If I am completely honest with myself, I can admit that I resented my son’s father for quite some time. We both had a part in making our son, yet he gets to go off and just live his life as he chooses while I had to become a full-time parent and caregiver. I felt that I had to put all of my dreams and goals on hold to be a parent, while he had to do nothing at all. I would replay the feelings of betrayal and frustration that I harbored in regards to our relationship and his lack of involvement with our child.
In those moments of weakness, I really worried if I’d be able to do this whole single parenting thing. It’s hard being a parent all by itself, but it is even more difficult to be a single parent. The resentment was overpowering especially in the first year of being a single mom, and now I can look back and see that it was eating me alive. I finally made the decision that it was important – no, imperative – that I let go of the resentment, forgive, and start to live my life to the fullest.
It’s easy to continue to hold on to that resentment; it is neither healthy or fair to continue to do so though. If it’s whether through a difficult breakup or divorce, the resentment is only affecting you and your children. They will witness the anger and resentment that you focus on and may even begin to wonder if it’s all their fault. You don’t want that to happen, so it’s time to let go of that resentment.
Here are some tips for letting go of resentment, and starting to live your life again rather than dwelling on the past:
Face your resentment.
This is possibly one of the most difficult things that I had to do through my transition of letting go of resentment. Before you can even come close to letting it go, you have to face that it exists. Take ownership for the role you played, forgive yourself, and face that this is the way that things are. For a long time, I focused on the breakup of the relationship and the impact that it would have on my child in the future. I resented my child’s father and the fact that he had taken no responsibility for his actions. I was angry by the amount of money, time, and effort that I put into a relationship that I knew (in the back of my mind) was headed for hurt and pain. I had to face my resentment head on, and find ways to move on.
Don’t ignore your feelings.
A few days ago, I was having a conversation with a friend about a relative that had died. It had been a few years since it happened, and she was still mourning especially around the anniversary of that relative’s death. She felt bad for feeling the way that she did because many people were telling her that she should be over it by now, that she should just get past it already. But it’s not that easy to just ignore the way that you’re feeling just because time has gone by (I’ll address this in more detail in #5). It’s normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, annoyed, anxious, nervous – you just have to learn how to deal with these feelings in a healthy way.
Deal with your resentment.
Embrace your feelings and find creative ways to deal with it as you are working through it. Sit in the car before picking up your child from daycare and scream your lungs out, have a good cry in the shower, take up running or kickboxing – the goal is to find a way to deal with the anger and resentment while you heal. Share your feelings with a trusted friend, one who will be there to listen and support you through this. This is expected to be a short term fix; this cannot replace the healing process. Work through the issues and find some ways to deal, heal, and let go.
Accept the person for who they are.
I say this to almost every single mom that I speak with – accept your child’s father for who they are. This does not mean that you have to respect the things that they do to you or the lack of involvement with their child. This means that you have to realize who you’re dealing with, and don’t try to hold them to a standard that they would never be able to achieve. My son’s father is not the type of father that will be there 24/7. He will not take my son to the park, or to an outing, or to a ballgame. It’s not in his nature, his character, or his abilities to willingly take on any of these responsibilities. He is the type of person that will avoid coming around if he has promised something that he knows he cannot fulfill – he will disappear to avoid having to do it. I have realized who he is, and I have accepted that this is just the way it will be. It used to frustrate me completely; now it’s just a mild irritation, if that.
Take the time to heal.
Letting go of your resentment will not happen overnight. It takes time to heal and to fully let go. Have you ever heard the saying It takes as long as you’ve been in the relationship to finally get over it (it’s something like that, don’t hold me to this word for word)? It’s really the truth. Not necessarily the time frame because everyone heals in their own time, but the fact that it takes that long for you to even begin the process of healing and letting go. It takes time! Focusing on the length of time that is acceptable for you to heal won’t make you heal any quicker; it will only make it that much more frustrating when you cannot meet that deadline. Take some time to heal, with the end goal of finding some peace and happiness through the process. It will be so worth it in the end.
Forgive, let go, and move on.
I have shared a couple of post around forgiving and letting go. You have to first learn WHY you should forgive and let go, then focus on HOW to go about doing it. Forgiving is not the same as letting go of the resentment though. They go hand in hand, yes, but you can forgive while holding on to that anger, and not even realizing that you are. Forgiving, moving on, and letting go is a necessity to completing this entire process.