I hold grudges. I’m not sure when this began, but I do. I hold grudges. I don’t hold that many. And I’m not even sure I can justify the ones I do hold. But I hold them. I hold just enough to go without dropping them. They’re not heavy. They’re just there.
Years ago, I let relationship go rotten. I didn’t even know the person very well. First, they made me laugh. Over time, I realized that they were self-righteous, vindictive and catty. It’s not so much that they themselves were annoying but I definitely annoyed myself in relation to them. And when they confronted me and expected an explanation in return
– something meaningful in return – I had to figure out if I had the time to waste their time pretending. After a few never-ending sighs, I, in so many words, told them I thought it might be best if we just parted ways.
The retaliation was insane. It wasn’t dropped as I’d hoped it’d have been. My asking to let it go turned into them wanting to fight—a fight I would eventually come to lose for any energy I once had for this person had leaked through a microscopic pinhole long before that hole was made visible to them. If our relationship was a balloon, I had watched it deflate, slowly, over time and I didn’t do much to stop it from happening. Looking back, I imagine that for this person my “break-up” seemed to come out of nowhere. I am willing to take the blame for that. I should have warned them prior it finally going limp. And so it was. By the end of the fight, I no longer DIDN’T care anymore. Instead, I was pissed. I grew to shake my head in disgust when their name came up. I grew to detest the memory of them. I grew to love the conflict and once the conflict finally came to an end, I think that I missed it.
So I held a grudge. And they became the symbol of such—the aftertaste left in my mouth.
One time, someone I knew quite well left me. We even lived together for a short while. Literally, over night, she decided that she no longer liked me. While I know she had her reasons, they were never spoken to me. And by the time someone else was ready share with me her reasons, I was no longer able to hear it. Sometimes, once the initial rejection, humiliation, and sadness is gone and you’re left with the black hole where deep feelings once existed, instead of knowledge setting you free it erects a nice little concrete room.
I was left with a grudge.
And then there was the person who told a group of people we both knew about the people she hated. One was a girl from her past. The other, she met in college. And I was that person. Of course, I heard about it. And of course it surprised me. How was it I had that much creativity to make someone hate me? What had I done to deserve this title? It bothered me—not knowing. But no reason was given to me by anyone, not her, not the others. Even I couldn’t even come up with a reason enough for her hate me especially one that warranted a public announcement. Usually, I have them readily available, like the little giveaways marketers hand out every morning at Grand Central.
I held onto that grudge as well. And I cursed myself for being one of the two people she hated. I hated that title she’d given me and thought that surely there would be others she hated more. I hated knowing that she hated me. I hated that I wasn’t at the table to hear it firsthand. I hated myself for whatever it was that made her publicly hate me.
Lately, what has perplexed me is WHY I hold onto these grudges. It’s been years. One might imagine I’d be able to move on and let go of them. I have spent hours trying to figure out why I still harbor these fugitives. Holding on to them can’t be very healthy. Knowing them as one might come to enjoy the feeling of eating chocolate can’t be good for a day. And I’m starting to think that the only person I’ve ever really had the grudge with was with myself.
The funny thing is, I’m pretty sure each of these fall-outs would have gone away instantly had there been a simple conversation or an apology offered. Whether it be from me, or them, one of us could have ended the festering and birth of a grudge had there been a simple hug and a couple of words. But instead, at least for women, we sit as the martyr, believing we deserved more, an explanation, a blow to the face, something. Being put in a corner and made to feel like last year’s toy can leave a lot of resentment. I’ve decided that the feeling of being “left-out” doesn’t go away after grade school or middle school, even. I think women continue to do this until there is no one left to leave out, no third person to humiliate. (Then again, maybe I just have residual waste left over from all the times it’d happened to me.)
For me, grudges speak a language of their own. They do not consist of anger, but can be born from it. They usually don’t hold a lot of sadness, regret, or hostility, either. Though they are often what remains after all have left. They’re bruises not often seen to the human eye. And I’d rather feel angry. I’d rather feel remorseful and sad because at least those feelings end. Instead, I sit here toying with a feeling that has several sharp edges to it. Secretly and shamefully, I must enjoy the feeling because I just can’t seem to put it down.