Letting Go

Candice was a hard-luck cliche. She had had a crappy childhood with parents that weren’t quite abusive enough to be considered criminals (at least not in the days when she was young) but certainly abusive enough to make for a miserable childhood.

Candice’s family lived in a fairly decent neighbourhood in Candice’s grandparents’ house. The grandparents were long dead, so they lived there practically for free. But Candice’s parents both drank a lot and worked only sporadically so there was never enough money for anything. No cool clothes. No vacations. No music lessons. No summer camp. No fun.

Candice didn’t fit in with any of the more affluent kids at school. She thought they were stuck-up and mean. They mocked her until that got boring and then they pretty much ignored her.

Candice was a mediocre student with no real hopes of being able to go to college and no real desire for any kind of career. After high school she got herself a job at Tim Hortons because she saw a sign in the window one day that said they were hiring.

The Tim Horton’s closed down after a year and three months, so Candice was out of a job. Her parents wanted her out of the house, so she took what money she had been able to save and moved to a larger city.

In the new city she immediately got a job at a Starbucks. She found herself a little studio apartment, was able to buy a few pretty things for herself and felt almost happy for the first time in her life. She made friends at work and eventually met a man 10 years her senior who fell in love with her and “captured her heart”, as Candice liked to put it.

They had nothing in common, but that seemed to draw them together all the more. He, Aaron had grown up wealthy and now practiced law in his family’s firm. Aaron’s parents didn’t like Candice, but Aaron was a 30-year-old man and lived his own life.

Candice and Aaron were married after a short courtship. The marriage lasted almost 8 years until, predictably, Aaron grew tired of the wife with whom he had next to nothing in common. Aaron had affairs. Candice forced herself not to realize it until he announced he was leaving her for someone else. He left her with a nice house, a new car, a very healthy bank account and a monthly cheque.

Candice went into therapy.

Twenty years later Candice is still in therapy working through the pain of her childhood and the betrayal of the only man she ever loved. She’s had dozens of lovers since; has tried and failed at various jobs; and has a number of chronic health issues to add to her overall misery.

Most of her friends got fed up some time ago with Candice’s incessant resentments and don’t spend much time with her anymore. Their neglect only adds fuel to Candice’s raging bitterness.

“People suck,” Candice declares often.

“No,” said her friend Sharon. “You suck. You’re hanging on to the anger and pain of shitty stuff that’s been over for a long time. You feed the anger and pain. You nurture it like a child. You bring it out to show your friends, like you’re a proud mother. You’ve filled your entire life with so much shit that there’s no room for anything good or positive anymore. That sucks.”

Candice stopped speaking to Sharon because she, like everyone else had no appreciation for the true horror of Candice’s life.

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25 responses to “Letting Go

  1. One of the saddest things I know is someone getting hurt and then giving the cause of that hurt all their energy time and anger for years after.
    It never hurts the target and always drains the victim.

  2. Agree w/ Bandobras — hard to overcome hurts like those, but in the end the people who caused the pain aren’t going to care/suffer/etc.

  3. I figure I have only so much energy to get through the day. Using up tons of it on resentment just leaves me that much less for use on more interesting things…

  4. I tend to dwell on the past as well, particularly negative things that happened and horrible things people have said to me. But y’know what? “Sharon” is right- This neurotic tendency only hurts and hinders you.

    I’m taking steps to become a more positive, lighthearted person who lets go of the past and it sounds high time that “Candice” did the same. 🙂

  5. Bandobras – We seem to encourage the whole “reliving/talking about” pain over and over because that’s supposed to make things better. I think it just keeps breathing new life into it instead of allowing you to let it go. I don’t know… maybe I just have never been traumatized enough to understand this properly.

    Dr. Monkey – Yes, I suppose you’re right. One person might be able overcome something really horrendous and move on with their lives while another will become paralyzed forever by something not nearly as horrendous. And they won’t understand each others’ reactions at all.

    Olivia – Sometimes I think people hang on to pain, anger, resentment, etc., because they’re afraid that without it they’ll have nothing. Like, if someone you really love betrays you, they have robbed you of your love so you replace it with anger and bitterness because you still need to feel something for that person. Does that make any sense?

    Jazz – I sort of feel the same way.All that negative passion takes up so much mind and gut space and you have to keep feeding it…it’s exhausting and doesn’t actually accomplish anything useful. Of course, like I said to Bandobras, maybe I just haven’t experienced anything awful enough to warrant all that energy.

    Hannah – It’s like having a big cancer in your belly that you can’t remove for whatever reason. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger with every new resentment and will eventually destroy you. But then as Dr. Monkey implies, some things are so not easily excised.

  6. Elaine – I can pretty much guarantee that not even the fictional characters in any story of mine have ever had anything to do with Laura Schelssinger or her books. Any resemblance is purely coincidental and a little scary.

  7. Oh. That’s incredible b/c Schlessinger herself could well say exactly this:

    “You suck. You’re hanging on to the anger and pain of shitty stuff that’s been over for a long time. You feed the anger and pain. You nurture it like a child. You bring it out to show your friends, like you’re a proud mother. You’ve filled your entire life with so much shit that there’s no room for anything good or positive anymore. That sucks.”

    Which I see the thinking behind but is needlessly harsh.

    Seriously – that is exactly what Bad Childhood, Good Life argues! It was a little hard to take.

  8. See? This is why I don’t have a girlfriend, and why I’m not in a big rush to find one.

    Because at my age (45), almost everyone’s taken.

    And for the ones that aren’t, a lot of them will be like Candice.

    (Or, at least, a much larger percentage than you’d find at age 25).

    Now…what this says about ME being available…is a whole other story!.

    heh heh. 😉

  9. I think we all have different levels of natural resiliency, and given the same negative life experiences, some of us will bounce back better than others. We can learn to bounce better, but we have to be prepared to face “something different” in the place of the negativity that we have come to know so well. Many people just can’t accept that the unknown, as scary as it initially is, may in fact be better.

  10. I think Candice is happy. I know people that seem to love dwelling on the negative. She is getting some sort of payoff by being that way, so I think she likes it. It makes her happy. Or something like that.

  11. Elaine – I just want to point out that this is a fictional story intended to explore 2 sides of a situation I find interesting. Like most things, I personally, am undecided about this. Although I’m pretty convinced that Laura is a big dangerous tool.

    Friar – Ohhhhhhhhh! THAT’S why you don’t have a girlfriend. Because women your age are all so messed up….

    Pinklea – Very true. I think I said something very similar in one of my responses earlier. And I think you’ve got a good point there about “the unknown” – the past is familiar and comforting in its own way – even if it is destructive. I wouldn’t even presume to tell people how to deal with their shit. I was just exploring 2 sides of the story because I see so many people locked into that pattern and am trying to understand it.

    Geewits – Yes. I know a lot of people like that. The same thing applies to people who stay married even though they seem to hate their spouses – they are in some strange way happy like that.

    Elaine – Again – wow… I was just saying that very thing to Pinklea…

  12. @XUP

    oh, Gee wits. That’s NOT what I said, (that women my age were messed up.

    You take a certain population…any population. Most will be Sharons. A small minority will be Candices.

    But at age 20, almost everyone’ single, nobody’s permanently attached. Your odds of meeting a Candice are pretty small.

    Fast forward 25 years later. Everyone’s had lots of time to couple up and find their soul mate. Most of the Sharons are taken. Leaving a larger portion of Candices still available. (Same thing applies to the Biffs and Brads).

    I”m not saying all single 40-somethings are Candices. Just that their numbers are greater. And when dating at my age, it’s something I’m aware off.

  13. Hmm. Sounds like my sister. She is no longer speaking to me because “her truth about our childhood isn’t mine” whatever that means. Everything in her life is always a crisis and she’s always mad at someone. Oh, the drama of it all. I like my world to be peaceful.

  14. This makes me sad because I have a friend who I definitely see as Candice … and desperately want to be Sharon, but am way too afraid to confront such an angry person because their reaction is predictable and painful. 😦

  15. Violetsky – Maybe, but you know what they say… you can lead a horse to water…

    Friar – Calm down. Because you’re right. The older you get the more baggage you have, whether you’re single or not, male or female. Ergo when you are trying to date as an older person it gets really rough with the combined baggage each person brings to the relationship. Mostly it’s just too exhausting to even consider.

    LoLa – Same shit, different stink – right? Har har

    Nat – Thanks. And I agree.

    Linda – That happens a lot with siblings. We think we grew up in the same household with the same parents, but we obviously didn’t. It’s an interesting phenomena and one which I’ve wondered about a lot in my family.

    Quack – No point in confronting. It’s like trying to talk an alcoholic out of being an alcoholic. You can’t. This is their life view and they have to find their own way through it. You can be supportive and offer help if they ask for it, if you’re strong enough to put up with such a one-sided and rather abusive friendship OR you can walk away, if it’s affecting you adversely.

  16. Linda: If I may comment on a commentator. You need to meet my daughter (really named Sharon, honest) who has a sister like yours, who claims the “truth” of her childhood isn’t at all like her sisters. Sharon is happy and well adjusted. Her sister not so much; but it’s easier blaming me than dealing with her issues.

    As far as my thoughts on the subject: Sometimes, people have problems and just do not realize what they are from. When you are growing up, you think everyone grows up in the same type of family situation. I mean, sure some people are richer or poorer, but gosh, doesn’t everyone come home from school to a mother who is sitting there cutting out little pieces of paper with exactly straight even sides, day after day after day?

    Hmmmm, no? How about doesn’t everyone live with two parents whose seeming sole enjoyment of life is to make each other miserable and keep you in the middle of it? No, again?

    Well, it took me many, many years to realize that not everything I did was wrong; that my mother was obsessive compulsive and so no matter what I did, it would not be right, in her eyes?

    Okay, and if you understood that sentence, congratulations.

    My point, is that you can’t “get over it” until you realize you’ve got it. I started writing a life story type of thing and one sentence I wrote was like the proverbial light bulb going off. Oh, it’s not me, now I see the problem.

    Maybe I’m just a bit slow.

  17. LGS – True

    Sheryl – I’m happy to hear that you’re working through some of this by writing your life story. You certainly have a wealth of material.

  18. wow, another good post. i’d like to point out that it’s a very real thing that you can take 3 kids from the same family and ask them to write their story and you’ll get 3 different versions that you’d swear were not related.

    each person has their own perception and perceptions are reality.

    it’s sad that candice cannot let go of her pain and resentments choosing to be chained to them for eternity. people don’t realize that this type of behavior only serves to hold them prisoner. i think maturity comes in when a person takes responsibility for their own lives as adults and works to clean up the wreckage. otherwise, they are just repeating the injustices done to them over and over when they have a choice to just let it go.

    acceptance doesn’t mean the other people are cleared for their bad behavior, when we accept people for who they are rather than who we wish them to be we become free from the icky stuff.

    people like their “negativity” they nurture it and love it and let it grow. i suspect for many people it’s b/c they are too lazy to do the actual work it takes to move beyond their troubles. my therapist always says, “some people don’t want to be helped”.

    it’s a huge amount of work to try and peel back the layers, and quite often very painful. having been on both sides of the fence (as with candice), i will choose acceptance every time. it’s extremely painful but it pays off, to be free from those chains.