Better, Not Bitter: How being abandoned changes you

We had a great session of the Hearts & Minds Recovery Group (an online therapy group) and the conversation shifted to a discussion of how what happened to us has changed us. Penny and Lilly were talking about how they packed up all their husband’s belongings so carefully and thoroughly and then Marianne questioned why we all had to be such good girls in our marriages even as it was dissolving. Lilly said that all the sacrifices make sense if the marriage is ongoing but once it falls apart, they lose their meaning.

Marianne talked about zen acceptance - should we just move on with what life offers us, but Suzanne said that she’s bewildered and anxious. She worked her whole life to get to this stage where she’s retired and has put aside a certain amount of money, and now, she has to split it in half and is looking at the prospect of perhaps needing a mortgage again. It’s just not fair!

I struggled with the conversation because I felt that, of course, everyone needs to air their anger and frustration, but I worry that sometimes women get stuck in bitterness and never again feel happy and free, even in spite of what has happened.

Cherie responded that bitterness is a stage that you have to go through, like the grief and anger. She resents it when people say “Get over it” when they haven’t been through it and don’t know what it’s like. Then she said that we are all going to be changed but who is the person who comes out the other side?

Suzanne shared how she’s changed. She said that she used to be a cardboard cut-out who shut down when anything got too emotional. She was agreeable and avoided conflict and was uncomfortable asking for what she wanted. Since her husband left, she’s been in therapy and is learning to express herself and feel things. It’s a new world for her and she’s happy about the change.

So I suppose the trick is to allow yourself to feel the injustice and anger - to feel the bitterness - but to pass through it eventually and develop that zen acceptance at what life has sent your way. So that, in time, you will heal and end up better, not bitter.

Join in the conversation below and tell us what you think!


Are you a woman whose husband suddenly left? Click here for more resources to start your healing process.