My Journey from Discovery to Acceptance to Change
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Hope Through Authenticity

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The Grudge

In my last post, Tit-for-Tat, I wrote this sentence:

“I defaulted to my pattern:  Avoid conflict -- hold a grudge that I pretend I don’t hold -- eventually run away from the relationship.”

When I wrote that sentence, the word ‘grudge’ seemed to glow and accuse.

According to the dictionary, grudge is a “feeling of ill will or resentment”. Digging deeper, resentment means a “feeling of displeasure or indignation”.

Based on the dictionary, we all have grudges. No one gets through life without being displeased or feeling resentment.

The difference between what we all feel (grudge) and what I do (hold grudges) is significant.

Lost Relationships

I have had many people cross my path. Some have become great friends. Many – most – of these are gone. I had believed – or convinced myself – that relationships ended because paths changed and no longer crossed. But I look at other people and they have been able to maintain friendships for years and years. Why haven’t I?

While I won’t share the initials because I don’t think it’s fair to call out people (passive-aggressive anyone?) I’m going to write down  the initials of true friends that I no longer have in my life.I made this list because in order to accurately assess the why of lost relationships, I have to be specific. Generalizations won’t be helpful.

Here is what I discovered:

Three of these people reach back to my church days. When I quit embracing Christianity, we no longer had common ground. As a matter of fact, I had a difficult time being around these women because I am angry at god, God, GOD. These ladies represented that. Do I hold a grudge: YES. I felt/feel that these women proved my point about the church. These ladies are great for cancer or house fires. But let the soul hurt and they no longer want involvement. I’ve been told they are ‘praying for me’. Those three words let them off the hook for really stepping into my pain. Yes, I hold a grudge because, of all people, I thought they would step into the gap and try to keep me from drowning.

One of these people, I burned the bridge because of resentment. There might be a chance of rebuilding that bridge but I’m holding tight to the resentments and expecting that person to start the rebuilding process. Am I proud of this? NOPE.

Most of these people were great friends from my job. When the job ended, so did the relationship. It has nothing to do with resentment. It was more about distance (physical and time). But I wish I had been a better caretaker. I don’t actively miss these women, but when I wrote that list, I realized that I wish I’d tried harder.

The final assessment: I can and do hold some grudges.

Some Other Grudges

I don’t actively wish ill-will on anyone. But there are two people from my past I am sometimes a tiny bit satisfied when I hear of a struggle they are having. I am able to force that tiny nastiest piece out of my heart almost immediately but it’s there. When I hear these two names, my shoulders go up and my anxiety rises. That’s a grudge!

Am I Alone?

Do others hold grudges (even if they don’t admit it)? Is there a way to stop holding a grudge? Can you just decide ‘I don’t want to feel this way anymore’ and the grudge just disappears?

Is grudge-holding a negative character trait some of us have OR is grudge-holding a part of the human condition?

Is grudge-holding about forgiveness? Is grudge-holding simply a different word for unforgiveness? But does everyone deserve forgiveness?

Can A Grudge Be A Good Thing?

The two people I hold a true grudge against really did something to hurt me – in words and in actions. The grudge for these two is deep and rock hard. This grudge forces me to avoid any connection – in person or on social media. There have been many times in my life, I’ve tried to re-ignite a friendship because I was the cause of the breakdown. But I’ve never considered that with these two. I think my grudge protects my heart.

Back Up

“I defaulted to my pattern:  Avoid conflict -- hold a grudge that I pretend I don’t hold -- eventually run away from the relationship.”

I focused on the word ‘grudge’ but I missed the most important component of this sentence. I wouldn’t have grudges if I didn’t avoid conflict. Rather than discuss my perceived hurts, I let them blaze – I add small, meaningless insults to the fire – when it gets too hot, I run. If, however, I addressed the conflict right when it happens, I wouldn’t need to hold grudges.

If I faced conflict, the hurts would burn off and, like a forest fire, I’d be left with a clean floor to grow new life in the relationship.

Conflict

I avoid conflict at all costs. The concept of conflict scares me. Seriously, I am not having any conflict while writing this blog. However, simply writing about conflict creates tension in my body. Imagine if I was having to actually deal with conflict.

Here are some of the reasons I avoid conflict:

  • When I get upset, my mind races and my thoughts/words become scattered and illogical. I lose any argument before I start.
  • If I confront someone on their transgression, then I open the door to hear my own transgressions. I would be told how I disappointed them too. I’m not sure I could handle this (and I’ll explain why in another blog).
  • When I try to face conflict, my emotions run wild. I cry and yell and shutdown. I can barely hear what the other person is saying.
  • The few times I’ve tried to manage conflict appropriately, I find that not only do I NOT resolve a thing, I actually add to my resentment rock. I assume this means I’m not actually managing the conflict appropriately but rather, letting the conflict manage me.

Needless to say, that’s just scratching the surface and I will delve into this much deeper within myself and with my new therapist.

Adjustments

My goal is to DISCOVER areas in my life I’d like to change. I have to ACCEPT the truth of the situation (specifically how am I behaving). Then, decide if this is an area I want to CHANGE. Change takes time, energy, resources and sitting in the painful truth. Some discoveries I make about myself, I choose not to change. For example, the two ladies I mention above – I have no desire to let go of the grudge.

I am not worried about grudge-holding. I actually don’t think I’m different from most. But the inability to manage conflict is a real problem that I need to address. I want to maintain the new friendships I’ve developed. I want to still be having lunch with these ladies ten years from now. That means I’ll have to face conflict.

I will face this fear (with support) and I’ll keep you posted on my discoveries, successes and challenges.

I realized my grudges are more about God than the people. I’ve learned my grudges are more about my inability to manage conflict. As painful as this blog has been to write, it was worth it if I can face my religious wounds and learn to speak before the grudge builds.

Click HERE to download the Journaling Activity that accompanies this blog.

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