Resentment and I have spent a lot of time together over the years. It became my mental-torment of choice. In my marriage, this emotion and the unfortunate behavior that goes with it caused a lot of grief for me and for Dave. I didn’t like myself, the way I talked to Dave, or the way that I interpreted what was happening when I was under resentment’s spell, but I didn’t know how to change and see things differently. I convinced myself I couldn’t do anything about it and the only way I wouldn’t feel so much resentment would be if someone else, specifically Dave, would do things differently so I could be happy. And that’s the way it went for a long time.
Then we separated and I couldn’t go on blaming Dave for the resentment I felt because he wasn’t around doing anything to me. I started to take responsibility for the things I did that made me unhappy. I had a therapist, I had a life coach, and most importantly I began a personal yoga practice under the guidance of my teacher. The resentment slowly let go. It faded as I felt more empowered to take care of myself and my needs. I felt so much lighter. And life has gone on like this for a good long time.
And then this week happened.
It was a perfect storm of old triggers and the accumulation of months worth of low-grade stress and fatigue and probably some other stuff, too. The dregs of the moving bucket are still there, but the excitement about having moved isn’t carrying me through in quite the same way. My parents aren’t right next door anymore, so I’m adjusting to having less family around and more to do. Dave left for work and happened to have a couple of really great layovers in fun cities where he went out, at night, with friends and then he called to tell me about it at the exact moment when Nora was yelling at me about how mean I was because Hazel had a play date that she wasn’t invited to and I never let her go anywhere. Oh, and I should know she doesn’t like the breakfast I’m making for her amidst a half unpacked box which requires me to make my 199th inconsequential unpacking decision… “Will anyone miss the pair of dented copper candlesticks that you can carry around with your finger and feel like you are in a Charles Dickens novel?” Sigh. So, where’s the relief? Oh, look over there…My old boyfriend is back in town this weekend and would I like to visit and remember the fun stuff we used to do and how interesting I am to some people? Why yes, I would.
By the end of the weekend, resentment and I were nuzzled up together. It was clouding my attitude, behavior, and my mind so even my morning yoga practice was cluttered with petty complaints instead of providing time for communion with God. And I started to see this new life that seemed so hopeful might be a burden instead of a great gift. I felt like shit and I couldn’t seem to do much about it.
My girls got home from school and instead of soaking up homework time on the couch and all the good discussion that comes with homework time, I found myself wanting to sit at my computer, alone. Dave came home from his trip and I needed some space. I wasn’t nice. I wasn’t happy and neither was the household. Later that night, I started washing dishes and complaining. I complained and complained and I was so sad by what I heard coming out of my mouth that my rant eventually devolved into a snotty cry fest over the kitchen sink.
I cried for a long time and then Dave started crying. He said that he hoped we would have a wonderful start in our new life together and he was sorry it was so hard. Hazel heard us and she came in and started to cry over all the stuff she’s going through. Nora had already cried for an hour that afternoon and she was done for the day, but she didn’t want to be left out so she squished herself into our messy tangle of arms and legs for a soggy family hug. And in that hug, right by the kitchen sink, it was warmth and love and the feeling that this new time for our family is emotional and crazy but good, and any resentment that survives what we’ve got, crying together and loving each other around the kitchen sink, any resentment is so small in comparison, that maybe it doesn’t even matter.