I define resentment as “carrying the weight of someone else's actions.” That definition was especially true for me years after I left the violent far-right movement. There were times when I was occupied with day-to-day activities and found myself thinking things such as, “that fucking douchebag, I hope he rotates on a cactus,” and the memory of a former affiliate would appear. It’s nothing new to me that one is more likely to be betrayed or harmed by another subscriber to the ugly beliefs of the movement than they are by anyone in the outgroups.
People ask me how I handle resentment, and my comprehensive answer is, “It depends.”
The first example that pops up is when I was jumped and beaten by the people I once aligned myself with. They became suspicious of me following a vandalism spree. They believed that I ratted them out to the authorities instead of looking at the fact they had posted pictures of themselves in the act on social media. For years, I crept on their Facebook pages and laughed whenever I saw continued drama or a downward spiral in their lives. It served me almost nothing in hindsight.
A few months down the road, I ran into one of them, and she was apologetic for her part in the violence leveled against me, one of their own, after telling me that those same people betrayed her, too. It was tempting to tell her that karma is a bitch, but I refrained and said, “I forgive you, assuming you don’t do this to me or anyone else in the future.” As far as I’m aware, she hasn’t. What would I do if I discovered she had done it again? I’d like to think that I’ve grown beyond caring about her bad decisions.
In another scenario, I was with a toxic partner at one point. At that time, I was working on physically removing myself from the movement and didn’t have contact with anyone for almost a year. Someone from that circle contacted me, pretending they were leaving it behind as well, and we dated for a short time. It took me almost no time at all to be able to see that they were still very engaged in the ideology and had no plans to change anytime soon; they also made efforts to re-engage me in doctrine.
In crude terms, this person tried to Redpill Me With The Dick back into the movement. We broke up after five months of dating, and following that, I was angry with them and myself–they tried to pull me back in, and I hooked up with them in the first place. I spent endless time making fun of them, calling them every horrible name I could imagine. However, something constructive came out of this anger; I used it to not wind up in another relationship like that. I was angry about it because I knew I could do better.
We’re far quicker to forgive someone else than we are to heal the wounds in ourselves.
As much as subscribers to violent far-right beliefs are sometimes implicated in criminal behavior, they can also be victims. I’ve heard it often from some folks who pass judgment on those of us who were formerly involved. They might say, "If you never got involved, that would have never happened to you.” Possibly true. However, that statement ignores the possibility that one could be jumped, find themselves in a toxic relationship, or experience circumstances that some were never taught the tools to handle. Regardless of your circumstances, if you’re using resentment as a form of empowerment, then I would consider that a constructive use of it. If you can turn a single “that fucking douchebag” thought into one of “I can do better than this,” that is a good reframing.
There is an option to forgive, of course, if you feel that you can heal from it. I remember a previous therapist telling me that we’re far quicker to forgive someone else than we are to heal the wounds in ourselves, so if you want to go the forgiveness route, make sure you don’t neglect yourself in the process. Whatever route you choose, it should include healing for yourself.