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Resentments: Getting Rid of Them — 21 Comments

  1. Dear Al
    Thank you so much. This made my day and made me smile.
    1. Old enough to be in charge of my own healing – 35. I went to boarding school from 12-17 and from discussions with my friends I think this messes up what would be a gradual maturation and leaves some aspects of the parent-child relationship stuck in childhood and some adult-adult before their time. I am beyond expecting healing from my parents, but the Bly story really helped me to articulate what I feel is missing and would love to receive from someone else. I'm still a little confused that my parents are expecting healing from me! I love what you wrote about “seducing”. That is exactly what it feels like. (Yay! Validation! Empathy! Thank You!).
    2. Re-reading… I've been a follower for many years. I think I do well at this, but sometimes I falter when it feels like I am being punished for defending my boundaries.
    3. I wrote something whiny and then deleted it. I get it – my responsibility. I just never thought it would be this extreme. OK, I can't help myself… this is the example. I wrote to my father, 'Please leave me out of the argument you are having about the division of property between you and Mom. It's your property: divide it between the two of you.' He wrote back 'You are a beautiful girl. Please stop lusting after a free ride.' So I protect my boundaries, and sometimes the reaction is pretty violent.
    4. I lived 2400 miles away for ten years. Then I moved to London, UK 🙂 I am amazed by the intensity with which they can pursue me via Skype and email (I banned Skype and limit the emails). So not facetious – a strategy I have implemented with zeal. It's lovely to hear you suggest this as a healthy action – emigrating is SO much less exhausting than the confusion involved with relating to parents.
    In summary: read Master/Slave and Passivity, expect nothing from them, maintain boundaries, and on no account move within 700 miles of them until I feel more secure about boundary maintenance or they shift to adult-adult… did I get you?

  2. Dear Sarah, Here are some thoughts that hit me as I read your posting.
    After reading Par.1: I wondered how old you were. The stuff your parents did when you were a kid, both good and bad, seems to me will always be with you. The challenge is to grow up and be happy inspite of the “bad.” My rule is “My parents did their best. Their best was pretty awful at times. Now I have responsibility to fix things up. They have none.”
    If Dad wants to repair a bridge, good for him. But that doesn’t sound like what he is trying to do. I know it’s his best, but I imagine he is trying to disrespect your reality and “seduce” you back into the fold. Well, that’s a bit harsh, but I’ll leave it.
    Glad you like my piece.

    After reading Par.2: I think you are on track. I suggest you read all about Master/Slave, Passivity on my website. It is vital that parents be the adults when a kid is a kid. At this point, as an older successful person, I would shift it to “it might be nice,” and then start using boundary skills to stay away from their attempts to make you the “responsible one.”

    After reading Par.3: Yup, add people into your life that know about validation and can treat you with respect. My thought. “Global forgiveness” sounds like BS. While I think it is a parent’s responsibility to listen to their kid’s troubles, lots of parents, even my own, weren’t/aren’t able to do that. Find friends or a therapist or a counselor or someone, to be on your team.
    Having parents who will not respect your boundaries is a simple problem. They don’t have to. I believe no one has to respect your boundaries. You have to protect/manage those boundaries yourself from them. Your boundaries, I believe are your responsibility – always (after age 8 or so).
    Feeling resentment about what happened to you as a kid is utterly normal. Feeling resentment about people who will not hear your side is also pretty healthy. I focus you back on my paper on Boundaries.

    After reading Par.4: Well I hear your question. What to do about dad? Personally, I believe we are all designed to heal from the damage in childhood, but through our relationship with a peer, not with our parents. We are not here for their gratification, I firmly believe. To be a bit facetious, I would suggest moving to the other side of the country from where they live. The principle is sometimes spoken of as a “7 and 7”: seven hundred miles away for seven years. Then recontact them and see where things are. The confusion involved with trying to relate to parents can be exhausting.
    I believe an awful lot of people feel a lot of resentment about the short comings of the parenting they received. And they have a right to those feelings. Still they gotta do something about it. And getting your parents to “grow up” doesn’t seem to work.
    Just my thoughts. Good luck.

  3. Al, thank you so much for this article. I've spent the day emailing back and forth with my father who wants to 'leave all that in the past'. I've also been rehearsing arguments with all the people who have been telling me to forgive him, for my own sake, even as the attacks continue. I have told these people that it does not feel safe to forgive him because the boundary violations continue. So it's a relief to read this, and especially the Robert Bly story, and feel validated about how strongly I want my father to acknowledge the broken bridge and how he has contributed to it.
    Both of my parents make me incredibly powerful, and have entrenched scripts about how I hurt them, and I want to say 'will you please be the grown ups'. When I am visiting them and I want to meet my cousin for coffee, my mother tries to stop me from leaving the house until I have had an Imago dialogue with her about how she feels left out that I have not invited her too.
    With parents like that it's not surprising that I'm all high functioning and independent, and I really long for more people – actually, just one person might be enough – to validate the confusion and pain of having parents who do not respect my boundaries, and who try to get me to parent them. So thank you for helping me to make sense of the resentment I feel.
    I have one question: my father seems to be trying to connect with me, but he avoids responding directly to incidents that I tell him hurt me. So he's asking for global forgiveness and not responding to specific hurts. My guess is that maybe he is trying to avoid a bigger pain, which could be shame about his behaviour in our relationship, but of course that is just a guess… I'm starting to feel mean, like I am pursuing him down a rabbit hole by trying to pin him on these specific incidents, but anything less than that feels false. I think there's also lots of excuses (saying he didn't have the money or the time…) and not a lot of actually taking responsibility (for his relationship with money and time). So do I just keep presenting the specifics to him, or is there something else I could try?

  4. I think a behavior change request can be optional if you learn to seperate the trigger from the reaction behaviors in the chain of events that lead to invalidation and resentment in yourself.
    If the reacting partner can learn fully that they can control their own “stuff” (the reaction behaviors), then I see no reason why resentments have to build. If you stop the cycle of blame, and work to keep your reactions from invalidating your partner, then you can also learn to diffuse tension by healing your reactions and making them less intense (ie. removing the “wound”).
    It takes a spark and some tinder to create an inferno. Remove the tinder and the spark causes little destruction.

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