Anger is normal and healthy.  It is one of the five stages of the entire grief process (along with denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance).  Not only is anger healthy, it is even considered to be an essential part of grieving. As uncomfortable as it can be to feel so angry, it is crucial to allow yourself to go through this phase.

Anger can be a very scary experience, regardless of whether it’s your own anger or anger that is directed at you. For this reason, many people try hard to avoid it. Yet feeling angry is not wrong. It’s what you do with your anger that determines whether it is constructive or destructive.

     Using anger in a constructive way, such as to stand up for and take care of yourself and your children can actually serve you well. On the contrary, screaming and raging can damage relationships and self-esteem and is, therefore, destructive.

     Another expression of anger not discussed as often as screaming and raging is the kind of anger in which someone seethes for years. This is the person who cannot get over the wrongs that have been done to her or him, and self-identifies as a victim. Although it may feel powerful to wield your anger over someone, it is actually quite disempowering, because you are spending your valuable time and energy thinking about the person with whom you are angry. The act of focusing on that other person is sometimes called “giving your power away.”

     Because divorce is such an intense experience, fraught with feelings of rejection, failure, and mistrust, it is a situation in which people have the potential to stay angry for years. They may resent the fact that they have had to return to work, or that they now have the burden of child care responsibilities, or that they have no hope of having children anymore and feel that they “wasted” valuable years with their ex-spouse. Perhaps they trusted someone who was untrustworthy and now their anger is directed at themselves as well as at their spouse.

     There are endless scenarios and reasons why people can become—and stay—angry, but if you do stay angry, you should know that the toxic emotion is in you and the other person may have no clue that you are feeling the way you do. It is always in your best interest to move beyond feeling high levels of anger.


This article has been edited and excerpted from Stronger Day By Day with permission by New Harbinger Publications, Inc, copyright © 2010, written by Susan Pease Gadoua

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.