My name is Amanda and I am an addict. Well, okay. With all due respect, I’m not sure if that’s really how it goes down. But I realize that I perhaps have an addictive personality. And by addictive maybe I mean neurotic. But in any case, I realized I am addicted to resentment. I am all about the RE-s. Because regret is up there, too. It often comes up alongside resentment. Like nasty bile. Blech.
I honestly hate admitting this about myself. But, there are all types of resentments I harbor. There are the you-done-me wrong kinds of resentments. There are the I-did-you-wrong sort of things. Then there are the I’ll-anticipate-what-you’re-going-to-say-and-have-an-entire-argument-in-my-head-with-you-before-you-even-say-a-word-and-it’s-likely-you’ll-end-up-saying-nothing-at-all. Those are the worst, because much like their moniker, they never seem to end.
The you-done-me-wrong ones are easy. In these cases, I experience occasional hurt because I can’t get over a friendship break-up. Or a regular break-up. And in the case of the break-ups, therein comes the regret. There are the questions: “Did I do something?” Or even more common there’s the: “What the hell was I thinking hanging around with this person?” Makes me shudder like Bart Simpson when he has to kiss Aunt Selma. But, I’ll continue working with the I-forgive-you-and-I-release-you response mantra. Also, I forgive myself for all the analysis, for the blame, and for believing that what I see now in hindsight should have been evident to me at the time. I devote my mind and heart to focusing on love and the amazing friends I have now, not the ones that for whatever reason (this is key, because I release myself of the responsibility to find an explanation) flitted away.
It’s strange that resentment creeps in with the I-did-you-wrong situations. But it does. I used to get so upset when someone would tell me I did something that upset them that I’d get resentful. I’d fall into victim-mode, saying things to myself like, don’t I deserve a break? Or aren’t I ever allowed a pass for bad behavior? I’d actually get angry that the other person wasn’t more understanding! So backward. But, apparently, sorry really was the hardest word. But then, when I tried it out, and I realized how good it actually felt to apologize. And when I owned up to what I did – usually unintentionally! – I actually received the break that I felt I deserved. I am guess if I’m affiliated with someone who isn’t willing to forgive, then it’s best we parted ways anyhow.
Then there’s the beast of I’ll-anticipate-what-you’re-going-to-say-and-have-an-entire-argument-with-you-in-my-head-before-you-even-say-a-word-and-it’s-likely- you’ll-end-up-saying-nothing-at-all. This is textbook defensiveness. But I think it falls in the resentment category because it’s sort of like anticipatory resentment. This type of mind-game is especially toxic for me because it never gets resolved. The fake arguments I carry out in my head never prepare me for a real one. I don’t even really have any real arguments. At least not about the silly things for which I think I need to prepare myself. Things in my real life are much more civil. So what is with this? I need to chill. I will quiet that pit-bull in my head. The one with all the smart answers, excuses, and retorts he thinks he’s ready to unleash on whoever crosses him. Muzzle that beast. Let it go.
So, in an effort to release these resentments, I wrote letters this weekend, to actual people who still creep into my consciousness in ways I wish they wouldn’t. After a fantastic intenSati class in Central Park, led by the indomitable Lindsay Davis, I wrote letters detailing resentments I hadn’t been able to let go. The letter-writing had been recommended. And I hadn’t done it. I had sort of refused to use this tool. It was like trying to put together a desk and it was full of screws that required a Phillips-head (not an IKEA desk because they always include the handy allen wrench). It’s as though I was putting together that desk, with a Phillips-head in my toolbox but I insist on only using the flathead. So, finally. I did it.
We were set to having dinner on The Island with some family, so I asked S if we could go to the beach, letters in hand. I almost started crying, making the request. It was so right. I knew I needed to go.
So on Long Beach, at night, with the encroaching lights of a patrol vehicle threatening us from a distance, we set the pages on fire. The wind was pretty stiff. And S remarked he was shocked we were able to get the papers to burn. But I wasn’t. They needed to go. Their ashes, and my negative thoughts, are now being recycled as sand on a beautiful beach.
Did all those resentments go away? I wish I could say it was as easy as setting fire to a few pieces of notebook paper. Really, I wish I could, because getting rid of this negativity is annoying complicated. So I am trying to be patient. But, certainly, the effort ignited realization, curiosity, and a desire to keep going.