Resentments – wow, do I have them! Whilst I mostly feel at peace these days and much more able to accept and let things go, there is one big hurdle I have yet to overcome. Because I feel it’s right to tell only my own story, it’s hard to process my number one resentment on this blog as any detail would mean I expose other people’s stories and those are not for me to tell. I suppose the details aren’t that important as far as a blog about recovery goes – it’s how I deal with it that’s important, and talking about this needs no intricate detail.
Most of the time, I don’t think of it and I can’t say it affects my life on a day to day basis. My resentment lives in the place where I still find myself this morning: in Sweden. Not exactly in this very spot – I’m propped up against pillows on the bed in our top floor hotel room in the capital and gazing out across the roof tops of Stockholm. My Big Resentment lives approximately 300 miles from here, deep in the forests near Sweden’s western border to Norway, so I’m still quite some distance away. Still, it cuts so deep that only the mention of a name and a comment one person made nearly two years ago (!!) has me thrown right into irritability, restlessness and discontentment. Sound familiar?
So, I have two choices:
- Push it back down and numb myself.
- Lift it up, pull it out with all its roots and inspect it closely.
Well. As dictated by law here on the Pink Cloud, it is against the rules to sweep things under the rug. In Sweden we sometimes say “don’t wake a hibernating bear” but on the Pink Cloud that’s exactly what we do. In fact, I’m going to rock up at the cave and poke that damn grizzly with a big stick and see what happens.
As big resentments often do, my Big Resentment dates back many, many years. I wasn’t the only casualty, in fact someone dear suffered much more. I think all of us in that particular constellation suffered greatly, and perhaps most of all the person who still has the ability spring up from the past and knock me sideways by the mere mention of their name. It has doubtlessly shaped who I am and my behaviour as I’ve gone through life. In many ways I present the behaviour of codependence in how I have always been a yes-sayer and bent over backwards to keep the peace no matter how much it has cost me emotionally. Smooth over, forgive when I actually cannot, smile when I want to cry and forever an attitude of “if you’re fine, I’m fine“. Except I never was. It was never, ever FINE.
On the subject of codependency, when it comes to this I’m that Adult Child. My emotional growth in this aspect was stunted and I’m still that eight-yearold girl who just desperately wants to be loved and for you to see how good and kind she is. It’s no exaggeration to say I’m still her and if you weren’t able to grow from that place, it sends after shocks across the surface like rings on the water throughout your life. I have a steadfast belief that love will be taken away from me. You may love me right now, but actually you just think you do and once you realise I’m not worthy – as you eventually will – you’ll walk away and I’ll be all alone. I still have to really fight to make myself believe that e.g. Hubby actually DOES love me as deeply as he says he does and isn’t planning on divorcing me. My immediate thought when he was super tired last night was that he is going off me, that he’s finally discovered I’m not very sexy or beautiful or attractive at all. Impending doom at every turn. A text message an hour after he left for work this morning saying he misses me doesn’t have the same impact at all – I’m simply not wired to believe someone could love me enough (or that I’m lovable enough, rather) to miss me after just an hour. When he tells me he thinks I’m pretty I am convinced there’s something wrong with him, that he’s deluded somehow but will soon realise I’m Shrek. When Hubby says something nice about me, the eight-yearold girl I still am inside nods knowingly because she knows it isn’t true. It’s crazy shit.
So how do I get past this? My Big Resentment is in the past but also lives on. It’s insane that 35 years later, I can sit here on this bed in this hotel room and feel prickly and full of anger. BECAUSE OF THE MENTION OF HER NAME AND A COMMENT SHE MADE TWO YEARS AGO. I feel wronged. I want vengeance! Justice! But what would change? What would it change if that person knocked on the door here and now? If she walked in, sat down and told me she’s sorry. If she told me she had me wrong all along and has now put everything right so the rest of the world knows it too? What would that change? Would I be able to let it go then? This is what we want, isn’t it? When we feel wronged we want vindication somehow, no? That angry, bitter, resentful part of me wants her sucker punched into submission – humiliated, shamed, reduced to rubble and exposed.
Uhm… Whoops! …I see it now that I actually typed it out that in my moments of resentment I want her to feel the way she always made me feel. Wow, Anna. Time for a change perhaps? The saying goes that resentment is like drinking poison hoping the other person will die. That’s precisely what this is. Oh, and what I indeed did for all those years – drank poison and only hurting myself as a result.
Why is approval so crucial for me? Why do I fall apart like I do when someone doesn’t think I’m the best thing since they discovered how to make coffee? I’d use the sliced bread metaphor but I’m watching my carbs at the moment and I love coffee so much more. Something broke in me all those years ago and there is still a gaping hole in my heart that I never managed to fill, despite many valiant attempts. My modus operandi all this time has been to laugh it off, pretend I don’t care and that it doesn’t bother me. If you’re fine, I’m fine. It seems I need to accept that this hole in my heart is there and instead of living like it isn’t I have to learn to find a new way. It’s nuts to allow this to consume me like it has over these past three days when in fact NOTHING HAPPENED. Just the mention of a name and a comment. Stuff I knew anyway, yet it brought it all back.
Maybe my Big Resentment needs a new home. It’s better to have that little hole in my heart than fill it with stuff that doesn’t belong there, right?
Perhaps my Big Resentment can live right here? In room 1025 at Clarion Hotel Sign in Stockholm. I’m sitting here with it right now, feeling it all and trying to see it clearly. Perhaps I’ll even visit. But it can’t keep living in me like it has. Yes, this can be its new home and I’m going to try to walk out in an hour and say my goodbyes. I absolutely HAVE TO let this go. I don’t need to forget and I don’t have to forgive either, but I can decide who and what I allow into my life and to what degree. Feeling consumed by resentment for three days just because I was reminded of her is fucking nuts.
We stayed with one of my best childhood friends on their beautiful island in the archipelago and I need to remember what she said instead, even though my brain is wired to only absorb only the things that confirm I’m unlovable: “Imagine how she must feel inside, she’s broken“. M said it and squeezed my hand. Wise words. And I know they’re true. Happy, content people don’t behave like this person does. And I guess most of all I pity my Big Resentment, because when I detangle it all I see a very small person who is scared. Perhaps she’s the biggest victim of us all. So I can in a way choose, I suppose – do I go through life broken too, or do I try to heal?
It’s there, it all happened. But it’s not happening anymore. I’m not brainy like Einstein, talented like Toni Morrison or beautiful like Cameron Diaz, but I’m absolutely, 100% good enough, and worthy and deserving of love as much as the next person. I have lots to offer and at the age of 43 and sober it’s time to let go. Yes, there’s a hole in my heart but it’ll only stay that way if I insist on forcing shit into it that doesn’t belong there.
So long, Big Resentment. I’m sorry for my part. Enjoy the room upgrade. I’ll see you when I see you and do stay in touch because you’re part of me after all, but let’s enjoy a healthier relationship from now on. You can’t live in my heart rent free anymore, go find yourself a job. Arrivederci.
Today I’m not going to drink.