Don’t you hate feeling resentment? Resentment is that feeling of doing things that you just don’t want to do, yet feel obligated to do. When I feel resentment, I feel as if I am being childish. I feel guilty and I feel bad about me. Usually feelings of resentment center around thoughts that we have been taught are “bad”. Maybe, you can relate to some of these:
“I really don’t look forward to my stepchildren’s time with us.”
“I don’t want to keep cleaning up after everyone. The children don’t seem to have any responsibility, yet I have no say in how things are done around here.”
“I have enough to do. Why can’t their parents deal with the children and leave me out of it?”
“Sometimes, I don’t like any of my family members.”
When you read the above feelings, you might think, “I would never admit to feeling like this.” Can you relate?
If you can relate at all, I am willing to bet that you have only expressed these feelings to your best friend, if anyone at all. After all, who would want anyone else to know that you are a “bad person”. Who could possibly understand? Your mind will answer and say, “No one will understand.” The irony is that biological parents feel like this at times. But, when a step parent feels that way, it seems to be especially heinous.
Here is one of the secrets of resentment. Whenever any human feels that they have been treated unfairly, judged or wronged, we feel those emotions very deeply. It is part of our human DNA. When we hold onto our resentment and that resentment goes unexpressed, that resentment gets worse. Our feelings tend to grow roots and become more intense. If human emotions are not released in a healthy, effective and timely way, those resentful thoughts ruminate in our minds. Resentment becomes hard to shake. In fact, resentment becomes stronger the longer it is ignored. Like a parasite, resentment starts to feed on our negative emotions. We start to see things from a very unbalanced perspective. Every part of our life is seen through a veil of resentment.
We start seeing ourselves through this veil of resentment. The anger emanating from the resentment starts getting pointed towards ourselves and not towards the person it was directed towards. Why? Many of us were taught that feelings like resentment were “bad” and so we bury them. Anger starts to grow towards ourselves and towards our partners and their past. “It’s true. I am a bad person.” Then, we wonder, “Maybe, this relationship is a failure.”
What you resist, persists. As scary as it may sound, you have to start expressing these feelings and showing your vulnerable side to your partner, perhaps, the children and, perhaps, the ex. Although we would be outside of our comfort zone, the way we communicate makes the difference. Talk about how you feel.
“When no one does the dishes, it makes me feel as if I am the maid and not valued here.”
“I feel unloved when the kids are here and you allow them to be disrespectful to me.”
Give yourself and your partner the gift of forgiveness. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Lighten up on your partner and the children. Everyone is doing the best they can at this particular time. Forgiveness and resentment cannot live in the same space. Your thoughts are just that…thoughts. They do not define who you are. The same goes for your partner. Give each other some leeway.
**Note: This blog about resentment holds true but the advice may change for those of you that have a high conflict, narcissistic family member.