Q What can I do? I can’t seem to get over the bitterness I feel towards my ex-husband when we meet at events like our grandchildren’s school programs or piano recitals.  Afterwards I feel ill for days, but I don’t want to isolate myself from my grandkids’ important events.

A  It might help if you think of your experience at such events as triggers into a mild form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Reliving the emotions that connect strongly to the past is often unavoidable under certain circumstances. But you can develop new ways to respond to the feelings and thoughts that rob you of peace of mind. Before attending such an event, spend time feeling and expressing the anger and what causes it on paper, in detail. Then spend time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lift this burden of old anger you might have a right to but do not want. If writing is not your medium, pick two colored markers (e.g., red and black) and just doodle, while allowing yourself to feel the anger and thinking about what causes it. Again, pray to release that anger. Repeat this pattern of expression and release as often as necessary until your feelings of bitterness and anger disappear.

The past cannot be changed, but what you can change is your own response to the triggers that rob you of enjoyable time with your children and grandchildren. Use creative means and a resolve to give your burdens of anger to the Christ who died for this very thing.

About the Author

Judy Cook is a family therapist and a member of Meadowlands Fellowship CRC in Ancaster, Ontario.