A short blog on the virtues of resentment – as told to me by my therapist.
Yes, I see a therapist…..and I am not ashamed to admit it! One of the greatest bits of wisdom handed down to us Lumby kids by our mother came in the form of the following mantra:
“Never be afraid to get professional help if you need it.”
In sharing this wisdom with us, my mother broke down all the societal walls that tell us we have to do it on our own or that there is some kind of shame in asking for help. I have embraced this wisdom and have gathered a system of support for myself that has includes a professional therapist, a trained Spiritual Director and a variety of alternative medicine practitioners. Through the help and support of these trained professionals, along with my biological family and my spiritual family here in Oshkosh, I have grown, found healing and transformation and been empowered to more and more freely live my most authentic truth. So today, I give honor to my therapist who shared a crucial piece of information with me in our session this past Tuesday.
This piece of information has to do with RESENTMENT. Resentment is a skill that I have MASTERED! I learned this skill through the example of my maternal ancestors – Irish Catholics who have absolutely perfected the fine art of cultivating resentment and grudge-holding. Even my aunt Nona who went to daily mass, prayed the rosary three times a day and said novena after novena for all the lowly Baker/McMahon progeny who were in need of Divine intervention bore grudges. This was evidenced by her thoughts on the hand-shake of peace during the mass, “I’ll be damned if I’m going to shake so and so’s hand during church after what she said to me in 1924!”
When I think of the role resentment has played in my own life, I see images of myself in Gollum fashion, stroking “my precious,” descending deeper and deeper into the obsessive pit of darkness, knowing the damage the resentment was doing to me….feeling guilt and shame about it, but feeling so addicted to the strange power I felt in cultivating resentment that I could not give it up. Resentment had become my drug…..or so I thought.
I was sharing my struggle and thoughts about resentment with my therapist, feeling shame and guilt over the relationships I felt I had damaged through the cultivation of this compulsion. Then my therapist turned the tables on me. She asked me if I had ever given myself permission to see the gift in resentment? WHAT? GIFT? I had always been taught and had actually taught myself that resentment is unhealthy, destructive, harmful, damning, etc. etc. etc. RESENTMENT A GIFT? I’m still trying to process this invitation, but here is how my therapist presented it to me:
“Resentment is a gift. Resentment is a natural emotion that surfaces to alert us that OUR NEEDS ARE NOT BEING MET. How can you begin to use resentment as a red flag that is waving to alert you to danger – to your needs not being met, and in doing so, how can you respond to resentment in another way?”
WHOA! Resentment as a gift? Resentment as an alarm? Resentment as a source of support and help in our journey? I have to give a lot more thought to this idea….but I can tell you that what this thought has done is help me to let go of some of my shame around my past use of resentment. And after giving myself permission to do a hasty life-review around my experiences with resentment, I have to say that my therapist is DEAD ON CORRECT! Everytime resentment has shown up in my life, it is directly related to my needs being either completely ignored or discounted. HHHMMM Now what do to with this new information? Time will tell!
What role has resentment played in your own life?
Can you see a connection between your needs not being met and the surfacing of resentment?
If resentment is a kind of alarm system within us, how can we choose to respond to it in a healthy and productive way?
Authentic Freedom Ministries/Yourspiritualtruth
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