Reader QUIT: Holding Grudges (by Keisha Douglas)

I don’t know much about addictions, but I think they need a rehab program dedicated to fixing my particular problem.

I can hold a grudge like nobody’s business.  I’d win a Stanley Cup, Oscar, and a Grammy for how well I am at holding a grudge against people.  Sometimes, I’m just too nice. I’m the type of person who will give you five “get out of jail free” cards until you lose my trust completely.  Then I am as vengeful as Catwoman (the Michelle Pfeiffer one).

It’s probably time for me to quit.


When I Begrudgingly Started My Grudging

In high school, I had the greatest friend anyone could have.  We met when we were 8 years old but didn’t become close friends until middle school.  She was the only one who knew about my family issues, my fears, and my high school crushes.  We even had those cutesy friendship necklaces.  We were practically sisters.

That was true until my second year of college.  As anyone can expect, time and distance had the usual effect on our friendship: less contact, people change.  Except in my case, the end of our friendship came abruptly and seemed more intentional than accidental.

I figured there would be no problems with us.  I mean, went to college about 5 hours away from each other.  She was extremely busy and I was stressing about whether or not I had picked the right major, but we would be each other’s long distance moral support.  Then suddenly, she stopped returning my calls.  She didn’t respond to my e-mails.  She didn’t say a word  when I told her about my first boyfriend.  It was like that for 6 months.  Finally, I got an e-mail from her.  Hooray!!  But my excitement turned into bitter sadness when I realized that she’d sent me an e-mail telling me her family was moving away. No explanation or apology.

I replied in the best way I knew how: by being completely honest.  I poured my heart out and asked why she had been acting this way.  I wondered if I had done something wrong.  Was she hiding something from me?   No reply.  I was pissed.  I cried.  I blamed myself.  Did she suddenly realize that she hated me?  What the hell happened?


And So The Grudge Monster Was Born

I think it’s best described as the smoke monster from Lost.  Except my version of it is silent and comes when you least expect it.

It began during my junior year of college. I started handing out my grudge cards left and right.  From past roommates to ex-friends I held onto just so that I could get some sort of revenge, I had my boxing gloves on and was ready to bring some pain.  I told myself that they had a debt to pay.  For all those times I sacrificed my time, money, and feelings for theirs without even a thank you or some kind of reciprocal kindness, I disliked them a little more.

My grudges arose from people’s reactions to the most ridiculous of instances. One friend had begged me to be her roommate for the summer. I had turned down my other friends’ offers to room with them, because I didn’t want to let this friend down. For months we planned on living together. Until she bought a new kitten. I am extremely allergic to cats. “Having an asthma attack and watery eyes the moment I enter the room” kind of allergic. My friends knew this. But our other friend persuaded her that adopting a new cat was better. And neither one of them thought my being angry with them was rational.

There would be times that I wouldn’t hear from them in weeks unless I made the effort to invite them over. When I didn’t have much money, I was the one blamed for our being unable to take a spontaneous trip to Disney World. Whenever I had to film for a class assignment three weekends in a row, it was my fault that the only time they wanted to hang out with me was during my film shoot. Somehow, I accepted it. I felt that they had the right to be mad. I would apologize profusely and we would go on being friends.  I didn’t want to lose the people who were like family to me over what I thought were petty reasons.

I vaguely remember telling myself that I would not be bitter towards my best friend (or anyone else) after our friendship ended.  But something inside of me said, “Screw that. These bitches are going down!” I had realized that not one of them wanted to reciprocate. I felt that this was the best reason to be vengeful towards them.  I would build up my grudges this way, crossing each person off my list after I got my so-called revenge on them.

I loved coming up with some clever excuse to not see them for days at a time so that I could recover from the unpleasant experience of being around them.  I had put up a wall between my wanting to be friends with them. I would use the silent treatment, gossip behind their backs, ignore their calls, “forget” that we had plans, and was just an outright bitch.  I would grit my teeth and put on my poker face to bear with any lie or putdown they threw at me—long enough for me to show them how I felt whenever they took advantage of my kindness.

I’d like to accept my Oscar now.


I Quit

“Holding anger is a poison…It eats you from inside…We think that by hating someone we hurt them…But hatred is a curved blade…and the harm we do to others…we also do to ourselves.” ~MitchAlbom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The truth is:  Some friendships are just plain toxic. I shouldn’t have kept making up excuses for people’s uncaring behavior.  They kicked me when I was down and took any ounce they could from our friendship.  It hadn’t yet clicked in my head that my feelings were being ignored. Everything noticeably wrong with our friendship was blame that I had to endure from them

All I wanted to do was get revenge.  But no one’s perfect; I’m happy to admit now that I’m not, either.  I now know that I don’t have time to live my life for anyone but myself.

At the end of the day, I was the only one in pain over all this.  It stings, don’t it?  That blade just keeps cutting. While I was fuming over the fact that I was friends with a total tyrant, a selfish princess, or a clueless mannequin, they hadn’t even noticed.  I was putting my all anger into showing them that I was mad at them, but they didn’t even flinch.  I had gotten to the point where I actually cried my eyes out as I poured out soul to one of those friends…and I’m never that emotional in public!

It broke my heart letting a friend go…but it also felt amazing.  I became free of any obligation to give a damn.  I’ve stopped feeling guilty for losing a friendship that I solely was fighting for.

And, to be honest, I suck at getting revenge.  How childish does a person have to be to get to the point of ridiculousness?  I didn’t have to get revenge.  But I didn’t have to forgive them, either.  What I needed to do was stop being friends with them.  I was the only one who cared so much. As I am writing this, I can’t even remember for many people what I was mad so about in the first place.

But no matter what, I will try to be the first to call and wish you a happy birthday.  When you can’t pay for groceries, I will gladly offer to loan you the money.  When you and your significant other break up, I will buy all the ice cream, pizza, and other junk food you need to eat while we watch sappy movies just to cheer you up.  I do it because that’s what good friends do.  No one OWES me. It’s called F-R-I-E-N-D-S-H-I-P.  Friends are not recommendation boxes that you can slip notes into to help mold them into the “perfect” friend.


Breakup With a Friend Without Holding a Grudge

Breaking up with a friend can be just as difficult as breaking up with your significant other.  It can be just as gut-wrenching and emotionally draining. So treat it as such.  Throw out all their stuff, delete their numbers, block them on every social network account you have, sing some empowering Beyoncé songs, get all of your anger out at a shooting range.  Do whatever you need to do to get all of your anger towards them out of your system without being evil or passive-aggressive.  Then move on.  No slow breaks, either.  I’ve tried that, and it still sucks as much as keeping the person as a friend.  Yes, you should forgive…eventually.  But don’t be friends with that person ever again.

Think of this as a learning experience.  Don’t waste anymore of your precious time thinking about what you should have said to them or any blablabla nonsense you shouldn’t be thinking about.

The best revenge anyone can get is to be happy.  While my ex-friends may think I’m a terrible person, I’ve been going on with my life.  I’ve already forgotten what’s-her-name.  I don’t need those soul-suckers.  I have great ,cool, honest, forgiving, epic friends by my side now.


Keisha directs and produces music videos as a career. Now equipped with a B.F.A. in film and television, she plans to make a feature film…sometime in her 30s. Until then, she wants to continue blogging, traveling, writing, and hopes to get a chance to teach ESL in South Korea. Check out her official website and entertainment, etc. blog.



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  • christian

    I don’t know. The theme of this entire post feels like Keisha is still angry and still holding onto grudges. It seems that she has expectations for how people are supposed to behave according to Keisha and how they are supposed to treat her. When they fail, it’s epic failure and they are responsible for how they failed her. Keisha feels pushy, even needy. She says she is generous to a fault and helpful in a “give you the shirt off my back” kind of way. But it also feels like she expects everything to be reciprocated.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the need to let go of grudges, to allow people to be people and to move on. It just doesn’t feel like Keisha is moving on.

    • I’ll be very curious to see how Keisha responds to this, Christian. I can see why you read it that way, but my take as I read it was that she was showing us how she viewed things back when she was in “grudge monster” mode, pointing out along the way that it was ridiculous and that she was overreacting. I agree that it does come across as angry, but I viewed that as Keisha taking us back into her thought process of how she felt when she was in the throes of grudge-holding, to show how truly silly and pointless it is when you’re stuck in that mindspace.

      Clearly she and her friends had some relationship issues and no doubt there are two sides to every story, but I felt the post wasn’t about who was right and who was wrong so much as it was about what you do when you have these kinds of falling-outs.

      Keisha, what say you?

      • Thanks for your comment Christian! I purposefully come across being angry because, well, the whole reason for me ever have a grudge was because I was angry.

        About your thoughts on my being pushy and needy, let me ask you this: Have you never wanted a friend to treat you just how you treated them? It all goes back to when we were younger and adults always said “Treat others how you wanted to be treated.” It was my fault for not telling my friends when they hurt my feelings and letting it slide.Yes, I do think I’m a very generous person, but not to a fault. That’s just the person I want to be. I’ve always liked being the person people can count on. But I don’t see anything wrong with wanted the people I’ve known for years to treat me the same.

        And I’ve been on the other side of the spectrum as well, where I have friends who are even more generous than I am, to where I think it’s clingy too. But they are just like me in the sense that they just want my friendship and that I should reciprocate the kindness. I’m okay with that. Honesty, trust, generosity. That’s how you build long term relationships with anyone.

        As for my last couple paragraphs, that was a play off what you say to someone after a breakup. Instead of ” He/she doesn’t deserve you”, I refer to them as soul-suckers as a sense of encouragement to my readers.

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