Releasing Resentment … One Spiritual Step at a Time
Resentment. It’s an ugly, murky, sludgy cesspool. And if I even stick one toe in it, it can swallow me up for years. Of course, resentment doesn’t usually come in the form of sticking one toe in. For me, it can look like strapping on my cement boots, weight belt and helmet and barreling in. And when I’m in that deep, it’s really hard to wade out.
I’m rounding the bend on a three-year resentment. So I’ve got an impressive litany of complaints, grievances and justifications for how I’ve been wronged. And guess what those have gotten me? Nothing, unless you want to count anger, bitterness, rage, immobility and despondency. Resentment hasn’t served me at all. It has kept me stuck, trapped in the pain of my own negativity. Nelson Mandela said it best: “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies.”
So how do you get unstuck when you’re mired in resentment? It took me a solid two-and-a-half years of daily, hard, spiritual work. And one of the things I learned along the way was that I was actively taking part in my resentments. A teacher asked me, “Rory, what’s the payoff here? There must be a payoff for you to hold on so tightly to these resentments.” Payoff? What payoff? This sucks! I got totally screwed! I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy (except for the one who I have this mother of a resentment toward)! I was so entrenched, the payoff wasn’t at all visible to me for about two years. But I eventually got to recognize that if I held onto my anger, rage and justifications, then I didn’t need to take responsibility for myself. I didn’t need to look at my part (I always have a part), and I didn’t need to move forward and get on with my life. I could hide all my fears and insecurities behind how this person wronged me. I could blame this person for everything that was bad in my life and all the ways I was failing. I could wait around for decades, waiting for this person to see the error of their ways and to make things right. All the while, I am in a cesspool, yelling and crying about how unfair it is, inches away from the ladder where I could climb out.
And maybe it is unfair, and maybe I have been wronged. But I’m pretty sure I didn’t come into this life to learn how to be a victim. All the trials I experience are the exact lessons I came into this life to learn. And until I get these lessons ? really get them, I’m doomed to experience them over and over again. This one has been so friggin’ painful, I don’t want to experience it again.
A few weeks ago, during a spiritual ceremony, I was blessed with a vision and an understanding. I got to bring the spirit of my “resentee” to me, and make peace on a soul level. I got to hug and hold my resentee, and through tears, apologize for my part that I can see, apologize for my part that I’m not even aware of because my ego won’t let me see it, and forgive my resentee for trespassing against me. In the ceremony, I understood that in everyday life, we aren’t able to resolve our issues right now in our human forms. But I was able to apologize and forgive in my spirit form, and make peace. I was able to feel the love between our souls, and to see that we were brought into each other’s lives so we could be each other’s teachers ? not to be enemies or adversaries, but to learn these profound lessons.
This morning, I dreamt I ran into my resentee in a restaurant. And I told my resentee about the ceremony and our souls making up. Everything seemed to be going well until I mentioned the part about us being each other’s teachers. My resentee balked at me being a teacher, and left the restaurant. I felt angry and resentful and spurned. But when I woke up, I was pleased. First of all, the fact that I had a dream where I got to be generous and loving and kind was progress. In past dreams, I was violent and crazy. But more important, this is my spiritual journey. Not my resentee’s. It is none of my business what this person thinks of me. It’s none of my business if this person is “right” or “wrong.” It is my job to do the work I’m here to do. And I don’t get to dictate the actions, feelings or spiritual evolution of anyone else. I don’t get to dictate the results either. I just get to learn my lessons and take right actions.
I’d love to say the resentment has lost its charge completely and I am totally free of it. From past resentments, I know from experience that one day that will be the case. And with all the work I’ve been doing, I’m hopeful that day is just around the bend. In the meantime, I have made a ton of progress from where I started three years ago and I’m flooded with gratitude for that. Until the resentment’s gone completely, I’m just going to keep focusing on the lessons I came here to learn and doing the diligent work to embrace them.