Last week I heard through the proverbial grapevine about an ex-boyfriend and his new lady.
This ex-boyfriend caused me copious amounts of intense emotional suffering. I would rather fuck Donald Trump and a strapon clad Hillary Clinton at the same time than ever talk to this ex-boyfriend again. Yet upon hearing this news, I felt bitter heart beats vibrate deep inside my chest. Boiling blood bubbled in my veins. I felt bitter and my skin blazed with the fire of red hot resentment.
For a moment, I could not help but think back to how special this man made me feel in the beginning of our relationship, how convinced I was upon falling for him that I had finally found a great and lasting love. But more than anything, I found myself outraged at the thought of him deceitfully enchanting another lady. When I imagined him gushing his beguiling charm on another woman, my insides effervesced like an Alka-Seltzer tablet.
Yet as my innards churned and roiled, I also thought back to some shit my therapist said about resentment and vengeance. My therapist said these destructive feelings are actually just the result of inhibited agony, of hurt that we deny or do not allow ourselves to fully acknowledge, accept, and slowly leave behind.
When we deny our pain, it is like placing the lid on an overfilled pot; the water is bound to boil over and no kind of lid will stop the spillage. There is no going back in time to change how the pot was filled but in the mess that needs cleaned up, there is a lesson for next time.
And so for most of the past week I have attempted to expose my bitter feelings, to curiously assess why I reacted sullenly to the news that one of my exes is happy with someone new. While it is true that I would rather have the hiccups for the rest of my natural born life than get back together with this ex-boyfriend, it is also true that our relationship wounded me deeply.
Instead of adding spice to a steaming stew of resentment, I will just sit quietly and thoughtfully with the all too familiar stab of disappointment, the hurt and shock of disillusionment, the dull throb of sadness. I will breathe in these feelings and tell them hello. I will exhale these feelings and tell them goodbye. I will let go of my perceptions about how I ‘should’ feel or react. I will allow myself to acknowledge that I sustained a moral injury. I will recognize that healing is a non-linear process and that it is okay to have setbacks. I will remind myself that I am responsible for how I present myself to the world and that bitterness will negatively impact my ability to receive love from others. I will practice the mindful art of forgiveness and I will be compassionate to myself.
And when my feelings of resentment boil over, I simply must simmer down.