When I was younger, I took a lot of pride in my ability to hold a grudge better than most people I knew. I was (okay fine – still am) extremely stubborn, and when a friend, relative or pretty much anyone pissed me off, I could go months, and even years, without speaking to them. Sometimes my grudges went on for so long that I eventually forgot what I was even angry about. But it didn’t matter, because it was the principle of the thing.
It helps that I’m a master at the silent treatment technique. I learned early on that completely ignoring someone can make a person furious, embarrassed, hurt and confused all at once. I was super proud of the fact that I could look right past a former BFF or ex-boyfriend as if they didn’t even exist – and I have no idea why. It took maybe the hardest lesson of my life so far to remind me that holding a stubborn grudge like that is completely pointless and so not worth it.
A few years ago, I started casually dating a guy (Z) who I had known for a while. Z was exactly my type and we had a ton of fun together. But even though we liked each other, things didn’t work out. Z had recently gotten out of a long relationship and wasn’t looking for a girlfriend. Our relationship got a little bit complicated, and when Z ended things, I was really upset. Even though I knew in my heart we were better off as friends (we just weren’t clicking as a couple), I felt hurt and a little embarrassed, and I did what I do best when I feel vulnerable – I got mad.
Z wanted us to stay friends, and I honestly wanted that also – but first I had to prove my point. When I saw him talking to another girl in our usual hangout spot, it was all I needed to start a grudge. From then on, I started ignoring Z completely. Even when he walked right by me, staring at me, I would look the other way and pretend I didn’t see him. I trash talked him to every person who would listen and purposely avoided going places if he was there.
No matter how nasty I was, Z still tried to get my attention by apologizing multiple times, trying to catch my eye whenever he saw me, liking my posts on Facebook and even saying “happy birthday” to me on my b-day. That was just the kind of person Z was. Even though he knew I was still angry and even though he knew I was unnecessarily being a total brat, he was still nice to me whenever he had the chance to be.
I planned on forgiving Z eventually. I had elaborate daydreams about running into him somewhere around town and things falling back into place for us. It wasn’t that I wanted us to be a couple (although I wouldn’t have minded that), but it was more that I wanted us to go back to being friends, maybe even close friends.
Unfortunately, I waited too long. I held my grudge for almost a full year, despite the fact that I met someone new. There was absolutely no reason for me to continue to ignore Z, but I did. And then something horrible happened – Z died in a car accident, and any wish I had of us becoming friends again flew out the window.
When it happened, I was devastated. Actually, devastated doesn’t even begin to cover it. I can’t explain the regret and guilt I felt, and still feel, every day. My last memory of seeing Z was bumping into him a few months before he passed away at our usual hangout spot. When our shoulders touched, I acted like it didn’t happen – but Z looked right into my eyes and gave me an “I’m sorry” look. That could have been my chance to put our fight behind me, and to start being friendly with him. But I didn’t take it. I thought I would have so much time to make things right with him, and nothing could have been further from the truth.
Getting over Z’s death has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It’s been a little over a year, and I still feel a terrible amount of regret that will probably never go away. I wish so much that I had been mature enough to forgive him. Z was truly a wonderful guy who could have been a good friend to me, if I let him, but I was too busy being mad over nothing to give us that chance.
The only good thing that has come from this experience is that I’ve stopped holding grudges. Now when I get mad at someone, I accept their apology and move on. I might not always go back to being friends with the person, but I do let go of my anger. I don’t give them the silent treatment and I apologize for anything I’ve done wrong. I know now that someone can disappear at any minute, and I never want what happened with Z to happen with anyone else. I would do anything to be able to make things right, and I hope that somehow, he knows that.
Do you hold grudges? Are you doing it right now? Has something similar ever happened to you? Tell us about it in the comments.