Take a hard look in the mirror

Joey Garcia

After three tumultuous years with my girlfriend, we broke up. Through therapy and reflection, I’ve realized that she was emotionally abusive. I was pretty depressed for a long time. I’m feeling better except for one thing. I have a shitload of resentment. I don’t want to feel this way. How do I get past my resentment?

Anger that isn’t acknowledged or investigated doesn’t evaporate. It hardens into resentment. When a relationship ends, any feelings of being treated unfairly will linger until you accept responsibility for contributing to the problem. Your part may have been very small but owning it changes everything.

Here’s one possible way that you participated in creating the mess: Did you consistently place your girlfriend’s needs and wants before your own? That’s not love. It’s codependency. She’s taking care of herself and you’re taking care of her, too, 100 percent. Who has your best interest at heart?

In a healthy relationship, your needs and wants receive care and attention in equal measure to the needs and wants of your partner. You can choose to place your partner’s desires first. Self-motivated acts of service don’t spark an emotional backlash. Resentment starts when you neglect yourself in favor of doing something for her. You might have convinced yourself that if you gave more, your girlfriend wouldn’t leave you. She would accept your love, open her heart and the relationship would become magic. Those kinds of transformations do happen, but mostly in rom-coms. In real life, too often the taker exits, and the giver worries he’s to blame. Sound familiar?

Healing begins when you take responsibility for co-creating the circumstances that created your anger and resentment. So admit to yourself that you blocked your intuition when it raised red flags or told you to end the relationship. How do I know your intuition spoke up? It happens to everyone. All we have to do is pay attention.

I did something to a friend that I feel badly about. I didn’t intend to hurt her feelings. I had no idea that what I did would be harmful. My friend never spoke to me about it. She told someone else. Should I apologize to my friend? I’m worried that if I do, the person who told me will appear to have broken a confidence. Should I pretend that I don’t know I hurt her feelings or should I pretend not to know she told others about what I did?

What you must do is slow down. Humans are naturally anxious creatures, but anxiety is not worth nurturing. You’re using this misstep to feed your anxiety. Instead of obsessing, take action. Contact your friend and say this: “I’m so sorry that I have been hurtful. Please forgive me. You are important to me and I value our friendship.” Don’t say that you didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. Be gracious. Keep your apology short. Let her speak. When she does, listen. Don’t expect everything to be resolved in one conversation. Be patient. And, be kind to yourself. We all say or do things that we wish we hadn’t. Even if she can’t forgive you, please forgive yourself.

Meditation of the week
“Every society needs educated people, but the primary responsibility of educated people is to bring wisdom back into the community and make it available to others so the lives they are leading make sense,” said Vine Deloria, Jr. Are you pouring your love into the community?

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