The Forgiveness / Resentment Two-Step

Last Updated: 27 Dec 2018

The ongoing process of forgiveness and resentment is like no other, but with work, you can get closer to acceptance and relief.


I recently ran across an uplifting document. It was one of those lists, the kind that leave you dumbfounded, that makes it all so clear in a succinct, well, list kind of way.

What spoke to me, the topics-du-list, were resentment and forgiveness. At least, that’s what hit me between the eyes in the article. Like a country line dance, I saw myself move over this imaginary line, back and forth, resentment, back, forgiveness, forth. And take it from the top—forward and back, resentment and forgiveness, just like a two-step. Step backward, resentment, and forward, forgiveness.

This line I envision is the process I go through—and it can be with anything—that I have trouble with. Usually, this dance is with my writing. The emotional process of forgiving and handling resentments is like no other.

Resentments are like tiny Legos that a child absentmindedly picks up and plays with. They can turn into an over-flowing tub of recyclables, long past the pick-up date, if I don’t forgive.

Forgiveness … I have forgiven myself for my past. However, forgiving others over my mental illness abandonment wounds has proved far more difficult and has taken longer.

Why is that?

I have forgiven my biological father who left when I was six months old. I have forgiven the men that assalted me. Yet I haven’t forgiven—all the way—the one family member that holds my illness against me. This is the one that gets me.

I try but as hard as I do, it’s never final; it’s a process, like the two-step, or like washing your hands. I do it over and over, and then the dirt creeps up again. I wash; it’s back. And I wash it off again. I stare at my hands and wonder what I did wrong.

Am I am getting closer to letting the hurt go? Yes. And each time I get closer, I feel better about my progress. It is more in focus as I get older, and surely this must mean progress, but I realize people are limited. I understand that some people are black and white and I cannot change their perspective or opinions. But then I slide backward into the other school of thought: this illness isn’t my fault! Why am I the forgiving one? The answer I arrive at … Because I want sanity.

I’m sure other people with a mental illness are dealing with this, too. My happiness is incomplete and peace and serenity hinges on acceptance of other people as they are.

Usually in my life, I’ve found the greater the pain the higher the reward and complete freedom sounds pretty darn good to me! But it’s definitely work. Riding on a horse into the sunset simply by jumping on one sounds glorious, but…let’s face it, not very realistic.

I have to change my attitude. While I think the other person needs to change, they won’t. People are who they are, just like when you get into a relationship. Lord knows my partner is stuck with my attributes, the good and the bad.

For now, I have to work on my own attitude. I talk to my mom and my partner and God a lot. It helps, but ultimately the change has to come from me. Acceptance, my attitude, realizing that some people are just ignorant, for life maybe, that’s okay. It is what it is, as they say. My need to stand around and wait for someone to accept me is futile.

While I wouldn’t change anything about my life—except winter depression, and okay, August and September mania—I like my life. I like who is in it and I’m okay with who is out. Sticking by people who love and accept you is the kind of thing that is good for your soul.

My friend once said she gets such relief when she forgives someone. After a weekend with old friends and forgiving one of them she reported feeling lighter. She said, “Who can I forgive next?” It got me thinking. Who do I have left on my list? When I think I’m in the clear, someone always surfaces, reminding me of the work I have yet to do.

Who can you forgive today? Is there anyone on your list too?

About the author
Wendy Williamson had her first manic episode while studying at Virginia Tech, eight weeks before graduation. It was then she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type I. After being downsized from corporate America, Wendy wrote her memoir of honesty and hope entitled I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar. She co-wrote her second book: Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival: Tips for Living With Bipolar Disorder with author Honora Rose. Wendy writes for and The The Huffington Post. She has written for: BP Magazine, Bipolar Disorder for Dummies: 2nd Edition and The Two River Times. Her book has been reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly and National Alliance on Mental Illness’ The Advocate. Wendy is the founder of The Red Bank Writers Group and has been interviewed on over forty radio stations worldwide. Catch up with Wendy on Twitter and at her website.
  1. I know this dance all too well and I am sick of it! I have had one of the worst years of this so-called life and while I have weathered storms such as being an alienated parent, assaulted by the babymamahorror twice and raped by a corrupt Family Court system in the past. I was in my last relationship with a female (2016/17/18) and by last I mean last ever. I will not get involved with another female again other than a sexual relationship and that’s where it will end. I though being with someone younger would be better because they aren’t as fvcked up as ppl my age. Boy was that a mistake! To me this generation is so fvcked up it makes me think I am not as fvcked up as I thought. I am so glad that I didn’t have to be brought up in the social media circuit. Needless to say I have forgiven this female because what she did to me only hurt herself pretty much for the rest of her life and that of her newborn child that is not mine (thank God). That is the only way I can look at it that I dodged a bullet with that one, but I came with such loss and sadness that took me to places that I have never been with my history of bipolar. I just don’t understand how ppl can be so bold and cold at the same time. its like a stupid oxymoron and a bad joke all in one. I have forgiven this female cause we all make mistakes and she is too young to know the difference. She became toxic and I tried to hold it together but there were just too many things happening at that point and when she got pregnant by someone else it was time to bail cause this boat was quickly sinking. Now mind you I was in the DR when all this was going on. Alone left with my own suicidal thoughts in a place that I was barely in for a year surviving the three major storms that destroyed parts of the Caribbean and PR and had to get out of or my family was gonna be importing a body within a bodybag. After a one month stint in the crazy ward to get back on medication because of the bipolar depression and stabilize. It was hard, the last time I cried everyday several time a day was when my brother was murdered. My rationale was if I 86ed myself I would be reunited with my brother again cause I never really got over that disaster and that looked very fine to me at the time. My pain would end and I would see lost loved ones again. What could be so bad? I could give a Fvck for the ppl left behind. None of that would be a concern for me any longer considering I am not a concern for anyone now so Fvck em was my mentality. I would move on freely without a care in the world. It changes from day to day now. It’s not all doom and gloom anymore but that forrest is still in my view to walk threw anytime I choose too. Before I didn’t think I would ever get out of those woods, now they are never far away. Before I could burn that woods down, now I have very little power to do so and that is something that will always be just out of reach never out of sight. I know that what I speak of is still pretty taboo in a manner of speaking, but its different for everybody who has to be mental illnesses whipping boy/girl. If I could go back and change it I would. I would change everything. I would never had had children and I would never have got that bitch pregnant if I knew she was gonna change the way she did. I am much better than I was a year ago or its just something I have learned to deal with like the murder. If I could change places with my brother given the choice, there wouldn’t even be a discussion about it I would just say take me instead and thank you letting him live. I cry now as I try and type this shit through blurry eyes and I hate it. Just sayin thats all.

    1. Gosh, John I feel for you. I have had survivor’s guilt (not sure if you’ve had or have that) and so sorry to hear your sufferings. (I have never any luck dating outside my generation btw…it sucked!) I’m glad you feel out of the forest and got help in time, but it is still there. That’s depression to me, that the option exists. BUT, I look back on my life and all that ha happened since the shit show of my worst depressive episode when I barely (literally) got off the tracks in time and can say, don’t. If not for your kids sake, or yours, live in your brother’s honor. He didn’t get to make the choice of live or die. His was made for him. You can live and go through some pain but also have incredible joys when one day you might be typing hope to someone else on your phone hoping they choose life. Make it my friend. You can. You will. The alternative makes no guarantee we will ever see our loved ones again. That bought stopped be from jumping 45 floors at a hotel in nyc…. what if doing this prevents me from seeing my family again. The truth is we don’t know. Without a guarantee, I’m never going to complete it and made that promise, as long as she is alive, not to kill myself. It is not a lot of pressure anymore. It’s a 20-25 year contract I made with myself. Does life suck? No. Are parts of some days unpleasant? Yes. Is the winter when I hand on for dear life and feel tortured at times by my mind? Yes but I owe it to myself to fight and continue to see where it will go. I hope you find something in here comforting. I understand mistrust. I have gotten burned too. Fine, stay away from a relationship, but someday someone will captivate you. People are inherently good. ?

  2. First of all, when it comes to August/September mania, all I can say is “Oh, me too!” Then the bottom falls out, and here we are. As for forgiveness; some people I find I have to forgive repeatedly because I find myself dealing with a new aspect of that “injury”. Someone else said that forgiveness isn’t for the person who hurt you, it’s for you. That is absolutely true, but here is something else that we sometimes forget. Just because we forgive the person who hurt us does not mean that we stop having to deal with the consequences of the hurt. A few years ago, my son accidentally backed over me with his car. It devastated him, and I (of course) immediately forgave him. It was an accident. However, I will live probably for the rest of my life with a limp and a nasty scar on my shoulder.

    As a means of working through my own issues, as well as offering hope to others, last month, on my blog, I told the story of how I was sexually assaulted as a child, by my step father. Please understand, this was no great revelation. Everyone in the family knows about it (I was not the only victim, but I was the one who told). However, my sister (his natural child) has stopped speaking to me because I said all those terrible things about her dad publicly, and he’s dead and can’t defend himself.

    I was shocked and heartbroken at her reaction, while still trying understand it. As for forgiveness? For me it will probably come when the shock wears off.

    1. Thank you, Connie. Awful to hear of the car accident and resulting health but forgiveness is, yes, a must right? And I feel peaceful, oddly, knowing someone else suffers the Aug/Sept mania. There are many of us but for someone to comment on the article, the thought, my pattern, makes me know I’m in good company. Sorry for all your suffering….

  3. Hi.Forgiving others is easier for me.I try to discern what is my part and what is theirs ina conflictual relationship or situation.I respect that people have boundaries and all different reasons for choosing to “leave”,”blame” etc.It still hurts,but I am realistic that I have done ,said or not done or said things I cant take back.Forgiving myself for my past …another ball game.I have huge regrets and remorse.I have alienated important people in my life eg my kids.I dont see it as “simply” illness behavior that was out of my control.How I did or didnt manage my illness behavior,immaturity,self centred self absorbed focus (common with our illness)…all played a role.I never intended to hurt or upset or “neglect” people,but fact remains, that was the outcome they felt.This is a weight around me.I wish it was lighter.

  4. This article really hit home.I have been struggling with my issues with my mom for a long time now and it drains me emotionally to the point that my depression has gotten really bad. She doesn’t understand or believe that I am bi-polar and have anxiety issues. I have handed out the olive branch so many times only to get slapped with it over and over. I have excepted the fact having a mental illness is not my fault and am sick of being the person who apologizes for something that is out of my control. We have not spoken for months, however she did call a few times in the last few weeks but I haven’t called back cuz I don’t even know what to say. She used to be my best friend and it hurts not having a relationship with her anymore. I know that I need to watch how I react to others actions and have doing pretty good with that except she seems to enjoy pushing my buttons….I pray alot about this cuz she is getting older and I don’t want to lose her when I resent her so much. All I want is her to except me they way I am and be there for me….I am tired of carrying this around it’s taking a toll on me. I just want the hurt in my heart to heal.

  5. When I forgive others, its not for THEM. It’s for ME.

Load More Comments

Leave a Reply

Please do not use your full name, as it will be displayed. Your email address will not be published.