Resentment

I've really struggled with resentment since James and I added Wally to the family, so I picked up this book (9 Steps to Heal Your Resentment and Reboot Your Marriage), ignoring how cheesy and self-helpy it sounded. It's helped me to look at and realize a few practical things.

First, the book had me list the things I'm resentful about. I won't recap them all, but so much of my resentment has revolved around an imbalance of work load (house chores, parenting), a lack of understanding (who I am as a mom, what I needed during that first year), how parenthood has affected us differently, wanting to matter, needing personal space (taking time for myself, having more boundaries, not feeling controlled), and fear (not feeling secure in his love for me).

But when we numb the painful, we numb the positive too. So we have to feel it all.

The book highlights the fact that we can only control ourselves, so why not take control. I'm responsible for my own happiness. I'm not a victim of my marriage or of motherhood or of my own life. So instead of straining to change James, I was to practice lowering my expectations and list three things I could get rid of:
  1. Working - I plan to quit! DONE!
  2. Always being the default parent - Practice taking time for myself
  3. Buying groceries, which is something James is supposed to do - simply stop and write what we need on a list for him

A basic exercise of simply saying no. Then I was to list things just for me, like little rewards, and experiment with using them. I was supposed to come up with 25 things, and I could only list 7 at first! I think that says something right there: Do I even know what I like?
  1. Getting a massage
  2. Reading a book
  3. Meeting someone for a beer
  4. Getting a coffee alone in the morning
  5. Taking a nap
  6. Going for a solo walk and taking in the falls, the leaves, the air
  7. Cookies - eating them and baking them
  8. Snowboarding
  9. Going for a run
  10. Getting outside
  11. Writing in my journal
  12. Writing on my blog

My Non-Negotiables:
  1. Running / exercising
  2. Writing or reading
  3. Morning time

The next part was difficult. The book had me list everything I've lost / everything I miss as well as everything I've gained as a result of marriage and having kids. The goal was to acknowledge and grieve and see that getting married and becoming a mom breaks you down and rebuilds you.

What I've Lost and Miss:
  1. Complete independence - not having to check in
  2. Freedom and control - even around simple things like money
  3. Praying in bed in the morning
  4. Traveling alone
  5. Having more time with friends
  6. A strong sense of self
  7. The chase
  8. Bulk of alone time
  9. A sense of being understood - less complicated life
  10. Minimal stress and anxiety environment

What I've Gained:
  1. A constant friend - someone is always around
  2. Not being alone at night
  3. The stimulation of growth
  4. Joy - watching Wally grow and the little moments
  5. Confidence of commitment
  6. James' cooking
  7. Hugs and kisses
  8. Someone to share walks, running, movies with
  9. Joy - witnessing James be a dad
  10. Date nights
  11. Beautiful home
  12. Family trips
  13. Laughing at silly things together
  14. Having lots to write about

The next part was to list everything I could about my own family dynamics in order to recognize the patterns that have been ingrained. I realized that I'm triggered by a failure to listen, controlling behavior, unhealthy boundaries, not being treated like I matter, the not helping...partly because my dad didn't do well with those things growing up. When feeling resentful and triggered, I'm to ask what's really asking for my attention right now?

Tips I Found Most Insightful:
  1. Ask for help and for what you want.
  2. Practice saying no because every time I say yes to something I don't want to do, I'll end up feeling resentful. And every time I say yes to something, I say no to something else.
  3. Focus on three positive interactions for every negative.
  4. Write one good thing about James per day.

To sum up the message, overcoming resentment lies mostly within gratitude, what I choose to focus on, taking responsibility vs. blaming, and taking time and doing things for myself.

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