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Holding on to emotional pain…

Whether we call it a grudge, bitterness, resentment, or something else, most of us have difficulty letting go of our emotional pain. I have to admit, I was taught by the best. My mother could hold a grudge like no one I’ve ever met. I remember my aunt Linda, my mom’s sister, once saying, “Nobody can hold a grudge like your mom.” That hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never thought about it before. I knew it subconsciously, but I had never put a name to it. That statement has pinged around in my consciousness for over 20 years now.

Growing up, my mom was always battling with someone, usually one of her 5 sisters. It got worse as she got older. My mom was a mean girl who was often very vindictive and manipulative when she was holding on to emotional pain. I learned these interactions from a very young age and that’s how I interacted in relationships, too until I was in my early 20s.

I remember standing in the kitchen of the home I shared with my ex-husband and a realization hit me that he was so incredibly easy to manipulate and that is exactly what I had been doing in our relationship. From that day forward, I realized that I did not want to behave that way ever again. I started changing the way I interacted in relationships and stopped holding on to everything that hurt me. I stopped hoping for vindication and started trying to grow and improve my relationships. Many times I failed, but I’m still working on it.

I’m far from perfect. I still feel myself wanting to hold on to pain when someone hurts me. I admit that I also find myself wanting justice in unjust experiences, especially when it involves someone I love and care about. For the most part, though, I don’t have the energy to hold a grudge and want revenge. I don’t want to manipulate anyone. I want people to be healthy and functional and if they choose to be dysfunctional, then I don’t want them in my life.

I’m so blessed to have gone to therapy for years now and have learned, instead of throwing daggers at people who have hurt me, to resolve the pain for myself. I only hurt myself when I don’t tell someone how something they have said or done makes me feel. I only hurt myself if I hold on to the pain. I only hurt myself if I try to manipulate others. I only hurt myself if I continue to participate in toxic relationships.

Not everyone deserves the privilege of being in my life and I’m okay with setting boundaries to keep toxic people out even if that includes most of my family. I am also very grateful to the wonderful people I have around me who love me and show their love for me on a daily basis. Thank you to my husband, Lynn, my daughter, Hazi, my daughter’s boyfriend, Grant, my sister by choice, Melissa, my brother by choice, Dave, my biological brother, Michael, his wife, Tallusa, my friends Tammy, Lynnette, and Cindy. I’m also very thankful to all of my clients whom I get the privilege to work with. I am nothing without all of you.

“Holding a grudge doesn’t make you strong; it makes you bitter. Forgiving doesn’t make you weak; it sets you free.” – Unknown


Published by LifeWise Counseling and Wellness, LLC

Licensed professional counseling and life coaching

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