Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy’

Are You A Grudge Holder?

Friday, February 25th, 2011

HOLDING A GRUDGE I come from a long line of grudge holders, as I’ve discovered. My mother holds a grudge like nobody’s business. I learned from a master without realizing what I’d learned. Sadly, it took me decades to realize where it came from and then to think about what that meant. About me.

Just the other day I was yakking with some friends about holding grudges. Today the subject popped up on Twitter. Something in the air, I guess.

My mother has a sister (who I never met) who received some heinous treatment from her parents (my maternal grandparents, both of whom died before I was born). There’s no question what they did was heinous. And, to be honest, I understand why she never spoke to them again. But she also never spoke to my mother again and my mother was three at the time– my aunt was 20. My mother surely did not deserve to be ostracized just for being the child of people who treated my aunt badly. But you see, don’t you, that this tendency appears to be a family trait . . .

My mother disliked, with reason, another relative, and she spent years stewing about the many deliberate unkindnesses done to her by this person. Years. To be honest, she’s not over it. But even I, absorbing the lessons of grudge holding as a child, wondered why my mother cared quite so much. At some point, don’t you realize you’re better than the jerk and get over it?

What I learned, after far too long, was that I had internalized grudge holding. I have spent some time contemplating this. On the one hand, hey, what goes around comes around. Assholes and jerks should someday get their just desserts. Right?

On the other hand, holding a grudge takes time and effort. You have to relive the slights and injuries so you don’t forget who you’re pissed off at and why. In the case of heinous things such as my aunt experienced, the event is so life changingly tremendous you can’t forget. People really can do unforgivable things. But when someone else is just a common jerk? Wow. It’s tiring to hold a grudge. And do you really want to be keeping the Naughty list? Because if you’re not careful, the nastiness coats your soul in subtle and destructive ways. I’ve seen what it’s done to my mother.

So here’s the irony. I still hold grudges. But from time-to-time, I ask myself if it’s still worth it. Does the slight or insult still piss me off?

Mean Girls

In this really sideways way, allow me to say that yes, the writing community is a small one and it behooves a writer, published or not, to understand that putting mean things out in public may come back to haunt you. If it does, you’re going to have to accept that chickens have come home to roost. Suck it up. You were a jerk, and this is your payback.

Mean Girls – The Flip Side

If you hold a grudge, have the balls to admit it. If you’re ever in a position to decline to assist that person, you should personally understand what you’re doing and why. It’s better for your soul.

My Mean Girl Potential

There is an author who is fairly well known who, at one time, posted something extremely harsh about one of my books. It included what I believed was a personal attack and also demonstrated a disregard of authorial choice. She would have written a different book and she was REALLY pissed off that I didn’t write my book her way. Her post included CAPITAL LETTERS and !!!!!

To this day, I remember that. I remember her name. I also, to this day, continue to believe that my choice was more interesting than the one she wanted me to have made. Doh, since it was my book. It’s been quite a long time, and I still hold a grudge.

If, in some major stroke of irony, I was ever asked to blurb a book of hers (which I wouldn’t be. No one in their right mind would want a blurb from me) I would 1) make sure the request routed through my agent and 2) politely decline. Because I would probably be unable to give a fair read to her book, and also because I just wouldn’t want to. Because I am not yet free of my grudge holding ways. Because in this matter, I am still kind of mean and petty. And I am not all that happy knowing that about myself.

It gets Even Sillier

There is another author with a name that is similar to the author who was mean. I’ve never met her, but I know lots of other writers love her personally because she’s, apparently, really nice. And now I get confused between them. After all this time, I now have to spend time reminding myself which one was mean. Good gosh! Way to work the grudge. I think I am slowly moving toward a position of feeling it’s been too long and it’s no longer worth the hassle of remembering the mean girl’s name so I can never ever buy a book of hers and refuse a blurb request that will never be made.

The Future?

I do work pretty hard to separate someone’s personal opinions from the worth of the person. It’s totally OK to disagree with me. I don’t hate reviewers who hate my books. I’m well able to separate myself from someone’s opinions about my writing and to separate opinion from the opinion-giver. But mean people, well, they tend to piss people off. It’s only natural that if you’re mean, people might not like you.

So, where are you on the grudge holding scale? Did you learn from a master like I did and do you, as I do, struggle against the dark side?