Resentments:Are You Drinking Your Own Poison?
By Amy M. Voltero
Are you someone who carries the weight of hurt and resentment on your back? Have people wronged or crossed you? Do you blame others for why you have become the person you are?
“Damn my ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, father, mother, sister, brother, boss, coworker…I can’t believe he/she did this to me….”
Have you ever heard the expression, “Hurt people hurt people?”
This type of behavior is a vicious cycle. I’ll give you an example, figuratively speaking.
Lisa’s father, Bob, was an alcoholic and addict. In other words, he was a “hurt” person. Bob’s father, Joe, was a substance abuser, another “hurt” person. .
Dan was never there for his son, Bob. He abandoned Bob and his family when Bob was a little boy. He was never there to guide his son, love him. Bob grew up, got married and Lisa was born. Bob cheated on Lisa’s mother, leaving Lisa abandoned as well.
Lisa is now, 18 years old. She is also a substance abuser. Her low self- esteem, anger (blanket emotion by the way), and need to be loved, prompts her promiscuity. She is well known amongst the kids her age, as a junky and a “skank.”
She has never known what it feels like to be loved by a man, especially her father. After many years of abuse to her body by using drugs, promiscuity, crime, seeking love and attention where ever she could get it, Lisa enters treatment for substance abuse.
After many months of treatment and progress in therapy, Lisa begins to open up about her past. She tells her therapist about the awful treatment from her father, and blames him for turning out the way she had. “If my father was only there for me when I was growing up, and didn’t treat me like crap, I would’ve never been an addict.”
That sounds logical, right? Let me enlighten you. We are not responsible for what has happened to us as children; however, we are responsible for what we do with it later on in life. Sexual abuse, verbal, physical, mental or emotional abuse, parents leaving, getting put into the care of others, such as foster care or a grandparent raising you, are some of the examples of growing up with dysfunction.
As children, we learn behavior from these unfortunate situations, such as, people pleasing, manipulation, and acting out, to only name a few. If any of us have grown up in a dysfunctional home, most of us have not learned how to express feelings. How could we ever know how to do these things, if we had never been taught? The rule of silence is the most prominent in a dysfunctional household. What happens here stays here. We tell no one of our family secrets, such as infidelity, substance abuse, illegal activity, sexual orientation or abuse.
Anger is the most commonly used emotion, to “blanket” or mask true feelings. We were never taught how to identify feelings such as, hurt, disappointment, sadness, etc. Using anger and blaming others for our actions is the easiest way to avoid looking at ourselves.
I have learned in my years of self-exploration and recreation that, the answers of healing, lie within you. True, others may have crossed you, whether it be a family member spouse, significant other or boss, however, if we take a more intimate look inside ourselves, we find that we also have played a part. I will use myself as an example.
My daughter’s father is also an addict. He cheated on me when I got pregnant, so I was now left to my own devices to raise a child. I hated him for having to be a struggling single parent. As the baby got older, I would use this anger toward him, when the baby was sick and I had to take time off of work. It was his fault. He has only met our daughter a handful of times, and continues to lead his life, as if she had never been born. Hate him right?
Once I looked beyond the hurt and resentment, I was able to pinpoint my part of the situation. Had I had self-esteem, I would have never been in a relationship with this man in the first place. When I got pregnant, he was in a sober house, and I was running the streets as an active addict. He had begun his journey, and I was not healthy. I had cheated on him when he was in jail, and told him of my infidelity when he got out. I hurt him then, had expectations that he would stay in a relationship with me, and be a father to our daughter. I have learned that having expectations on another person are premeditated resentments.
After years of therapy, meetings and step work, I am able to accept him as is. Sometimes, it hurts that he doesn’t pay child support, or bother to call or see her, but I now know that he is not healthy. I would rather my daughter grow up without a father who isn’t healthy, than to damage her by exposing her to this type of behavior.
Bottom line is, pointing the finger at someone else is easier than looking at yourself. Some are sicker than others. If you are on a path of change, you must remember, just because you are getting well, does not mean the people around you are. Having acceptance regarding other people’s actions is key. We cannot control, or change others, as much as we would like to. The important thing is to know, that we can only control our reaction to people or events.
Life is too short and unpredictable to be at odds with others. If you have wronged someone, they will forgive you, once you have forgiven yourself. I believe that. If someone has wronged you, take an honest look at your motives and take responsibility for your actions. I promise you, being accountable and self-aware are the greatest gifts you can give yourself.