Each week, Allison answers questions from readers about issues in her life.
Q: I am divorced. My ex-husband and I got married after college and we spent a great 10 years traveling and building our careers before we decided to start a family.
It didn’t work out for us and unfortunately our relationship hasn’t recovered from the trauma of repeated IVF failures. My ex is now expecting a baby with someone he met months after we broke up.
I want to be happy for her but it’s blown me away and I can’t handle this horrible bitter anger I’m feeling. I feel so betrayed and sad and like a failure. This bitterness consumes me and I know my friends are tired of listening to me. My mother even threatened to stop taking my calls if I didn’t promise not to scold me. Can you help me manage this? I don’t wanna feel like this
First of all, I am so sorry for all the disappointments and difficulties you have endured and faced. The trauma of many IVF experiences is still an issue that is kept too quiet and under wraps, and with which an silent burden is carried that is psychological, emotional and physical as the grief increases with every disappointment. The weight of this may have contributed to the end of your marriage, which is sadly common but not talked about either.
It is understandable why you are angry and why the anger surges like an emotional storm. There must be a feeling that this feels so unfair. Write down how you felt. Confirm it on paper, with a tear-stained pen. let the pain out Sit next to it. The anger is anger that’s been repressed for too long, hitting a pillow, screaming and letting the tears come. These types of tears are different, they are hotter, more intense and almost painful when they leave your body. But they must be let out.
Did you go through your IVF experience yourself or did family and friends know about it? The build up of stillness and repressed trauma can lead to a need to share how you are feeling now. The problem with endings is that the difficult ending ends up in a way you didn’t want. It can be immensely difficult to accept what feels unacceptable. People with good intentions can give advice that you need to accept and move on. This can feel like yet another sleight of hand on raw and exposed emotional wounds when you’re being told to “live in the present.” In a culture that often expects the convenience of overcoming “quick emotions” like ordering a takeout, the truth is, you need support to process your experiences.
Do you receive therapeutic support? When you’ve been trying to be “strong” for too long, it’s important to build in plenty of supportive and protective factors to cushion the strain.
You have experienced pain and loss, and when we define bitterness, it encapsulates many of the emotions you speak of here, anger, resentment, and hurt at your experiences encapsulated in a suffocating sense of injustice.
Let’s look at that first, after a long painful time trying to have a baby your marriage falls apart and your ex then meets someone else and is now expecting. There’s only one feeling you’ll have, and that’s a heartbreaking punch in the gut. Let’s meet your bitter anger with what it needs, and that is compassion, heard and acknowledged as you cry out against the sense of injustice in saying, “Sorry, it didn’t work for us,” but I did imagine the anger is it hasn’t worked out for you yet. I would suggest addressing this sense of loss and injustice in a safe and supportive way. Of course you don’t want to feel that way, but you do. You need a sympathetic ear and someone who can therapeutically hold that space with you.
Your mother asked you to stop scolding, and that’s a line well worth exploring. There are a number of factors at play here, your mother may feel completely helpless as there is nothing she can do to change it. Emotional venting isn’t always healthy and can become an unhealthy habit that can lead to rumination that doesn’t get anyone anywhere except feeling frustrated, down, and stuck. If you need to speak to family and friends in the future and ask them to, do they have the headspace for you to vent? Contrary to popular belief, venting and sharing all of your feelings is not always helpful or healthy, as it can become rumination.
You’ve identified what you need and you need ways to deal with it, so the first step is to seek support from a therapist. Processing your lived experiences and emotions surrounding that trauma with someone knowledgeable about trauma can distance those emotions to process each part individually if needed. Being overwhelmed by emotions and being swamped due to trauma is something a therapist will look out for to protect the speed of unwrapping each important experience for you. If you think of trauma like a hot press filled with your towels, everything can collapse on you if you pull too much out too soon.
Family and friends can still take care of you, but they are not therapists. It’s a good idea for everyone to ask before venting if the person can take over at that moment.
Exploring anger and pain safely and therapeutically with someone to help you practice how to regulate your emotions and soothe yourself are the tools you are looking for. Coming to terms with the injustice and regret of how the experience was for you and your ex will be an important area of exploration. Creating a safe space to process everything you’ve been through will facilitate the space for you to express anger in a way that honors your experience.
Allison regrets that she cannot correspond. If you have a question you would like raised in this column, send an email email@example.com
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/ask-allison-i-dont-know-how-to-handle-the-bitter-rage-over-my-exs-baby-news-we-split-after-years-of-failed-ivf-41417830.html Ask Allison, “I don’t know how to handle the bitter anger at my ex’s baby news. We separated after years of failed IVF.