, tell her you were concerned for her well-being.
I’ve been afraid to talk about my
problems—I worry they’ll take over
my life again—but I’m planning
to get professional help as soon
as I can afford it. Angela has also
forgiven me. She wishes I’d forgive
her father but knows I’ve struggled
with emotional instability for a
while. (She attributed my outburst
to that.) Now, until I get the help I
need, I’ve decided to have as little
contact with Ted as possible.
Adapted by Karen Westerberg Reyes
*Names and identifying details have been changed.
HOW TO JOIN
To ask your own question, or to answer someone else’s, visit aarp.org/wisdomcircle.
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