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Resentment: The Thief Of Joy

February 21, 2018

 

“I'm SO frustrated!”

 

That is what I screamed at the top of my lungs as I stood in my kitchen in yoga pants. No one else was home. The culprit: a dirty dish pile. My husband had agreed to do them the night before {Huzzah!!}, but fell asleep on the couch moments later. His work was in a stressful season and he had very little margin. It's so understandable to skip dishes isn't it?

 

Well, not from where I stood the next morning. I'm ashamed to say that what followed the initial accusing scream was an entirely one-sided argument with my husband IN MY HEAD. It had all the juicy flavor of anger, rage, entitlement, defensiveness, martyrdom, self-righteousness and my personal pet sin....resentment. I was in it. It’s one thing to argue about getting chores done when you’re married or single and without children. It is a completely different experience when you’re tapped out by mothering and still feel like there are 100 things undone.

 

Do you know when you're in it? Resentment. It’s sneaky. It may look like patterns of the following:

− An angry drive when you're not even sure what you're angry about

− Yelling at your children in 6.0 seconds when moments ago you felt fine

− Cleaning an area of your house with forceful movements and a sense of irritability

− Constantly needing others to notice your spouse's faults and/or validate your pain

− Feeling like if the other person(s) would just change, the world would be a better place

− Little to no joy in your life roles (this one's the kicker!)

 

Professionally, I see this hijacking deep connection in the couples I counsel. Marriage partners go from being kind to one another to rude daily transactions. Children expose this like little megaphones. What was once a whisper is now a loud siren. One synonym of resentment is jaundice. Gross, right? As opposed to turning green with envy, think of it as turning yellow with bitterness. That's what it is. Resentment is bitterness, discontent, and often self righteous indignation. To be fair, in my work as a counselor, the experience of resentment can be an important signal of unjust treatment and can expose a problem. For most of us though, my hunch is that resentment comes to break down connection, store up ammunition, distance us from self-sacrifice, and all the while completely steal what's left of our joy.

 

What is the antidote? How do we connect again with joy? How do we fend off the intruder of relational jaundice? How do we embrace the humbling and loving tasks of sacrificing our independence, our rights, our sleep, our time, and at times even our needs? The answer is a bit surprising and some of you are gonna be mad at me because it’s not an easy one.

 

Kindness.

 

I'm not necessarily talking about kindness toward the people in your house or office. I mean toward YOU. You are likely juggling many needs, many roles, and often with little to no recovery. You are at times not seen for how you make sacrifices, how you planned that trip down to the one thing no one on earth would remember to pack, how faithful you are to your work, and how even now you are probably open to seeing resentment in your heart. Shame will only fuel your resentment. This is a time for courage and kindness and not self-hate.

 

We have a saying in our home: Comparison is the thief of joy. Well, resentment is too, isn't it? Got resentment? My advice is to take courage and kill it with kindness.

 

 

Leslie Bley, LPC

 

Leslie has been counseling for over 13 years and earned her MA in Counseling in 2004. She currently practices in Austin, TX and she is a mother to two wonder twin boys. Her experience as a mother helps her to connect with other moms. She runs a counseling group called Brave Motherhood where she helps moms navigate through the many challenges of motherhood.

 

 

Website: www.lesliebleycounseling.com

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