• Carmen Milligan

The Grudge - Carmen Edition

Yep, I hold a grudge. I admit it. The more I try not to, the more roots it grows. So, I've stopped trying to fight it.

In my opinion (which is the only one that counts around here), I have to be pushed pretty far before that "you are dead to me" switch flips.

Or, maybe I don't.

Hmmmm. Let's unpack this. If you mean a lot to me, or have meant a lot to me in the past, I will give you chance after chance after chance (some call this forgiveness, but forgiveness is merely choosing to overlook a wrong). You can mock me, hurt my feelings, say something untoward, etc., and I will continue to make excuses (the good outweighs the bad, and that sort of thing) until that teeny tiny word or incident just tips those scales to the other side. Then ...

<Rips sleeve and spits on the ground> You are dead to me.

On the other hand, if I have no real relationship with you and you are either mean to me (GASP!) or offend me in another way (say, telling something about me that is not true), you don't get any benefit of the doubt. If the account has had no deposits, you get no chance to withdraw. Hence ...

<Rips sleeve and spits on the ground> You are dead to me.

And I won't disparage you, gossip about you, or be rude to you. There is no point in it because you have become just like a piece of furniture or a knick-knack. You are on the periphery, but mean nothing to me. And probably never will again. Once I get to that "dead" end (haha - see what I did there?), there is very little room for redemption.

But, you will live in comfort in my grudge condominium. Since I keep grudges, I like to make sure the place where you reside in my mind is always well-stocked and remodeled every so often. There is no need to be mean about it. You're already in grudge-prison. You will never get a shout-out, be invited to an after-party, or have a seat saved by me. I will visit you from time to time because I like to review and reassess my grudges. When I determine that you still belong in grudgeland, I will tuck you all safe and sound back into your grudge box and carefully store you away until the next time.

I know, science and psychology say that this is not healthy. But, really, do they know? No one is all sunshine and rainbows, and I have no desire to try to be. Weeding a garden is not my thing, and weeding the unwanted thoughts and memories of my mind is also pretty low on my to-do list. I don't dwell on the wrongs. Once I process stuff, it's packed away. Because it is impossible to get rid of it. It is impossible.

I think people who tout forgiveness are out of touch. You never stop feeling a hurt that was inflicted. There is no shame in excising someone who continues to make you think, "Why am I friends with this person?" To be kind to them is a nice gesture, but to invite them back into your life is not quite being true to yourself. It's not putting you, your feelings, or your mental health first. You can forgive you accountant for embezzling from you, but I'm going to want that money back, and you are never going to do my books again. Is that unforgiveness? Nope. It's being smart.

Recommended reading: "How to Hold a Grudge" by Sophie Hannah.

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