Painting: Fighting Resentment
Resentment is a difficult, painful, challenging experience. It can feel like it’s eating you from the inside out, or just wearing you away. It’s considered one of the strongest predictors of whether or not a relationship will last, and it can be a feeling that, if we don’t work through, will consume us for the rest of our lives. It can ruin everything it touches, or we can learn from it; both are exceptionally difficult processes.
Resentment becomes even more complicated when you are a caregiver; a parent, spouse, or professional, it can still manifest. Love and affection does not automatically unplug the part of us that is hardwired to feel resentment when we spend so much of our time caring for others, giving to others, working for others, only to have our needs and time and gifts ignored or minimized.
This piece is not a judgement of resentment, nor is it in praise of selflessness. It is an acknowledgement of the power of both, and the power in choosing how we move forward, as we seek to find a healthy balance for ourselves with both.
I see, and experience myself, friends struggling to fight resenting people they care about. Some are experiencing caregiver burn out, dealing with terminal illnesses, or life-long special care. Some are intensely frustrated with the role society has assigned them based on how they were born, and how others are so quick to assume and take advantage of it. I see a mix of rage and loathing in their eyes, as they struggle with trying to come to terms with how much they give, only to have a fraction of that same effort returned. I watch them fight back against the growing resentment that naturally comes from being in any kind of relationship where one person’s needs are consistently relegated to less important, for whatever reason. I watch them justify their continuing to provide emotional, psychological, and in some very real cases, physical life support, even as it wears them down and eats away at them.
This piece is for us, the ones who struggle to fight against that resentment, in choosing to be self-less in a culture that tells us it is what we were made for, even as we learn to acknowledge and validate the justified hurt and anger, and yes, resentment, that comes from denying or being denied what you need. This piece is not a judgement of resentment, nor is it in praise of selflessness. It is an acknowledgement of the power of both, and the power in choosing how we move forward, as we seek to find a healthy balance for ourselves with both.