How do I stop being angry about old drama? (long)

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    Last spring, I misrepresented something to a lot of people without realizing I was doing it, and even though I didn’t mean to deceive or hurt anyone, I did. I lost a lot of what I thought at the time were friends and had my faith in who and what I am badly shaken. I’d always prided myself on the fact that I don’t have a lot, but I’m honorable and compassionate and kind. But if that’s not true, then what is true about me?

    What bothers me is I can’t stop being angry at the friends-of-friends and people who acted like my friends who are still trying to milk the whole situation for the drama. One or two in particular weren’t directly involved, but seem to constantly rehash the incident to get themselves attention and sympathy. A little while after things went bad, I looked up someone who had been involved on Facebook to see how she was doing. The first thing I found was a public post where most of the people with whom I’m still upset said cruel things about me personally. Not about the situation, but essentially about how they never liked me anyway because of my stupid face. It’s a real-life situation that spilled over onto online, and now and then someone I know in passing asks me if I know about what such-and-so wrote or said about me. If not that, then they ask me about something one of them must have made up about me, since I have no idea what they’re talking about. I still come across Facebook comments now and then where someone tries to make it sound like I’m still bothering them and they’re so put-upon, or cutesy comments in groups they know I’m in that amount to “tee hee! Hey, look, everybody, I’m ignoring somebody!”. I haven’t spoken to any of them since last March.

    I guess my question is, how do I stop being so mad at them? It’s not like I’m a completely blameless wronged party. I’m not sure it’s right for me to think I can decide how long people should be mad or how they should react. I worry sometimes that still holding onto my hurt instead of the hurt I caused makes me a bad person. But at the same time… I’ve had issues with depression my entire life, but this was what pushed me the closest I’ve ever been to killing myself. My brain was already telling me, “you’re irredeemable; you’re a monster and worthless and you don’t deserve to live after what you did!” So when I saw people I had respected saying the same thing, it cemented the idea in my head as right, or at least as the thing that would make up for everything that happened and prove to everyone how terrible I felt about it. I had a plan and did a few dry runs before some good friends helped me snap out of it. Even after that, I took a long time to accept that what I did doesn’t define who I am. Sometimes I still have trouble believing that I’m worthy of the people in my life who like me and that I’m not disgusting and awful.

    I’m even still a little afraid to make myself noticed in other circles of friends, because what if I say or do something to remind someone of year-plus old drama elsewhere, and it starts again there? At the time I had an art project I was working on, that I haven’t touched since even though it made me happy. They made a lot of hay about how ugly and stupid it was in their backbiting, and there’s that little voice in the back of my head that says, “but what if they were right and it really is ugly and stupid?” when I think about working on it again. But more than that, I’m afraid of what happens if I share it in an online art community where I go by a name they don’t know, and one of them recognizes it and tries to start drama there. There’s part of me always flinching in anticipation of someone suddenly exclaiming, “that was you? You’re horrible! Get out of here!”

    I think about these people taking this thing that was so profound in my life and treating it as a joke, a way to make themselves look better by making me look bad, or a freakshow for their entertainment, and I get so angry I shiver. Especially since I see so many of them still in real life and on Facebook, I want to tell them that I know the things they said and what they can do with the entire lineage of the horse they rode in on. I know that would be giving them exactly what they want, though. I avoid these people as much as I can, so weeks or months usually go by between someone saying something nasty about me and the “did you hear/see…?” getting back to me as well. It isn’t fair to attack people for things they said when they were angry, let alone things they said when they were angry in, say, November. I try to focus on the good people and good things in my life, but somehow this manages to overshadow them. Even when I try to focus on the fact that I got off pretty easy all things considered, and the people who talked to me to my face about all the drama were for the most part far nicer than I deserved, I just get angry at the people who were nice to me. If they’re willing to say these sweet things to me privately, where were they when people were beating up on me in public? Why didn’t they stand up for me when people were making up lies about me for the sake of drama? But that’s not fair either. So I leave them all alone and stew about it, which puts me in terrible black moods where I can go from being pretty content to about to cry from anger and frustration in moments.

    But it was over a year ago. I have no interest in talking to any of them ever again. I think even most of the people who were in it for the drama have long since moved on to more exciting sport, since I never responded to any of their attempts to provoke me. When I say “people I thought were my friends,” I don’t mean it in the geek fallacy “they don’t accept that I did something bad, so they aren’t my friends” way. I mean that in looking back at our interactions before that, the friendships seem pretty one-sided, where I did way more for them than they did for me. I think I read more into friendly-acquaintance relationships than was there. So these are people I’m probably better off without anyway. At the end of the day, the people I’m hung up on are all strangers who don’t know anything about me but what they heard down the drama-line, so their opinions of me and what I do shouldn’t matter to me. I’ve tried to focus on the positive and tried to start conciliatory conversations with people I’m not so angry with or acknowledge the people who were kind to me, but that just makes me very sad for reasons I can’t quite identify.

    So it shouldn’t matter anymore, but it does. I shouldn’t still be this angry and scared, and yet I am. How do I move on from this?

    jason holborn

    Last spring doesn’t seem so long ago; don’t beat yourself up too much about “not letting go of this ancient drama”. It’s fairly recent, imho! Big crises need big time to move by. You say you “shouldn’t be so angry and cared”, yet you feel the way you feel and you are the way you are. Imho, that’s a-ok. You have the intention to move on; that’s great imho.

    One useful thing (sometimes, in great emotion, I forget this!) is to write a gratitude list out, or mentally create one. A daily gratitude journal, if you don’t already have one, could be one key to help you move on in the way that you wish to.

    Good luck! Bonne chance!


    “What people think of you is none of your business” is a quote I like.

    One suggestion I have is to unfriend or at least hide these people in your Facebook newsfeed. Exit the groups where they are making public comments that have you feeling uncomfortable. Essentially, limit your exposure to the hurtful things. Out of sight, out of mind can sometimes be a very easy and effective way to deal with these types of issues.

    I encourage you to continue with your art project. It made you happy. Do it for you, not for anybody else. If you do share it in an online art community and someone recognizes it and starts in on you, that’s going to reflect far worse on them than on you. Don’t allow fear to keep you paralyzed. Sharing your art is brave, be proud of that. Anyone can be a critic but it takes courage to exhibit your work. Unfortunately, you may need to develop thick skin in terms of handling criticism or rejection. Not everybody is going to like your work, or you for that matter, but it takes all types to make the world go around. Someone may fall in love with your work, and by extension you.

    Lavinia Lumezanu

    Well, to me all of this just seems like a misunderstanding that turned into a huge mess. I can’t pretend to understand what you are going through, but I have had myself episodes when the drama of it was just overwhelming and all I wanted to do is run away. I was angry at everyone. Here are a few steps that helped me:

    1. If you did something wrong towards your friends, first of all apologize, ask them to forgive you and let them know how much it hurts you to see or hear those comments. Sometimes people don’t even realize how much harm they are doing by teasing, bringing up old wounds, and rehashing everything. Give them the benefit of the doubt and try talking to them. If it works, great; if it doesn’t, then you know you’ve done your best.

    2. Stop talking about it. If anyone in your group of friends brings it up, kindly tell them that it’s a matter from the past and you’d like to keep it in the past. Be gentle about it though, nobody likes to be put in the corner for some random comment.

    3. It seems to me that you’re more angry at yourself than you are at your friends. Maybe because you trusted them, maybe because you allowed yourself to get involved in all the drama. Whatever it is, forgive yourself for it. Let it be a lesson for the future, but leaving the drama and the pain in the past.

    4. Forgive your friends. At the end of the day, they are human, with good and bad. You once saw them as your friends. Even if they no longer fit that title, they must have done something to deserve the title “friend” and some point in your life. Forgive them for all the bad things and try to still appreciate the good things they did.

    5. Go back to your art. Even if you don’t feel like it in the beginning, even if it brings some of the pain back, just let the pain wash through and let art heal you.

    And last, but not least, as for support. You don’t have to ask your friends or your family if that makes your uncomfortable or embarrassed, just ask anyone, feel free to ask me – after all, I’m just a stranger so I have no judgments to begin with. I’m happy to be a sounding board while you figure things out. Look me up at http://www.justlav.com and shoot me an email and most importantly, never ever think that you don’t matter.

    Bill Lee

    Dear PPT,

    First of all, I applaud you for acknowledging your own mistakes and owning up to them. As for the behavior of your so-called friends and their posse, unfortunately being petty and unkind are simply how many individuals act out. Putting others down in order to feel better about oneself usually indicates one’s own fears and insecurities.

    I have been in therapy for most of my adult life, focusing considerable effort on forgiving family, friends, and mortal enemies. Although the “adult” or intellectual part of me eventually gained insight regarding all the trauma, I kept suffering because it was my “inner child” that was still suffering and needed healing. If this resonates with you in any way, I will share that what helped me considerably was embracing the Buddhist concept of interconnectivity, along with practicing Tonglen meditation. Specifically, I focus on the common attributes that I share with my enemies and cultivate compassion for them. One technique is to picture people who have harmed you as 5 year-old children and imagine how they must have suffered and are still hurting as adults. You can also picture yourself as a 5 year-old and have a dialogue with them, informing them know that you understand and forgive them. This practice has helped me alleviate and get rid of ruminations, flashbacks, and nightmares. All of this is detailed in my latest book. I wish you inner peace.

    In Kindness,



    Bill, I really like your technique of picturing people as 5 year olds who suffered and thinking about how they’re still hurting. In fact, it makes me weep for those I’ve felt wronged me. I am imagining myself giving these children loving hugs and telling them it’s ok. Thank you for sharing.

    Bill Lee


    You’re more than welcome. I’m glad you could identify with my post. It took me many years to realize how empowering compassionate can be. Have a peaceful weekend.


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