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Count your #blessings

A guide to drawing up a healthy resentment list

Hot House

This article is taken from the June 2022 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

So our couples therapist instructed Will and I to keep private gratitude journals, and then show them to each other after a month. Insert vomit emoji. Presumably the idea is that you both find out how grateful you are for each other … which is clearly not massively thought through, because if you were so delighted by your spouse why would you be in therapy?

But obviously I smiled and nodded, mentally composing the long list of #blessings I’d include that would pointedly not include anything to do with Will. My friends, my job, the warm fuzzy feeling my charity donations give me — that kind of perfectly aimed passive aggression.

In the absence of any gratitude I ended up creating a resentment list instead

Then I got home, and realised I literally can’t think of a single thing I’m remotely grateful for anyway. Possibly the plumber who came on Thursday, for his biceps which did admittedly brighten my day. Not for his plumbing, which was appalling and required another plumber to fix his mistakes. Anyway, in the absence of any gratitude I ended up creating a resentment list instead, of all the things that make me want to top myself on a daily basis. I’ve reframed this (thank you, therapist, for this incredibly annoying term) as healthy venting.

  • Will’s voice. Needs no explanation.
  • The way the schools bring out the begging bowl at any opportunity despite the extortionate fees.
  • The plumbing in our house. See above. Fourth flood of year. Hench plumber not sufficient compensation.
  • The way Marylebone Cricket Club seems to write to Will weekly, but instead of opening the letters he leaves them in a stack in the hall.
  • The dilemma I have over whether a house that smells of scented candles is common or not.
  • The mothers at Lyra’s Hampstead prep who seem to have full hair and make-up done daily.
  • The mothers at Hector’s touchy-feely prep who wear Breton stripes.
  • Any parenting advice, particularly the kind that involves “allowing” emotions.
  • The thought that by not following said parenting advice I am messing Minnie, Lyra and Hector up permanently.
  • The knowledge that I will do this anyway, advice or not.
  • Will’s snoring.
  • My own indecision about the new bathroom tiles resulting in a year of living in frankly student-like conditions (bare plaster etc) and ensuing feelings of shame when any of the kids have friends round. Especially those from Hampstead prep.
  • How I have so few followers on Instagram that I had to make it private to make it look like this was the reason for the tiny number, thereby negating the point of having any social media presence in the first place.
  • Cosmetic surgeon who has just overdone my Botox, so that half my face looks like an egg.
  • The other half of my face for not looking egg-like enough.
  • The way the therapist has one piece of advice, which is to show myself more compassion. Why does it always come down to being nice?
  • Will’s boss for demanding his presence at multiple Tough Mudders, team building exercises etc.
  • St Paul’s for not offering Lyra a place. Still not over that.
  • Camping, and people who talk about it.
  • Ditto Cornwall.
  • Dogs, and the pressure the children put me under daily to get a tiny one.
  • The way saying you don’t like tiny dogs in St John’s Wood is tantamount to revealing a criminal record, or a liking for salad cream.
  • Will in Lycra cycling kit.

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