I used to think I didn't hold grudges for that long, until today. At times I find myself plucking that little dark morsel from my heart and reexamining it. Usually this happens after reading an article or seeing a post.
When I was 9 I had a teacher call me a liar in front of my classmates. She also treated the "richer" kids nicer than those of us who were poor. She made me feel dumb and mortified when I was presenting a project in front of my classmates about my father's job. I worked so hard to build a shadow box about him. She belittled my ignorance between "construction" and "steel construction". I was given an "F"; but after my mother met with the principle, all the "poor" kids who received "Fs" received an "A". There was only two grades: 100 for a completed project and 50 for no project. I held a grudge against her. And find myself still disliking her for the damage she did to the other children.
When I was 17 I had a teacher that didn't like what I wrote in English class because it scored higher than her favorite students. She changed the wording in my submission and made it sound horrible. (Of course I changed it back for the final submission). She also tried to keep from joining her class, but after my recommendations and scores she had to allow me. She treated the poorer students like they were beneath her. I've seen her scoff at other students for what they wore. I've seen her label them as unworthy. I held a grudge against her for her harmful actions against others, and for making them feel less.
When I was in my 20s, my son's grandmother made life difficult. She went to any and all lengths to tear my son away from me. In the end she lost, thanks to my wonderful family. I've seen her cheat cleaners on a bill. I've seen her treat the working class as less than she (even though she was a blue collar worker herself). I still dislike her and see her as nothing but evil. That grudge still seems to stick around.
When I was in my 30s I had a boyfriend who owed me lots of money, and when I got it back he stole it back from me (literally taking it out of my account or out of the books I kept my rainy day funds in). Plus, I had believed his lies. That's on me. But it's knowing his true self that I hold a grudge against.
I'm in my early 40s now and I still have one more grudge that I don't like to talk about, but nevertheless it is there. It bothers me most of all, but I am learning to deal it with.
So when I look at the grudges, I see them for what they are. Not grudges at all. But memories and lessons learned about the injustice and harmful ways of others. Lessons that I can reexamine to insure that I don't make the same mistakes or treat someone as badly as the person treated me. It makes me empathetic to others. Lessons that help me understand the motives or reasoning behind the person's actions.
And I realize, I no longer dislike the person. I dislike their actions and the harm it did. We may forgive, but we don't forget. That is how we prevent ourselves from falling into the same trap of the past.
Maybe those grudges aren't so nasty after all. If we don't let them eat at us, they can stay around to help us grow. And every once in a while, when I pluck that little grudge from the darkest corner of my heart, I can then decide, "does this grudge help or hinder?". I will keep those that help and cast away those that hinder.
Like a piece of dandelion fluff, I can blow it into the wind and let it be carried far away from me.