Sometimes I really enjoy righteous indignation and hurt feelings. I’m not proud to say that.
But sometimes I do.
I can actually enjoy the feeling that I’ve been wronged. I can roll it around in my mouth and savor it, enjoy the bitterness as I swallow it, enjoy the closing down of my heart, enjoy feeling completely justified with this anger, this hurt.
I can even get attached to that feeling and to telling myself over and over the story of my victimhood, of my being wronged. I can wake with that feeling and carry it around with me all day, taking it out to look at it again when I have a free moment, refreshing my hurt and my anger. I can take it to bed with me at night and replace my gratitude prayers with it, my new “prayer” becoming the retelling of my story of how I was wronged, how I still am wronged. Or how I’m forgotten. Or neglected. Or lied about. Or cheated. Or any number of ways in which I am the blameless (or almost blameless) victim.
There are myriad different stories of my victimhood.
And I can enjoy each one and its retelling for a seemingly infinite number of times.
And you know what? I have a feeling I’m not alone. All I have to do is look around at our world.
And then I have to realize my way to help change the world is to change myself.
In a post this past fall, I wrote about how I had put down the boulders of resentment. That is how I started disengaging from my stories of victimhood. When I feel that resentment again, when I feel myself retelling those stories or starting new ones, I stop.
I stop, and I remember how much better I felt when I woke that morning and realized that my resentments were mostly gone.
I remember how much lighter I felt, how my heart felt more open, how I felt happier, more free. And how I still feel that way.
So now, when I feel myself being drawn into that old pattern of enjoying my victimhood, I stop. I may already be starting to feel that old pleasure of starting one of those resentment stories.
But I stop.
Because I know how much better the pleasure of love and forgiveness and openheartedness feels than the ugly, sticky, stinking, rotten, festering pleasure of anger and hurt feels.
And when I stop, I acknowledge my progress toward being a person who is free of anger and resentment and grudges.
I am not that person yet, but I get closer every time I choose to disengage from those negative feelings and hurtful stories.
Yes, it’s a long path. And I find myself much too often bending over to pick up resentment.
But I’m catching myself and putting it back down.
Because, really, who wants to walk next to a person carrying a big old load of victimhood and resentment?
And I’ve decided that I don’t want to be that person anymore. I don’t have to be. I have a choice. I can change.
And so I am.