Grudge Worthy

I recently became aware that I’m holding grudges. I mean more than the appropriate small handful that we should all have to keep us interesting. Having no grudges is just showing off, and frankly, suspect if you are a regular human being. If you truly don’t have any, go get in the line for Goody Two-Shoes and Apparent Saints, and good luck to you because you will most likely expire from being an annoying bore.

I had a tasteful number of grudges against distant coworkers, and I thought that was it. Seemed harmless enough, and there is something that feels good about rehashing how a coworker wronged me. It makes me feel superior and virtuous in a way that is not at all like being a goody two-shoes.

But it’s a slippery slope. As I get more skilled at my job, I feel more empowered to hold grudges against more people who can’t measure up. I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I was telling my coworker (who I do not have a grudge against) about a few new people I had come in contact with who were annoying or rude, and I decided to not be as helpful as I could be. Made me feel like a badass, and also helped me provide a teaching moment. Dear annoying rude person, this is what happens when you cross me. Good luck getting the information only I know. Cue Vincent Price evil laugh.

Then an old grudge surfaced, so I retold the story of that grudge. And as I was telling it I couldn’t remember when the original insult had taken place. I’m still not sure but it could easily be 6 or 7 years ago. This person applied for a job as an assistant to my group. We offered her the job, and she did the “Oh, my current manager offered me more money and the position I really wanted” thing.  I get that is normal business practice, and if you pull that crap on me, I’m holding a grudge. And I did it very well. But now she works for another department and we have maybe 2-3 interactions a year. The most recent one irritated me, and I was ready to jump down her throat for what I considered not checking her work, but then I realized I had also made a mistake. Dammit. It’s also getting awkward because a coworker I really like, likes working with her.

So I took a metaphorical look behind me, and realized I’ve got quite a few grudges stacking up in a pile.

While I was contemplating that pile, and trying to channel Marie Kondo, the goddess of sparking joy by organizing and tidying up, I got blind-sided by some family grudges that I thought I had examined, folded neatly, and put away … from 25 years ago.  I barely even remembered the grudges in the first place. And with just one recent event, it popped out of the drawer in full grudge glory, with anger, and feelings of being wronged, and, yep, that superiority.

And then suddenly, like the houses the Marie Kondo visits that are stuffed with things — clothes, furniture, collections of buttons from the 1900s — I felt cluttered and weighed down. Also, I’m realizing some grudges have an expiration date — hanging onto a single event for a long time, just makes me look lame. And some never seem to go away, no matter how much I thought I had handled them like responsible adult.

Forget about being a better person, having more than a few hobby grudges takes energy and time, and memory, and I am not giving those away for free any more. I’m culling the whole bunch until I get to just one or two really good ones. So goodbye, woman who spurned my job offer 7 years ago; and hello annoying guy who emailed me 5 times with follow up questions after I told him I (truly) didn’t have the information he needed. Oh the things I will teach you.




  1. When it comes to understanding & empathy, you’re a pro. When it comes to grudges, you’re still an amateur. If you’ve hit 50 and don’t hate most of the world, you haven’t been trying hard enough. But fear not, my dearest friend. I’ll hold enough grudges for both of us. 🙂

    “This is your Monday morning inspiration. Now have a great week!” XO

    1. I totally knew you were going to comment on this one, LOL! It’s true! I don’t have your magnificent stamina for it–ha ha! You are Olympic level, my dear, and I’m blessed to have you in my life!

  2. Maybe these grudges are passed down from family. Our dear grandfather was a serious grudge holder. If you crossed him he would hold a grudge on you to his grave or to yours and beyond. While listening to his many stories as a kid there were a number of family members and acquaintances that he had permanent, irrevocable grudges against. I seemed to have inherited this trait for sometime. As a kid, for reasons I could never figure out, I was target for bullies and I held some grudges for years against these boys that would have made my grandfather proud. At some point though in my twenties I let them all go, and forgave every one of them. With the weight of those grudges lifted, I floated among the clouds for some time afterwards.

    The last deep grand-grudge that I released into the universe was against my father. That was the big one, brewed for more than 25 years, it was grooved in to my psyche deep and hard. I recall telling his brother about how I felt about my father on one of his visits from the old country. I told him that I wanted nothing to do with him and vowed that I would be nothing like my him. But one day thought came to me that my father might hold the secrets of half of my existence and that that I may never know who the hell I am if I didn’t get him figured out. That realization wasn’t at all something I relished getting cozy with right away but trying to fix the whole thing with copious amounts of Canadian Club wasn’t doing the trick either. So I had to restart the the whole relationship begrudgingly anew, and I melted down the walls down between us with pure determination. And as the revised relationship developed, the two of us went on epic day long bike rides, toured the coast of Maine a number of times, visited many galleries critiquing our favorite artists, took hundreds of photos for his future landscape paintings, enjoyed a few week long vacations on the artist mecca, Mohegan Island and low and behold, we became the best friends.

    No, I am for sure no where near being a Goody Two Shoes, and if there were actual places like heaven and hell, heaven would not be my destination. But I saw something in what took place between Pops and I that changed the way I see people who grate hard against my skin. I’m sure that I still hold some grudges here and there, maybe for a week or two, but I’m am so much more willing to give anyone a second chance. You just never know what might bloom when you take the time to get to know that irritating someone.

    And now what I’m really trying to figure out is where the hell was I and what might I have been doing to my sister 25 years ago!

    1. OMG! If I were on stage I would totally introduce you–everyone this is my brother! This is an entire blog unto itself! (and I may steal it and publish it next week!) I felt sad, then happy, then amazed and moved, and then you really got me with the punchline! I literally laughed out loud. Long story short, the grudge wasn’t about you or any immediate family in case any of you are reading this! You are all safely off the grudge list. And holy crap, how could I forget Pepere’s epic grudges? He was certainly the master. Thanks for the laugh, bro. You may not be a writer by trade, but you certainly have a knack for it!

      1. Whew! Glad I’m on your grudge free list! Yay!

        You certainly are welcome to use and (please) edit any part of my rambling as you like San. I wouldn’t have had the absolute pleasure of writing it without your inspiring blog and engaging topics. Thank you!

        (Just be forewarned that I won’t be responsible for any recently frostbitten tomatoes that come flying your way!)

  3. Surprisingly, a very well-written account of an old painful grudge there Mark! As I look back I think that in my ignorance, as well among other possible shortcomings, I belittled you when you grew up, which even up today leaves you with a sense of being inadequate. We are all products of our conditioning, mine coming from another continent, is definitely experienced as harsh by American standards. Mudder, Sandra, Lucas and Julie have the same feelings about me. On my side I experienced some 12 years of isolation, being disliked if not hated by the family while working 10 hour days to help maintain everybody in the crows nest. Well, I am grateful that all those bruiced feelings have subsided for the most part. Krishnamurti made me see that the content of the human intellect, which by the way is the sole reality for 99 percent of mankind!, IS CONFLICT. A perfect state of mind only lies in the essence of Life itself, in a state beyond all thoughts and feelings, which is timeless, has no locality and has no individuality. It is in a mind that is absolutely still. Love, Pops

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