Did anyone ever do something to you that still upsets you today? Did someone embarrass, humiliate, insult, or neglect you? Do you feel resentment because of something that happened years ago?
Resentment is the strong and painful bitterness you feel when someone has wronged you. It is also a mixture of disgust and anger. Over time, it can weigh you down and feel heavy on your heart. It can also last a long time - even a lifetime.
Different situations can create resentment in relationships. One kind of situation is when one partner feels they care more than the other. Another is when one partner feels there’s inequality in responsibilities. Resentment can also build when one partner doesn’t feel heard or feel like their needs matter as much to the other. Over time, a build-up of resentment can lead to divorce. Since your children witness it all, they can also have resentment.
Recently, I wrote a poem inspired by the life of my friend’s daughter. In “Mackenzie Pineapple,” this 15-year-old girl is mad at the world because her parents got divorced. Mackenzie also blames her father's alcoholism for the family break-up. Her parents were married for over 20 years and have been divorced for five. Mackenzie, an only child, had been keeping her feelings in about this life-changing event until recently. When she finally opened up, she expressed anger and resentment. Her father wants to remain an active part of her life and to support her endeavors, but Mackenzie pushes him away in anger. She thinks she’s protecting herself and everything important to her from his destructive ways. Mackenzie excels in softball, volleyball, and her academics, and has her eyes set on earning a college scholarship. She also has a boyfriend and a great circle of friends from playing sports. Therefore, she has many great things going for herself. She also admits that she prefers to focus her energy on sports, school, and her relationships with her mother, boyfriend, and teammates instead of her father. She bears feelings of hatred, anger, and even resentment over the loss of her family of three.
Witnessing divorce is a life-changing event for a child that can leave long-lasting - if not permanent - emotional scars. According to Divorcemag.com, "50 percent of children will witness their parents divorce." According to FreeBackgroundChecks.com, someone gets divorced every 13 seconds in America, and more than 67 percent of couples got a divorce over 40 years. They also stated that 25 percent of people over the age of 18 had parents who divorced. In addition, they claim 1 out of every 10 American children witness parents go through multiple divorces.
It is common for children to express resentment with one or both parents after a divorce. It is also common to blame a parent for wrongdoing and destroying their sense of normalcy, such as a parent's alcohol abuse. In my poem and empowerment message, I applaud Mackenzie for seeking positive outlets to channel her rage and pain, but I also recommend that she seek professional help or a support group like Alateen to help her improve her relationship with her father and to help her understand alcoholism.
I also challenge her to consider forgiveness, peace, and mercy for her father. It can be hard to view your parents as anything less than superheroes. But, the truth is that parents are mere mortals like everyone else. They make their share of mistakes and have their share of flaws, too. Just as children seek forgiveness from their parents for their imperfections and discretions, parents also ask for love, kindness, and compassion from their children, especially during a difficult time. In this case, her father has an addiction problem. Alcoholism is a disease that can take over your mind, body and spirit. If he felt he could stop, he would. But, in this case, it is obvious that he cannot stop drinking yet.
While forgiveness can help lighten your load, not everyone chooses to forgive. Mackenzie doesn’t have to forgive her father, but she could find ways to support him while he battles this disease. He is on his own path in life, but it's still possible to develop compassion for him. Because alcoholism can be difficult to witness, she can focus on being gentler and kinder toward herself as well. Resources like Alateen can be useful in helping her transform her pain into compassion and understanding. She can also learn effective communication skills. Therefore, empowering herself with knowledge, support, and expertise from professionals can help her improve their relationship.
Holding onto pain, resentment, and anger can consume you. You might think you're punishing someone else, but it's only hurting yourself. Not only can resentment weigh you down, but it can also cloud your judgement and discolor all the good things in your life. In other words, if you carry negative emotions for too long, they will negatively affect other areas of your life, the ones you've been trying to protect. Everyone deals with pain and loss differently. Healing can also take time. But, the more you can move in a direction toward releasing pain, anger, and resentment, the lighter and brighter you will feel. Therefore, counseling or support groups would be very effective in helping her move in that direction.
Holding onto anger is like holding your breath. We all need to breathe in order for the oxygen in the air to help our body function. You can hold your breath for only so long before your health is at risk. Eventually, you will turn blue and get cold. The sooner you exhale and release the built-up toxins in your body, the sooner you will be able to breathe effortlessly and feel better overall.
If life is weighing you down with resentment, fear, and anger, lighten your load and light your path with the people, places, and passions that fill your life with peace, love, and positivity. In other words, balance your pain with things that bring you joy. When you do things, go places, and be around people you love, your endorphin (feel-good hormone) levels increase, boosting your mood and your mindset. Over time this can help with your healing.
Gratitude journaling can be an effective tool in processing your pain and healing. Gratitude journaling creates a portal of positivity and possibility. By focusing on the positive things in your life, you can invite more positivity and help shift your bitter mindset into a positive one. With a positive mindset, you will have a safer headspace for processing and releasing pain and anger. Using a journal, handwrite your gratitude for all the people, places, and passions that fill your life with peace, love, and positivity. I recommend handwriting over typing because it is more powerful in connecting your brain to your gratitude. Start your sentences with, "I am so happy and grateful for" and end them with something specific that you are grateful for right now. The more specific and descriptive you are, the better. In other words, the best way to get what you want in life is to know exactly what it is you want and express it. So, the better you can identify and describe what you want, the faster you will get it. Write as many gratitudes as you wish, but write these sentences in the present tense. I also suggest writing these sentences as often as you can, preferably daily.
Carry love everywhere you go, my Pineapple. Love weighs less than hate. It feels a lot lighter than resentment, too. It's OK to seek help when you're having trouble releasing the memories of a painful past or learning how to forgive someone for their mistakes. But, holding onto anger and hatred can slow you down and hold you back from living your best life. It's not always what happens to us but how we choose to respond that dictates the quality of our lives.
Lighten your load and light your path with love, kindness, and compassion. It will make for a more enjoyable journey.
Live, Love and Lead with Aloha.
Source: Divorcemag.com “What Happens to a Child-Parent Relationship”