I was gobsmacked.
Nobody had ever asked me that before! So of course I wanted her feedback. What she said next was so horribly offensive, that it changed my life forever.
Here is what she told me:
“Well, I have heard all that you said, but I don’t sponsor him, so let’s talk about your part.”
What. A. Bitch.
Did she not understand or care how hurt I was?! Did she not see how victimized I was by my boyfriend’s actions?
I mean seriously, wtf…
I was full of justifiable anger, resentment, and heartache. I was SUFFERING! I had turned to her in pain, looking to her for help and she was asking me about what I had done?!
It felt like a slap in the face.
However, in the next few moments, she began to explain a concept that not only allowed me to find relief from my pain, but also a way back to my beloved.
She explained to me that resentment is a wedge, and that this wedge would grow and create more of a distance from the one person I loved most in the world if I did not find a way to resolve it.
The process to resolving that resentment began with getting specific about the cause, all the ways it was affecting me, and finally, owning my part.
The key to this whole process was to explore my part, in a safe, gentle, loving way until I could get to a place of empathy for the person I was so angry with.
Empathy, you know, that awkward moment when you realize you are the asshole?
That’s the ticket.
It’s really your ticket back to relief, love and connection. I will never forget what she said to me:
“You both want to be reunited, but pride gets in the way”.
Sometimes, we have to surrender to win. Ask your higher power, God, the universe, whatever you believe in, to take your pride from you. Sometimes there are jobs only God can do.
My most favorite prayer for surrender is “God, if this isn’t your will for me, then f*ing fix me, because I can’t do it.”
(I realize how that sounds, but its okay cuz me & God are cool like that.)
The most magical shifts in my life happen when I have been able to surrender the thing I thought I wanted most in the world, including being “right”.
By the way, getting to the place of empathy is the hardest part.
The reason it’s so difficult is because we are generally focused on our own pain. Our stubborn pride and ego step in as a self preservation mechanism, but it comes at a price..resentment.
When we’re fighting with someone, we get highly emotional. Emotion then colors our perspective so that we can’t see the situation clearly. This is why an objective, trusted 3rd party is vital to helping us see our part.
Here are a few ideas that helped me:
“A problem can’t be solved with the mind that created it.” Albert Einstein
“It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.” Step 10 from 12 and 12
My own experience with this process has lead me to a place where I am 23 years into a loving, close, and treasured marriage. I still think my husband is the funniest, kindest, handsomest guy in any and every room. With kids no less! We survived kids!
So here is the 5 step process we have used:
- Identify resentments — Identify and write down why you are angry. Be specific. Write each resentment down on a separate line. As many lines as you need.
- Next to each resentment, list all the ways you are hurt by the specific cause of your resentment. Typically it will boil down to: Self Esteem, personal relationship, fear of loss, financial insecurity, etc. You will begin to see a pattern emerge.
- Your part — It is important to try to put all pride aside in order to get to the TRUTH. Remember what your end goal is. The goal here is to have a close loving relationship with someone you love and deeply care for. BE FEARLESS!! For a jump start, consider the 7 deadly sins: Pride, anger, lust, jealousy, envy, sloth, greed, and gluttony.
This is the tricky part, so some questions might be helpful to be objective and identify how you may have provoked the initial cause of the resentment.
Was I selfish, demanding, or inconsiderate of the other person? Was I being controlling or manipulative to get my way? Did I use a negative tone or words when speaking? Was I thinking about trying to be heard instead of listening? Did I consider the other person’s needs or wants in the situation?
4. Once you have written out your part, you may start to realize how you have also hurt the other person in these exchanges. We are getting to the place where all the magic happens.
I remember when I was able to finally get to the feeling of empathy for my boyfriend. I felt the weight of the shame and guilt for my behavior. I had been prideful, selfish and deliberately hurtful. When I had the courage to focus on my part, I felt horrible.
Thankfully, I had a guide through this process. A loving, trusted friend. She reminded me that I am human, with all the human frailties everyone else has. She could see how I was driven by my fears. She suggested I trust my higher power to remove my fears and that everything would be okay. She also reminded me of all the good things I brought to the relationship too. She kept me from sinking too low and brought me through to the final step.
5. Making your amends. Once I was clear about my part, it was time to go back to my boyfriend and share what I had realized about myself. Not in a groveling way, not in a self righteous prideful way, but in a gentle, patient, humble way to fully acknowledge and own my part and ask what I can do to make it right.
An apology is not an amends. It is part of the amends, but what is important is a change in future behavior, not to keep repeating bad behavior.
By the way, when I say “humble”I don’t mean humiliated. Being humble is about being “right sized”. Not overly self hating and not pridefully detached.
Being humble is having the courage to acknowledge the pain you caused, while having compassion for yourself and others. It’s about keeping an open heart and a commitment to handle things differently in the future.
It is important to note a couple of possible reactions and how to handle them.
When you address the other person with this information, often times you will be presented with the best possible reaction, love, forgiveness and an admission on their part. (And great make up sex. Let’s not forget that part.)
Here is the slippery slope — DO NOT EXPECT AN APOLOGY. EVER.
This exercise is about you taking responsibility for your actions and learning from your mistakes.
Doing this transforms you into an AWESOME human being! It is worth the growing pains, I promise.
Sometimes when you hurt someone, they are not always ready to be friends right away. Sometimes they have to go through this process themselves and it might take them longer. Making amends includes being patient and loving while they do their thing. It’s okay. We need to give others space to have a f*ing feeling!
Ultimately, if you can hold onto your lessons, change your behavior, over time the other person will soften and begin to see by your actions that you are growing and can be trusted with their love again.
To provide additional perspective, the severity of the situation matters. There are degrees of arguments. If we’re talking about a fight over the division of housework, that’s one thing. If we’re talking about cheating, well, that is much more complex, but the basic principles still apply. It still requires an amends. That’s a whole other can of worms.
This process can be painful but so is holding resentment. So is losing the love of your life. It takes courage to do the self examination but unimaginable heart connections and experiences wait for you on the other side.
Don’t wait. Be fearless. Uncover the ideas and beliefs that are keeping you from love and grow to be the person you always wanted to be.
Because in the end, all that matters in life is love.