The Weight of Grudges

In a recent conversation I had with a colleague, the work I’d done in the community came up. He thanked me for all I’d done and said I made a huge difference in the lives of so many vulnerable people in the area.

This got me thinking… after I thanked him for the compliment, my reply was “I always hope to make some sort of positive dent where ever I happen to be.” I think I’ve managed to do a pretty good job of that… for the most part.

I would never say I am perfect. I am so far from it. But, I do try to be as good to others as I can without trying to figure out how our relationship will benefit me. Sometimes, this gets me in trouble or people take advantage of my trusting and generous nature.

There has been at least once, recent years, where I was not as good to someone as I could have been. I had hate and anger in my normally good heart and I ripped into them like I’d never done to anyone before. My anger got the best of me and I purposefully hurt someone without thinking about it. I wish I had slept on it, things might be different.

I had held onto my anger and hatred of them for awhile afterward. I put it in a little corner of my soul to silently stew, almost to be forgotten, only to have it flare up every so often… but what did that really do for me? Absolutely nothing. My frustration faded after some time. I put myself in their shoes for a bit, trying to make sense of the ridiculous situation we had found ourselves in. I let go of my so-called grudge because it was of no use to me anymore.

However, don’t be confused. I still believe wholeheartedly what they did to me was very, very wrong and would not wish their actions on anyone. I also know my retaliation was wrong and things were said that likely cut deep. For that I am truly sorry. 

However, I believe this person still holds a very strong grudge against me, they even appear to wish death upon me. There is denial and cover-ups by mutual friends, but it sometimes comes out just how strong their hatred STILL is for me. I’d like to bury this hatchet, but many things stand in the way- mostly ego, a grudge, (and sometimes even people) are holding us back from being civil.

If I could say one thing about grudges, it would be this: they are a weight. Grudges drag you down without you realizing it. They do not make you a better person, they also don’t make what you did the right thing, they don’t escape you from responsibility or bad behaviour. They are a waste of mind space, because admit it… it does take at least some effort to hate someone.

I do not want to be the proud owner of a violent grudge. That is why I acknowledged their wrong of me, dealt with it the way I needed to, and then simply let it go. It’s a hard thing to do, but it really makes you feel good. When you hold a grudge, I don’t think you can ever feel 100% alright because the grudge occupies a space of yourself that could be filled with happiness, but you choose to fill it with hate instead… I’m sounding very New-Age Oprah in this post. 

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For that certain person, in case you should stumble upon this post or if a mutual friend should share it with you:

You’ve probably never read this blog and maybe never will, you likely do not give a shit what I think about the past situation. You may even laugh and let this blog post fuel your grudge. I know you have not let it go and that you have an inhuman amount of hate for someone who is trying to make things right, but is unable to get around the obstacles. You may not know that I am apologetic for hurting you because of these same obstacles. You and I will never be friends and that is understandable. But, the least we can do is be civil, understanding, and forgiving with one another. I hope you can take this to heart, know that I acknowledge my behaviour as wrong and you can do the same of yours. Take a deep breath and let it all go one day. Maybe that’s the day we can make peace. I truly look forward to it one day, in whatever form peace will take between us.

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People CAN evolve emotionally, that’s one of the wonderful things about us. We can change our opinions of people, empathize, and vow to live good lives where we are decent to one another. Choice is a wonderful tool at our disposal, but we also have to choose to use it (ay’ there’s the rub). I made a choice to evolve and I am so happy I did. After all, hatred is a terrible color on me.

Okay…. end of my New-Age hippie mumbo-jumbo. But it does feel good (and a little scary) to put this out into the universe.

Whoa, I may have actually changed the world…

…or at least someone’s world.

I’ve come to the end of my contract at my job as a community outreach worker. I spent four years getting to know people, providing them with resources, helping them achieve their goals, and just kind of being a friend to people who may not have a lot of support in their lives.

This past week, it has really started to hit home how big an impact you can have on people’s lives. A group of clients threw me a surprise going away party at their house- BBQ, pasta salad, beautiful cake, gifts. I was stunned. But, it shows that not only do I care about their well-being, they care about me too. We built genuine relationships and that is a hard thing to do with people living in poverty and distrustful of the system or representatives of the systems.

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My work held another BBQ for all my clients to come say good-bye to me. I was shocked to see 30-40 people roll through to say good luck, give me hugs, and pass me very sweet cards of thanks and encouragement.

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I’ve also been getting lovely words from colleagues. Happy for me, but sad to lose me in this fight for social justice.
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So, it has really hit me… I may have actually made an impact- on people, on the community, on policy, on a city. The world, or maybe just someone’s world. That’s an accomplishment and I am proud and grateful.

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And maybe they changed me a little bit too. And I guess that’s what it’s all about. Affecting people, affecting change. Working for a common goal. Working together. Being kind. Loving one another.

Whoa… that’s heavy.

Pure Joy

I’ve been feeling really good these last couple months. It’s a welcome change from the tight, little ball of anxiety I had become over the last year.

I’ve been having these moments… I want to call them small epiphanies and they just remind me how good life actually is. They make me smile, give me a little bouncy step. I also tend to bob my head a bit- mostly because there’s generally music playing during these moments.

These small epiphanies go something like this…

♥ Walking on my residential street in the inner city
♥ Big, full, old trees swaying in a light breeze
♥ Listening to some old Joel Plaskett song
♥ Smell of lilacs, peonies
♥ Saying hi to cats sitting on their front porch
♥ People passing by walking their dogs that seem to be smiling at me

I smile, walk on. Think about how much I love this town and how good that moment feels. Just like Joel’s song says, “there’s a reason that I love this town.” Actually, there’s many reasons and they all make me smile.