Generally speaking, I am not someone who holds many grudges.
I’ve forgiven a lot things, both big and small.
However, I would be lying if I said I still don’t have a few grudges. I do. And for a long time, I was ashamed of this.
Without going into too much detail—the story behind these could serve as material for several blog posts—I will say that the major one I held until quite recently involved someone I deeply loved who betrayed me.
Saying that I was completely mistaken about who I thought this person was would be an understatement. To make things worse, I never got a sense of closure, despite repeated efforts to try and talk to them. Given that we ran in the same social circles, I heard about this individual far more than I cared to.
Still, I resolved not to trash them. Whenever anyone who knew of the circumstances of our falling out mentioned, “You must be so angry!” I was quick to deny it. No, I would say. I wasn’t.
You can’t control how people act.
It’s their loss.
I’m taking the higher road.
These statements became my mantra. I said them so many times I almost believed them.
However, deep down I was humiliated and angry. Intellectually I knew I had to move on, but thoughts of rage filled me.
Still, I lapped up comments from others about how well I was holding up and how I was being the bigger person of the two.
All that changed, though, when I confided into an old friend of mine I had recently reconnected with, and who happened to be a psychologist. Instead of buying my claims that I was over this, he called my bluff. He pointed out that not only was I still clearly upset and reeling from what happened, but I had every right to be.
It was okay to have this grudge.
While they may not seem like groundbreaking words, they were to me. For the first time that I could recall, someone was saying that my grudge had merit. And this was no little thing.
Among other things, this gave me the permission I needed to acknowledge my grudge and perhaps even respect it a bit.
Doing that gave me the opportunity to mourn, which I had never really done. I had been so eager to forgive and move on for the sake of moving ahead in my life that I forgot to mourn not only for what I had lost, but also for what might have been. And in order to do that, it was impossible not to feel a wide range of emotions, including pent-up anger.
In my case, writing a series of letters, which I never sent and probably never will, was helpful.
I also started preparing myself for what will happen if/when I encounter this person again. Interestingly, where I used to fantasize about going off on them verbally, that no longer seems like something I am interested in. I take this as a sign that while the grudge is not completely dead, it is not as big as it used to be.
In any case, my experience is not unique.
For many of us, we are told to get over things, let bygones be bygones to the point that the mere idea of having a beef with anyone seems wrong.
However, sometimes things are too big to merely let go of.
Having a grudge can be a blessing, in the fact that it may force us to deal with some deep, unpleasant things that we may not want to but have to deal with in order to finally resolve our grudges.
Sometimes it only when we are forced to walk through the fire that we can emerge as stronger, more peaceful beings.
In my case, I certainly feel stronger, and I am hopeful the peacefulness will eventually come.
Author: Kimberly Lo
Editor: Emily Bartran