I hold grudges.  I know that it’s a particularly flattering thing to say about oneself, or a particularly healthy way to live, but I have to admit it’s true.  The topic has been coming up in conversation and in movies I’ve recently watched, so the issue has been on my mind lately.

Now, when I say I hold grudges, I don’t mean that the guy that cut me off in line at Costco 12 years ago is still on the list, but he was Public Enemy Number One for at least a couple of hours, if not a day or two.  Anyone can get cut off in traffic or have someone inadvertently splash them with puddle water while walking after a hard rain.  Shit happens.  There are too many of us rats in the cage of Earth to not rub up against one another in a bad way occasionally.  Some insults are completely innocent, or are born of differing cultures or someone just having a bad day.

Generic slights like those don’t quite stick in my craw like a good, old-fashioned, personally crafted insult or misdeed.  The closer the person is to me, the more trusted, the longer I will probably hold the grudge.  A non-serious boyfriend who treated me badly on several occasions was pretty easily dismissed, but I am still annoyed that he made fun of me behind my back on several ocassions, and to my face often.  Hey buddy, you are dating me, you are supposed to have my back, not chuckle behind it.  I was humiliated when I found out that he and our boss at the time were both standing behind me and giggling while I was filing, because I had an unfortunate plumber’s crack moment going on.  Now, I do have a sense of humor about myself, but laughing at me WITH the boss, and neither of them ever pointing out the reason?  Then telling that story to my cousin while we were out having drinks so she could meet him?  Jerkwad!

The real deep grudges, however, come from family grievances, and best friend betrayals.  My one aunt wounded me deeply by accusing me of stealing from my grandmother’s home. I stopped by there after she passed, on to have a cup of coffee at the little table where we always sat together, and remember her.  I was so shocked that my personal moment of reflection on my beloved Nana was misconstrued as an opportunity to “case the joint”, I just never got over the accusation.  My aunt is dead several years now, and I still have a terrible feeling when I think of her.  I do also remember her being one of the few aunts who sometimes gave me presents, and knit a really nice afghan for our family that I still have somewhere.  I wish that her several cruelties after Nana died didn’t overwrite the couple of nice memories I had of her, but I felt like her true colors were revealed in those days, even if they were clouded by her own pain, and I can’t think of her now without thinking of her as cruel.

My childhood bestie, Marie, wounded me to the quick several times. Of course, with any long-term close female friendship, there will be arguments and slights, and I don’t think that those things were even close to grudge-holding.  I now understand why she left me out of plans with mutual friends at times – but at the time, it hurt to be left out.  There were cutting comments about the peach dress that I thought was so pretty, and the negative assessments of my college friends, and so many tiny insults. She sure could have used some courses in diplomacy, but they weren’t the real killers.  However, relating stories of negative things that her boyfriend said about me?  Passive-aggressive and hurtful.  Sharing sensitive secrets with other friends when she was annoyed with me?  Those should have gone to the grave, girl.  Letting me hear her tell her mother to tell me she wasn’t there to get the phone when she no longer wanted to be friends?  Yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that one.  Death by a thousand little cuts with that friend.  The unfortunate part is that I cannot think of her and immediately remember the good times. 

I know, I know, it’s not hurting the people on “my list” one bit that they are there, or that memories of them are clouded by the negative times instead of the good ones.  I suppose it would be nice if I could pull out the brain bleach and get rid of them altogether, but the good and the bad together make up the sum total of our experiences and hopefully teach us how to not make the same mistakes over again.  Have some of my unfortunate grudge-worthy experiences made me a little more cautious about making friends or letting people get too close?  Yes, that is true – but what I learned is that trust is earned, and that if you feel like you are being victimized by someone, stop behaving like a victim.  Those grudges remind me of things that I will not let happen to me again, or at the very least, that I won’t let happen to me over and over with the same person.

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