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Many people who were wronged by a primary caregiver or other significant person hold on to bitterness, resentment, anger, and other painful emotions for years or even decades. Letting go is easier said than done.

An idea that can be really helpful to make the conscious decision to move towards closure is that keeping these feelings alive is allowing the abuse to continue. On an unconscious level, feeling anger and bitterness seems like a way to fight back against what happened. You didn’t stand up for yourself then but you are now. In actuality though you are letting your present be destroyed as surely as your past was destroyed.

Whether you choose to hang on to these feelings or let go of them the choice is ultimately yours and both routes are a way to make sense of what happened. Some people come to realize how much more powerful it is to rise above and use the experience as a reminder to live a great life of productivity, love, and happiness. If you really want to get back at someone this is the way to do it, by making your life remarkable. But when people go the route of growth instead of bitterness a funny thing happens, which is that getting revenge ceases to feel important or even necessary. Having a happy, healthy life and wanting to get back at someone are really two incompatible states and the more you focus on the first the less you will even care about the second.

We don’t want to diminish how difficult it is to let go of traumatic experiences but if you can take a step back and view what happened a bit more objectively you will invariably come to the conclusion that you are letting the person who wronged you continue to wrong you by holding on. The way to settle up the score and create meaning out of suffering is to make the conscious decision for growth and happiness.