Resentment

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When I was younger, I was very sarcastic.

When I learned that sarcasm was often a sign of anger, and was told more than once that my humor was hurtful, I intentionally dialed it back.

But with less of a covering over the real reasons for my feelings, I just felt angry.

But I got absorbed by life, and distracted myself repeatedly.  I did what earned me praise by others, despite whether it brought me happiness, and when I found myself resentful and overwhelmingly angry, I unleashed the feelings in big and scary ways.

And yet, the most common emotion I’ve felt in recent years is resentment, something Beattie describes as “hardened chunks of anger.”

Resentments are the blocks that hold us back from loving ourselves and others.  Resentments do not punish others; they punish us.

I find it interesting that this language about resentment parallels that of why we should forgive: because forgiving doesn’t release the other person, it releases us.

I’ve held many resentments in my life.  In many ways, I resented my husband for his career.  When we divorced, I was a stay-at-home mom with a punctuated work history of odd jobs here and there.  He was a careerist, with more than 10 years with his employer and grossing nearly six figures.  But I drove him to his first job interview with the company.  I followed him across the country three times, leaving friends and jobs. 

Again, there’s the control freak.  Again, there’s the “what’s in it for me?”

And even now, in my current relationship, I have carried the heavy weight of resentment.  But we agreed to the same arrangements in our divorce.  But I paid for the down payments on both these homes.  But my kids are 3,000 miles away.  But I make half as much money as he does and he won’t help me get a job at his company, but will anyone else. But I continually put him first, and sacrificed time with my kids to ensure he was happy and now they’re gone. 

I can pretend the resentments aren’t there, that I’ve somehow moved past the anger resulting from failed attempts to control his process (“we said we’d do things the same way”), but they are there, and heavily so.  I feel them when I feel anger.  And I feel anger when I feel marginalized on his scale of importance.

But, just like forgiveness, I see that resentment is really harming oneself, and, if we’re being very honest, our resentments are chunks of hardened anger toward ourselves, with the erroneous label of “someone did this to me” slapped on the side.

Again, victim, victim, victim.

In many ways, I resent myself.  My decisions.  My mindset.  The things I did and did not do.  And they start from very early in my life.  I resent not studying more for my chemistry class in college.  Had I, I wouldn’t have failed and my career in medicine may have been realized.  Had I not given up my dream of law school when my ex-husband, then boyfriend told me he didn’t expect our relationship to survive long-distance, I may have had an entirely different life path.  Had I not agreed to be a stay-at-home mom because it’s what I thought I should do to save money and secure my reputation as a good mom, maybe I would have been happier and wouldn’t have felt the temptation to stray outside of my marriage.

Those hardened chunks of resentment are slowly dissolved through forgiveness, the author writes.

It’s time to let go, she stresses.

Don’t lose sight of your boundaries, but let go.

…that’s something to think about.

 

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