I am not here to judge how worthy of resentment an ex is, that is up to you alone to decide. Instead, this article is based upon a single judgement-free premise, that holding onto our pain allows it to define us, and consequently the fires of our anger only end up scorching our own sense of peace (again, regardless of how just our cause really is).
The Purpose Of Resentment
Let’s be clear about something; resentment within the context of grief is not senseless, and thus we should not be look at it (and ourselves) with scorn.
The best way to look at the nature of our resentment is to understand that it is one way for our subconscious mind to raise a red flag and highlight the importance of changing a hurtful pattern of behavior or scenario. In short, resentment, much like the role of physical pain, is a subconscious process that attempts to catalyze change. It is an undesirable thing to experience, but it is useful.
Without resentment, we would be far more likely to be taken for granted, or settle for abusive emotional quagmires.
Admittedly however, there does come a time when feelings of ingrained resentment outstay their welcome, and contribute to a needless torrent of additional pain (on top of other grief-induced emotions).
When The Pain Becomes Redundant
There usually comes a point where we realize that our resentment is no longer serving a specific purpose, and is holding us back instead. Typically, the moment you want to be objectively free of those chains is the moment resentment should ideally begin to expire.
But it isn’t quite that simple, is it?
No indeed. If resentment is now a fixture of our day-to-day emotional routine, particularly if we feel the “ex” situation remains unresolved, it will come to define us. It becomes a familiar face; an old friend. Someone with whom we find a modicum of comfort, but know is fundamentally a bad influence. Breaking free of our sense of indignation becomes a case of breaking up with a relationship within a relationship.
For this reason I would argue that breaking free of resentment should not be a product of attempting to “logically” will it away (which may seem ironic given the fact that I’m writing about it, but hey). By placing it at the forefront of our minds, and labeling it as a “problem to be solved” we are unwittingly breathing more life into it, because it consequently becomes the center of our lives. So what do we do?
The Value Of Feeling
I’ve argued many times that ultimately what acceptance really means (as the end goal of any cycle of grief) is an unconditional surrender, rather than emerging victorious after no holds barred emotional brawl.
Acceptance means shining a conscious light on the maelstrom of insecurity that resides within us. But instead of attempting to fight them one-by-one, you simply, and objectively, accept that they are there without attempting to judge yourself as sick or broken in the process.
The long and short of it is that you are hurt because you care. Your pain is a product of your continued ability to feel, which is a sign you are as far from “sick” as it is possible to be. The fact that your ability to care has not been stripped from you, or numbed you, in the fallout from grief is a victory, not a defeat.
It is, in the belated end, a sign you are functioning correctly. Without the ability to take the hits and remain vulnerable, you would be unable to have an open, fulfilling relationship in the future, this has not been taken from you. After-all, you can’t experience a deeply immersive love without opening yourself to vulnerability. Isn’t that what makes it all so special?