By Emily Belnap
Does resentment resonate with you?
For me, it’s that icky, awful, angry, “why do I have to do it all myself?” feeling. This feeling is so familiar to me–I’ve known it since I was young and desperately trying to help my single, working, tired, busy mom run a household. The feeling continued as I became a college girl, and I wondered why I seemed to be the only one interested in keeping the apartment clean. The feeling crept into my marriage and my mothering, and has manifested itself in a myriad of ways. It’s more than a feeling really—it gets so heavy at times it can seem as if I have another small child to care for. It’s dark, draining, demoralizing and can even become debilitating. Resentment makes it easy to believe “I can’t do one more thing!”
But is that really fair to my loved ones or to me?
In my defense, the feeling was born of my diligent efforts and deep desire to serve my family and friends which I have always been eager to do. Nevertheless, I learned young that if I wanted something done for myself or for my family, I was the obvious choice to complete the task, especially with an absent father and a busy mother. I confess, too, that relying on my own strength and ability was much easier than reaching out to others and facing the potential disappointment that might follow.
Sadly, my good intentions to serve and my “get it done” spirit were deeply buried by the load I’d created for myself in trying to take on the world on alone. Consequently, the joy of serving others was replaced with cold, hard, empty resentment.
Resentment is powerful fuel for the “Crazy Ladies”. Ramona describes these un-ladylike women in Chapter 9 of her book Wife for Life. Ramona’s “Crazy Ladies” include (but are not limited to) Ashamlee, Irreleva, Betraya, and Depressa. I’m certain you’d resonate with some or even all of them…
I know I did.
Initially, my resentful self resented being called a “Crazy Lady”, but I definitely recognized myself all over those pages. My heavy, “extra child” told me that I didn’t have the strength to battle my “Crazy Ladies”—it was too much effort. How could I really be expected to do more?
But my resentment was wrong.
First, the change came within me and my own perceptions. I recognized how much my “I can do it all alone” attitude was alienating my husband—preying on his fears of uselessness. I saw how my attitude had created a monster—a husband who felt useless and never wanted to help me because I never allowed him to do so, and a wife (yours truly) who felt so burdened, alone, and tired that some days felt impossible.
Slowly and succinctly I concentrated my efforts on including my husband more often in my life and in the lives of my children. I applauded his efforts, no matter how small, to serve us and work hard for us each day. His confidence in his ability to serve us grew and, as a result, my confidence and trust in him grew immensely.
This engendered respect for him in my heart, which inspired me to trust him even more and subsequently share more of my life with him.
The real miracle is that I didn’t set out to rid myself of resentment. I was only trying to improve my marriage. But recently I have realized that I have more energy each day and more joy in life now that I’m not trying to take on the world alone. I make an effort to be mindful about including my husband in all areas of my life; I consciously strive to go through life with my husband–as a cohesive team. No more “I can do it all by myself” mentality. (OK, sometimes I slip, but I’m REALLY trying!)
And you know what?
My resentment has morphed into rejoicing—rejoicing in the beauty of our newfound husband-and-wife team; we now support each other as we participate in life together. I rejoice in the respect I feel toward my man who is now more needed by and useful to me than ever. I rejoice in the time he spends with my children—the time I not only let him have with them now, but encourage them to have together. And I celebrate the freedom I now feel to live, love and serve…rejoicing!