Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Resentment: Me, Myself and I
She asked me to follow him secretly as he wandered off by himself. He made it three blocks down the street, sat in the school playground and an hour later returned to the front porch, tears streaming down his face. “I don’t want to live anywhere else, Mom.” She wrapped her arms around him and said, “I know, sweetie, but you needed to learn that for yourself. Now go clean up the mess you made.” It was a brilliant piece of parenting.
As an adult, I realize the majority of resentments I carry with me are just that simple. I want two different things, but they conflict with each other, and my unwillingness to accept the compromise required to keep both is where my resentment lives. My brother wanted to do mischievous things, but also wanted to live at home where mom took care of him, and he got angry that he couldn't have both. I love my husband, and he is an alcoholic. I don’t want to give him up but I don’t want to live with the “isms”, and in that conflict, my resentment is born. I want to be a writer but I don’t want to be broke, and when I can’t find a way to negotiate the problem, another resentment is born. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is always the same.
I want to satisfy all my needs and desires, without compromise, and when I get called on it, I get angry. The important thing for me to recognize is that the two things that I’m conflicted about are BOTH my choices. As much as I’d like to blame others, I am the one who has made a choice to engage in all the activities that make me crazy. No one said I had to live with alcoholism. I could have left, but that would have meant giving up someone I adore. No one forces me to remain in a stressful job. I could quit, but that would mean accepting less financial security. No one says I have to keep taking care of the needy people around me. I could stop, but there’s something I’m getting out of that too. I may direct my resentments and blame towards other people, but the conflict is always inside of me. It’s one side of my brain wrestling with the other, trying to find the least painful way to get what I want.
Fortunately, the Steps allow me to take my Superman shorts to the park, sit down, and think about it for a while. After my will has a hissy fit about not getting absolutely everything it wants out of life, I can do a little fourth step and return to the scene of the crime, grateful for what I do have and ready to make amends to those I’ve blamed or hurt. I just need to look hard enough to see what it is I’m hanging onto and why. Only then can I learn to either accept or change the choices I’ve made for myself, and move forward without resentment.
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