“Resenting one or both of your parents for suffering (caused) is a completely normal and human reaction.” As I read these powerful words written by Lise Bourbeau, written in the context of repressed suffering that eats way like a cancer, literally manifesting decades later as a cancer, I wondered two things:
The first was why the role emotions play in our wellbeing is still so widely looked upon as psychobabble. The realization that our emotions don’t just sometimes play a role in our physical state, but rather our physical state is always a result of our emotional state was – for me – both obvious and potent as I recounted in What is Your Body Telling You.
The second thing I wondered is why there is such a stigma attached to this issue of resenting our parents in adulthood. In society we accept it as normal in teenagers, but if this resentment is such a normal and human reaction, yet it causes such unseen damage in later life, why is it not accepted as a rite of passage that people accept and openly talk about?
Looking at it from a child’s point of view, whether your parents are absent or present in your life, either way there is a high likelihood you will resent some aspect of that. If they are absent, particularly if they died, you may feel guilt for your pain and resentment. If they were very much alive and present in your life, there is also a very good chance that you will resent some aspect of who they were to you.
Parents are – in effect – the gateway to a somewhat more limited form of existence than these young ones want to lead. Learning to live in a human body requires focus, and that requires making their world small enough at each stage to gain confidence and simultaneously making it large enough to allow them to fully express who they are in that moment. That is a tricky task for anyone to facilitate.
Often we are driven in our own parenting by the things we resented (and the things we admired) about the way we were brought up, in an attempt to avoid having our children resent us. We want to be loved unconditionally yet often hold back our love in disapproval of our children's reactions at some point or another, if not as part of an adopted regime of discipline.
Seeing resentment as the thanks you get for all your hard years of parenting isn’t attractive, but if instead we were to accept it as a natural and inevitable part of our child’s development into adulthood, helping them figure out who they are and what they do and don’t want in life, it would be more palatable.
Then, who you are (in terms of the sum of your experiences and the resentments, ideas and beliefs you hold) can cause countless arguments between those co-parenting. And with your children’s unique blend of who they are, and an ever evolving social context, you are bound to trip up somewhere.
Great teachers are emerging, like Mary Willow, but an average parent may only be vaguely aware (if at all) of the various stages of development their child is going through in the years up to young adulthood, never mind have a good grasp of their role each step of the way.
As adults we either continue to carry our resentment around consciously, still berating our parent/s for who they are/what they did, or we just accept it as part of who we and they are and, every now and again, those emotions surface triggered by patterns playing out in our adult lives.
The reason Lise Bourbeau’s words were so powerful, was the dawning of a realization of the damage it causes to stuff these emotions down. I remembered the story I recounted in an article last year, about forgiveness.
The story was of a teacher who got her students to bring in potatoes. The task was to etch on each the name of the person or people who had wronged them and the hurt it had caused. Each student was then asked to put all their potatoes in a sack and carry it around for a week, it could sit beside them when they were eating or sleeping, but they had to carry it everywhere it went.
This was simply an exercise in demonstrating the sheer burden of carrying all those negative emotions. The act of forgiveness does not mean you condone what took place; it is an act of kindness towards yourself, an act of self love.
Certainly most people have emotional baggage of some sort about their upbringing. The reality is that our ‘sack’ is already pretty heavy by the time we are 8, and yet it’s a period in our life where we have the least amount of conscious memories. None the less, you will have an idea of the emotions in there as they will have attracted many many more examples to reinforce them throughout your life, accompanied by self-limiting thoughts that become beliefs.
It seems that it would be useful to consider that is normal and healthy to face resentment from your children at some point. And, conversely, somewhere in your own emotional baggage are some things you might want to really look at rather than just carrying them around.
So what do you resent your parents for? Once you bring things out into the light of the present day, the process of forgiveness can begin, your load will lighten and you will be free to live a life of wellbeing.
Knowing I’ve helped in some way through my writing means a lot - I’d love for you to like, comment on, or share these thoughts with others, or contact me directly at email@example.com, I’m always happy to help if I can. To be the first to receive these posts, you can also subscribe to my newsletter and, as a special thank you, you will receive the link to my video 3 Steps to Becoming You.
By signing up you will only receive emails from shonakeachie.com and you can unsubscribe at any time. This is a two-step process, you will have to verify your subscription by clicking the link in the email you should receive after clicking this 'Subscribe' button. If you do not receive the email please check your Junk mail, thank you.
Please note if you are using the Google Chrome browser and want to subscribe to the RSS Feed you will first need to get an RSS plugin from the Chrome Store.