The Year Of No Grudges

January 16th, 2014 | Rachel

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Home for the holidays, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina

I was sitting on the front porch of Poe’s, a popular bar on Sullivan’s Island, SC, recounting a conversation I had had with my grandmother the previous night. It was about holding grudges.

“I only hold grudges against people when they disappoint me,” I said, pausing and sipping a gin and tonic.

Then my friend Travis chimed in simultaneously with precisely my same words as I finished the thought, “Which is everyone.”

I’ve had this conversation several times over the past few months with other admitted perfectionists. We hold ourselves to impossibly high standards that we then, consciously or unconsciously, apply to everyone else.

I’ve always maintained a fairly open policy about the types of friends I want to make. I resist settling into one particular group and prefer to float somewhere in between. The benefit is being surrounded by an eclectic and diverse crowd of friends, and I take particular delight in bringing them all together. Anyone who attended one of my parties in New York could probably testify to that fact. In Sonoma, this has proven harder to do with friends scattered between Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Sonoma and Napa. Its easier for me to stay friends with people when I hop from group to group. Interactions stay casual and few expectations are formed.

Inevitably though, there comes along an individual every now and then that I connect with particularly well, and we spend more time together. This is when the problems arise.

The unfortunate truth is that at the end of the day, everyone is going to let you down. You will be misjudged, wrongfully accused, forgotten or ignored. Someone jumped to conclusions, refused to listen, failed to support you or flat out insulted you simply because they are a flawed and imperfect human being. I know this for a fact, and yet when it happens, my fragile, sentient heart shatters from disappointment.

Up until now, I’ve been stuck at this point. How do I maintain a relationship with someone who is unable or unwilling to abide by my Code of Acceptable Behavior, particularly when it is someone who has gained access to my inner circle of trust?

Formerly, the answer is immediate expulsion. Push them back out to the periphery and vow to never give them an opportunity to disappoint me again.

Ah, there it is: the grudge.

Hastily built out of anger and hurt feelings, then reinforced with a thick layer of pride and fear of getting hurt again.

The problem is that maintaining that barricade requires a great deal of mental and emotional energy. Not only does this divert energy that I can be investing into positive, productive relationships, it blocks me from moving forward in my own personal development. I recognize the harm in them, but I hold onto my grudges because it is too uncomfortable to scrape off the fear and pride that keeps me from dealing with the initial disappointment and then moving on.

That is, until this year.

I am consciously letting go of the grudges I have been dragging behind me, examining initial injury and then moving forward. As my friendships grow, I accept the fact that people aren’t always going to react the way I want them to or to behave in a way that I prefer. I am putting my expectations on the shelf and am opening my mind to the people and personalities I am going to meet. When conflict arises, there will be no automatic deportment to a prison built out of resentment and injured ego. Some relationships will naturally drift apart while others draw closer together in light of a successful resolution.

Yes, it is the Year Of Jubilee and all sins have been forgiven. Welcome to 2014, the Year Of No Grudges.

6 Responses to “The Year Of No Grudges”

  1. I think we have all had our share of shattered expectations, and of course dealt with friend or loved one and or family member disappointing us and it is as you say here no small feat to let go of grudges. But we grow as a result and are much more free. I am tipping my hat down you have arrived here and will try my hardest to go on in life without grudges, it’s just simpler, smoother, healthier. Happy New Year, Rachel!

  2. Caroline says:

    Love this – the sentiment and the self awareness! I’m in, although I think it’s a hard thing to do. Maybe it’s the effort that makes the difference, though, even when we fall short of the goal.

  3. I love that you are continually striving and growing in your wonderful life. :)

  4. Antoine says:

    Hey Rachel,
    I am the french guy, we met in treehouse yesterday night!
    Nice to meet you!
    Nice blog!

  5. Bernice says:

    oh gosh. good for you for realizing this. I couldn’t have a more similar attitude. Sometimes I wonder, does floating from social circle to social circle actually prevent me from forming a more meaningful bond? Am I doing this on purpose? I had a childhood best friend that I never heard from again after high school….and another very close friend during young motherhood that went, well as bad as you described. Our friendship didn’t survive her judgement and my stubborn ways. Once bitten twice shy? I’d like a BFF but not sure if I can get hurt again.
    Did anything similar happen to you

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