Onions And Resentment

You know what else has layers? Resentment. Resentment has lay-yers.

I have been trying to stay away from consuming too much news post-election (are we “post-election” yet) and I am just proud that I know which day of the week it is!

Thursday, right?

CELEBRATION TIME

This past week I celebrated a major milestone as an author. My children’s book, “The Love of 10,000” is gaining sales outside of the U.S.! I was thrilled and so grateful to receive a message from a new friend and colleague informing me that she received a copy of the book in Brazil. We now have readers in the UK as well. In addition to the book being well received in other countries, we just published the 2nd edition of both the Spanish and English versions.

TIME FOR A MAKEOVER

Revamping one of the pages of the ancestors from my daughter’s lineage was important for this second edition.

At the time of our first publication, it was early in my separation from my estranged husband and my mind was all over the place. It had not registered that the image that our wonderful illustrator designed could be viewed as…let’s say “colonizer-esque” when the intention was to show my ancestry depicted by women and her father’s ancestry represented by men. Of course, intent versus impact being what it is, I wanted to make sure that the second edition sends an empowering message to young girls. I am including the new page here simply because I love it:

That’s nice, Sis. But what does any of this have to do with onions and resentment???

Nothing and that’s the beauty of my entire rant. Resentment cannot gain a foothold when you are living in your purpose, not abandoning yourself to please others, or racked with anxiety, anger, disgust and constant low grade fear.

So I suppose this is where I will pontificate about knowing a little something about the layers of resentment.

Scene from the animated film “Shrek.” Donkey is right…who doesn’t like parfait?!?

RESENTMENT HAS LAYERS, TOO

In Dan Mager’s article 8 Strategies to Work Through Anger and Resentment, Resentment is defined as “negative feelings, basically ill will, toward someone or something that emanates from the past. Resentment is the re-experiencing of past injustices — real or perceived — and the old feelings of anger connected to them.” We can feel resentment towards our partners, family members, coworkers/supervisors/organizations, institutions and their representatives, other racial/cultural groups…and ourselves. The latter is what I feel complicates resentment because it is the dirty little secret that we do not discuss. It is easy to focus on the other people and the unfair treatment they are subjecting us to or have subjected us to in the past. What I see as a hurdle (at least it has been for me) is acknowledging my part in the unfair experiences in the first place.

MY STORY

My marriage was built on a foundation of resentment that we never healed. We tried to address it as best as two traumatized social justice activists could given the tools, emotional bandwidth and destructive tendencies we both carried/carry. Our resentment also brought company: familial obligations, financial woes, competing societal gender norms & responsibilities and yes…race. And all of this was before we even got married!

The layers were intricately wound around us and strangled any compassion, vulnerability and love out of our relationship. My “cousin” on my dad’s side (hey, history is complicated), Brené Brown talks about another phenomenon that was very common to us, foreboding joy:

Oprah interviewing Brené on Super Soul Sunday back in 2013.

In relationships where resentment is a constant, destruction is commonplace. You may be familiar with the song It Takes Two by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock (there was an 80’s song too that I can’t remember the artist…)? Well, I know for certain that it takes two parties to keep resentment in tact.

IT’S THE HEALING FOR ME

As I am actively making sense of and working through the layers of resentment that kept me from living my truth and acknowledging that of my ex, I have been reflecting and journaling on the following questions (hopefully these questions will be useful to you if you are dealing with resentment in your relationships or your organizations):

  • What was the injustice/s or the grievance/s that occurred and to whom?
  • When did the resentment/s begin? Who started it…and who really started it?
  • What insecurities helped keep the resentment alive in me and the other party?
  • Would I still see the issue the same way if the roles were reverse? Why or why not?
  • If I could go back to the very first offense, what would I say now knowing all that I know from my experiences?
  • Moving forward, how do I plan on addressing issues of distrust (a lack of trust based upon experience) so that resentment cannot take root?
  • How and what am I putting into practice so that I communicate anger or injustice in a way that I hear myself first, then can be heard by others?
  • What lessons would I want my daughter to learn in order for her to live a life free of resentment?

Whew Lord! Folx, this is a BIG one for me!

I would love to hear from you. Feel free to add your comments below or email me your thoughts/comments/questions. Also, please feel free to share this post with anyone who may find it useful.

Love, Justice and Liberation!

Speak Your Peace

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