It’s been 17 years since the judge’s gavel came down and the divorce was rendered final. During these 17 years, I’ve worked on forgiveness and discovered my new identity as a Starting Over Single woman.
Yet … even with all the good things in my life, resentment occasionally comes knocking.
And when I recognize it for what it is, the emotion soon morphs into the “It’s not fair” wailing. Then grief follows, forcing me to confront forgiveness all over again.
Last week, I spoke with my spiritual director and we worked on a plan for dealing with the resentment. Perhaps some of these ideas will also help you.
Here’s what I know to be true:
- Resentment is an honest emotion when life has dealt us a blow.
- “It’s not fair” is a true statement.
- Justice often takes years to manifest.
- Acknowledging the resentment and the unfairness is a first step toward healthy grieving.
- It’s okay to admit how I feel – within a safe place.
- It’s okay to grieve.
- Grief often resurfaces in unexpected ways.
- My resentment does not affect the “wasband” but it can destroy me.
- Resentment can create a wall between my soul and God’s heart.
Each of these statements could be a journal prompt, and I could write a book about how they make me feel. But I’ll keep my comments pertinent to this blog post.
How can we best deal with resentment when it revisits?
Admit the Truth about the Resentment
What is it – exactly – that I resent? In my case, I resent how hard I worked so he could earn his master’s degree which helped to propel him into a great job with lots of money. Yet, when it was time for my master’s and my move up the career ladder – life fell apart. I was never able to finish that post graduate degree, thus keeping me in a lower monetary demographic and making life harder for my son and me.
That wasn’t fair. True statement.
But living in the regrets and resentments of the past will not propel me forward and will ultimately affect my emotional and spiritual health.
Therefore, I acknowledge this happened to me yet I speak my gratitude for how life HAS blessed me. I may not have a post graduate degree, but I am a certified life coach and a published author. I am also a writing coach and I am able to pay my bills. I have raised my son, and he is a terrific young man.
In spite of the injustice of the past, I’m okay and I am enough.
When Resentment Revisits, Acknowledge it but Don’t Climb into the Pit with It
The sooner we change our mindset and move in a positive direction, the better off we’ll be. If we continue to stew in the resentment juices, they will lead to deeper despair and maybe even an ulcer or two.
My spiritual director taught me to say, “I see you” to the resentment. Since I am a visual person, I command the resentment to jump into a dark jar in the corner and I screw on the lid.
Then I tell myself, the resentment is in the corner so I don’t have to pay attention to it. And I replace it with a happier and healthier thought such as, “I am moving forward and the past is finished. God will figure out how to help me.”
Allow Yourself to Grieve in a Healthy Way
Crying is not my usual way of grieving; however, journaling is. I write out my thoughts and my feelings and scribe myself into a better place.
But if crying and wailing is your best way to grieve, then find your private, safe place and let ‘er rip.
Dark chocolate is another of my grieving choices, but only in moderation. I need to be careful when I comfort myself. A pint of mocha almond fudge is better for my waistline than a half gallon – also better for the budget.
Talking to a friend who has also been through divorce helps me vent in a safe place. And she reciprocates. When she’s hurting, she calls me. We understand each other and we empathize within the grief journey.
Be Honest with God
God does, after all, know exactly how we feel. He created us to be emotional and relational. We might as well be truthful about the situation.
Crying out the injustice to God is okay. He can handle it. It’s okay to pray, “You know what, God, this isn’t fair. When are you going to do something about it?”
And there’s the rub. He DOES promise to be our vindicator and to make justice rule – in the end. We just can’t predict the timing of when that will happen.
Here’s a couple of verses that helped me when resentment revisited this week:
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever” (Psalm 138:7-8a TNIV.)
If You Can’t Move Past the Resentment, Get Outside Help
Sometimes, we get stuck in the mire of the past. If that’s where you are today, then reach out to a pastor or a professional counselor.
Find a person you can trust and vent about the resentment. Even though an appointment will cost some money, in the long run – it’s worth it.
Resentment will revisit every woman who is Starting Over Single. Triggers abound within calendar dates, objects and reminders on social media.
Our lives have indeed changed, but we don’t have to stay in the pit of despair. We can acknowledge the resentment, throw it in the corner, get some help and trust God to hang on to us as we move forward.
What about you? How do you deal with resentment? Share your tips with the rest of us.
©2017 Starting Over Single