“What have you held onto too long?”
That is the question presented to me when I opened a book of writing prompts this evening. Further, it says, “Go. Ten minutes.” Well, no matter how late in the day, and in spite of my weariness, I can write for ten minutes. About what I have held onto for too long.
I have held onto old grudges and resentments and angers…forever, I think. Definitely for too long. I wonder sometimes if I ever truly let go of anything
When I was four or five years old, my mother punished me unfairly. I was standing on the little brown wooden stool at the bathroom sink, giving my doll a bath. My mother came in, and accused me of having gotten into the medicine cabinet. She was alert to the dangers of the bathroom, as I had recently nearly cut off my thumb with a razor blade I’d retrieved from the trash can. I had not gotten into the medicine cabinet.
“I’m just giving my baby a bath,” I told her, honestly. She spanked me for getting into the medicine cabinet. Then she spanked me for lying about it.
Before I grew up, I managed to break a thousand rules, and many times got away scot-free. I think. I’ve forgotten much of it. But I never forgot the one incident when I got two spankings, when I had done nothing wrong. And, though more than sixty years has passed, I can still manage to feel a bit of resentment about it.
I remember when Brenda blamed me for something I didn’t do, when Ted got away with pinching and pulling hair, and when I didn’t get a birthday party. That’s just my childhood! Looking over my adult years, I can recall every snub, slight or expression of hostility that I encountered – or imagined that I encountered – in my whole long life.
I could write a book about my marriage alone, and all the anger that festered there. Other relationships could have a book of their own. Then, consider my dealings with landlords, medical professionals, lawyers, bosses and co-workers over all these many years.
Even though I know it’s silly to remember all that stuff, and I can laugh at myself for my long-lasting bitterness, it’s still a lot to hold onto. I could let go of all of that. And save my failing memory for the good things.