Confessions of a Grudge Holder
Updated: Apr 2
I am admittedly what many would call a Grudge Holder. A carrier of grudges, a curator of anger, a person who seemingly is unable to "let go" of things (or so I'm told). I remember my kindergarten classmate who tore a whole in my Arthur backpack, my third grade friend who yelled at me on the playground (for reasons I still don't understand) causing me to cry and snot into Mrs. Moore's wool coat, a mean girl in my Girl Scout Troop who teased me and told me I looked like an opossum in front of twenty other girls. These are just a mere fraction of some elementary memories that really are not traumatic at all. There was nothing awful that happened here. Nothing life-changing. Remembering these moments (and still being put off by them) is pathetic, alarming, weird, but I can't seem to help myself. They say the first step is admitting it, which I can definitely do, but how do you fix it? How do you truly, "let go"?
I'm a highly emotional person. I'm overly sensitive and tend to feel things in extremes. I don't just get a little sad, but instead feel a soul-crushing weight that works at tearing my chest in two halves. When I feel happiness, I often get very silly and hyper, so much so that I may irritate those around me without realizing why. With my obsessive tendencies and passionate nature, I had long ago given up on experiencing anything in moderation. Is that healthy? I mean, probably not. I think it's important to realize your flaws.
But how much of this can I really help? What parts of this is nature, and what is me simply being a little shit-head? I tend to relate my grudge-holding with my anxiety. I am plagued with small hands etching painful messages into my brain. Whispers of "They're mad at you", "They don't like you", "They tolerate you but wish that they could just drop you." Remembering every moment when someone hurt my feelings or I felt that they didn't care for me. Or when I upset somebody else. For I am not only consumed with my own grudges, but the grudges of others. Things that I have done wrong. Words I shouldn't of said, actions that I'm not proud of, that swim around my skin, pushing into the soft of my neck until all I can do is scream to leave me alone.
I am not only a grudge holder, but a guilt holder as well. In the spirit of Christmas of uncomfortable jolly imagery, it's like I'm Santa with a red, velvet bag filled with harsh words and awkward encounters. But instead of passing them out, I'm keeping them all to myself. Carrying the bag everywhere, although it keeps getting filled more and more. It's heavy, and it hurts, but it's mine so I have to deal with it. And it's really exhausting, with no simple solution in sight.
There are many famous sayings about letting the past go. About forgiving others and yourself. And I realize by this time, it probably sounds like I must have done some really awful things. What can't she forgive herself for? What kind of monster is she? That isn't necessarily true. The things I've done are probably the equivalent of ripping a backpack themed with a beloved cartoon character--but the magnitude doesn't matter. With me, it's always the small things. The tiny things that fill in around walls and pile on top of each other. In the rooms of my mind, there isn't enough space for big things. Instead, I shove tiny thoughts and memories in because the more the merrier, really!
So I live with perpetual guilt and reminders of all the times I've felt sad and embarrassed or made someone else feel badly. I could run into someone that I haven't seen in 7 years, but recall something they said to me that put me off and still be upset about it. This! Is! Not! Normal! And I don't have the answers here. It would be nice if I could resolve this post with a universal message or some sort of idea of how to fix it, but instead, here I am. Wondering if Mrs. Moore ever got that snot out of her coat.
Maybe part of me builds my self-worth on things that people have said or done to me throughout my little life. On the inside, I still feel like a fourth grader with gapped teeth and squiggly purple glasses. A girl who really liked to read and go to museums for her birthday, and didn't feel like she had friends. My grudge holding could be a byproduct of insecurity. But hey, I'm not a psychologist. And I love that small weirdo. She was a piece of me. A strange, part of my being that I simply would not exist without.
One of my New Year's resolutions will be to practice letting things go. To forgive, forget, move on, and only choose to fill my mind with happy and important things that deserve to be there. Not the time that a jerk kid told my whole senior French class that I had fat thighs. What good is that to anyone? It was a shitty moment, and doesn't deserve to be memorialized.
So perhaps that's it--evaluating which memories are worthy of sticking around, and kicking the others to the curb. See, I may have something helpful to say after all! Because I am a 24 year old with a residence, friends, job, hobbies, and responsibilities--why the hell do I care that a girl in middle school laughed and made fun of my singing voice when I had a solo in choir? She doesn't deserve my brain space. But I might still think about it every once in a while...especially when her profile pops up on Facebook...
Okay, okay, so it's going to be a process. But I'll really try, I promise. Because holding grudges is petty. The words "toxic" and "unhealthy" also come to mind. And I want to do better. To drop my grudges and guilt in a river, and watch them rush away.
So today I'll start. I will begin, struggle, feel bad about myself, relapse, but ultimately move forward, because that's what we do. My big thighs will carry me into the future, leaving this other stuff behind. It's time to make space for new things.