Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eating Resentment

Resentments. Everyone has them. Sometimes they fester and turn into an infection. They can poison your mind, poison your outlook, poison your whole life. I have mine, but one of the blessings of being ADHD for me is being unable to carry a memory long enough to build a resentment. Usually.

I can almost always see the pitiful, miserable motivations of the people trying to hurt or undermine or control me or a situation. Those, I think, are the things that tick me off the most--put-downs, sabotage, and attempted mind or behavior control.

Generally I let go of that anger, except when, because of a relationship of some sort--relative, co-worker, friend--that person makes a regular habit of it. Over time, though I may have trouble recalling specific incidents during good times, if that person does something again, the anger that comes up triggers my memories and the new resentment gets piled on the old. I have to say that I don't keep friends who hurt me. Relatives and co-workers aren't so easy to get rid of.

Even then I tend to practice the philosophy, "Leave them alone and they'll come home, dragging their tails behind them." (Sorry, Bopeep)

However, repeated stupidity, bad decisions, or actions that impact how I live my life, things that can't be fixed by "I'm sorry!" are some of my worst resentments. A lot of times there's nothing I can do to change what happened. It just seems so unfair that I have to live with the consequences of another's bad choices.

When those choices turn out to be a pattern, then I could kick myself for not acting sooner to confront the pattern of behavior or for not taking back responsibility for what's been mismanaged before it ended up causing so much damage. I trusted where I shouldn't, ignored warning signs because I hate confrontation, and I didn't take my power back before major damage occurred.

These are resentments that I practice letting go, but I do it like you drop a yo-yo and let it spin on the end of it's string. Should that person behave in that way again, I can yank that yo-yo right back up into my hand and feel that resentment all over again.

I hate confrontation and generally avoid it at all cost. I'm not good at it either and am seldom able to really get down to the nitty-gritty and and hold a mirror up to that person so that they see for themselves the trouble they've caused. That's because I'm not God. I just want to, and sometimes do, yell at the person. Then, of course, instead of looking at themselves and maybe changing at a core level, they get mad at me and feel self-righteous. Or I say very little and my anger comes out in time by being mean over little things. Or I just avoid being around that person unless there's a lot of other people around to cushion me from them.

Normally, I'm able to talk about other's problems and tend to freely over-give advice like a food sample server at Costco--except when I've been hurt. Then I can't seem to find words to tell that person how much I've been hurt or how angry I am about that person's actions or words. I pretend that it made no impact.

That's not all bad. I pull up my big girl panties and start repairing the damages and getting my life back on track. I don't get mired down in recriminations.

The fact is that life is a much better teacher of lessons than I am. Sometimes I'm able to speak up and say what needs to be said. But its not my gift. What seems to work for me is praying for that person. I pray that God will teach them the lessons they need to learn--that they will develop insight into themselves and see what changes they need to make or actions they need to take. I pray the same for me. That can be a very scary prayer because you never know how God will do that.

In the past, internalizing that anger at people I love would drive me into the food. I ate my resentments. And they didn't taste good or digest easily. To use an old saying, "It sticks in your craw."

Until God unties my tongue and gives me wisdom in "carefronting" people, I find that praying for them works a lot better than eating. I'm seeing changes in people without my input. When I keep silent about an issue and don't give feedback or advice, or tell someone that I have no idea what to say or do, or I change the subject, that person is left to deal with it him or herself. I give them no target to attack.

When I was in Alanon, a sponsor taught me the resentment prayer. I had to say 3x in a row, 3x/day, "God bless (?) twice as much as me and grant him/her health, happiness and prosperity." I often then went on and prayed the Aaronic blessing on them: God bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you, and give you his peace (not exact wording but that's ok.)

The fact is, the people I resent may have caused harm to me, but I have caused harm to them with my resentments, and more than that, I've caused harm to myself. I forgive them, not for their sake, but for my own. In forgiving them I make amends to them but also to myself. I want God to bless me and keep me and cause his face to shine upon me and be gracious to me and grant me his peace. Resentment just gets in the way.