Resentment can be a seething, nagging emotion. It is not that all single parents have to wrestle with resentment (nor is it the solitary domain of the single parent) but it can get in the way of our being able to be fully present for our children, our families and our lives. The thing about resentment is that it is usually masking something else—it is a defensive emotion that keeps us from facing what is really going on. Figuring out what is buried beneath resentment can help us to heal and move on.
Resentment can be a cover-up for things like anger, shame, fear, and grief. On the surface, we are feeling put-out or as if we really wish that something hadn’t happened, but underneath that first feeling is a much more difficult emotion that has to be dealt with. For example, perhaps we were involved in a relationship that ended. After coping with the initial shock and pain, a feeling of resentment may settle in. We regret that we ever got involved with that person and we are feeling resentful of the time, energy and emotion we feel we wasted. Below that resentment, however, is something else. Perhaps we are feeling a sense of loss over the relationship, fear that we might make such a mistake again or shame over the situation. We might also be angry or hurt so deeply that we use resentment to try to deflect those emotions toward external factors.
Resentment may serve a purpose for a while and make it possible for us to function in our daily lives, but eventually it will start to wear on us. It is exhausting and unhealthy to cling to resentment. We need to dig down to what is buried beneath it and deal with those feelings. Only then will we be able to heal ourselves and move on. We might need time, good friends, or a professional counselor or therapist to help us unearth those emotions in order to begin to heal.