Resentment is one of those emotions that doesn’t get talked about much. It’s a tricky, complicated, and poorly illuminated emotion. It’s not one of the pretty, shiny emotions like joy or compassion or selflessness.
But we all feel it. Just like we feel guilt and shame and anger and jealousy. I am going to speak about resentment because shoving it back down and trying to ignore it doesn’t help.
I am resentful that all my friends are living their lives and I can’t live mine because of my physical condition.
Yep, there I said it. It’s not pretty, is it?
Every time I listen to a friend talk about a great school project, every time I hear about their travel plans, every time they land a great new job or tell me about an adventure…every single time, I am reminded that my life is on hold and that I hate it. Every time, I am resentful that they are able to take active part in their lives while I feel like I am stuck waiting until I can participate in mine…stuck at home, alone, resting my back in bed.
Emotion is complicated: I am thrilled for my friends. I’m thrilled about their internships and their studies and their travels and I am genuinely happy that they are happy. I am excited for their adventures. I want them to share their joys with me, and I would be devastated if they felt that they could not. I am still…resentful.
So how do I handle this resentment? I make sure that I am clear with myself about the target of the resentment: I do not resent my friends, I resent my own situation. This allows me to make sure that I don’t take out my resentment on the people I love. When I speak to them, I allow myself to be happy for their achievements and adventures. I reserve the resentment for myself, when I am alone, afterwards, and I can process this resentment.
I try to remind myself of the ways in which I am lucky–and there are many–and to acknowledge that while this feels permanent, it is not. I will also have my own adventures.
And then…I take a deep breath, and I tell myself that it is ok that I am resentful. I do my best to sit with how I feel, and to acknowledge it without judgment or shame.