I have been struggling for a while with resentment toward a family member. The feeling stems from my view that this person has unfairly treated another relative who is vulnerable and not well. If my words of caution had been followed years ago, the vulnerable family member would be in a much better situation, of that I am convinced. Nothing that my sisters or even my wife say can convince me that I am wrong.
Sometimes I feel tied up in knots. Some nights I can’t sleep. When my views on the matter are challenged – even mildly – I lash out with sharp words. Why can’t anyone see that I am right? Why is my opinion always ignored? My wife says that I am harming myself by holding on to these feelings. But if I don’t stand up for the vulnerable relative, the unfair one will continue to behave badly and selfishly toward that person.
I can’t help but wonder if one reason that my family ignores my input is that I am physically challenged. There is nothing wrong with my intellect, never has been. Yet, this thing with the family member who is unwell just reminds me of all the times that my opinion did not seem to count. My wife says that my problem is that I am always convinced that my view is the right one and that I don’t accept contradiction from other people, particularly from family members. She likes to remind me that other people have the right to their opinions, and that I need to learn to compromise.
I just don’t know.
The other day, my wife said that I am the embodiment of what is happening in the U.S. Congress. Instead of working on compromises and moving forward with good governance of the country, little groups within both parties are holding steadfast to their platforms, not giving an inch, and gridlocking lawmakers. Compromise is seen as capitulation, in other words, losing (as if in a military battle or a game). Meanwhile, the country suffers.
With all the bleakness in my personal life and in the outside world these days, I live in fear, anxious, unsure of the future. Sometimes it seems like these dark clouds will never lift, and I don’t know how much more of this I can take.
Other times, I can enjoy a walk in a park and be soothed by the many shades of green of the trees and grasses. I can watch the ducks glide on the surface of a serene lake with crystal-clear water. I can feel enveloped by a temperate breeze under the summer sun. I like to ride through the park just before sunset and count the graceful deer that emerge from the thicket to munch on the vegetation.
I like to think back on the ponies with bloated bellies that live on the barrier island of Assateague (bordering Maryland and Virginia) and how they plop themselves down in the middle of the road, not caring that they are blocking the park-run tourist bus. Or I remember the beautiful squirrel, all snowy white, that I was surprised to see on someone’s lawn once.
I know that resentment can eat away at you, like a piranha in your belly. I know that nothing good comes from resentment and that awful, evil actions often do. I mean, I know someone who was blinded due to another’s resentment, and someone left penniless and homeless because of resentment within the family.
I just don’t know what would happen if I gave up my resentment.