The Grudge Book - Transcript
This is a transcript of a “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” episode entitled, “The Grudge Book.” The text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future for accuracy.
Listen to the episode here.
I’m Nora McInerny, and this is “Terrible, Thanks for Asking.” And today we are talking grudges. And I will tell you why. We are talking about grudges because many years ago – approximately six — after my husband and my dad died and I lost a pregnancy all at once, basically, my life was … not great? And a thing about hurt people, grieving people, is that we are not at their best! I was not at my best, for sure. And a part of me knew that, but most of me was really, truly committed to noticing, I mean full-time job, was noticing how bad other people were to me, around me … adjacent to me.
I had a lot of grudges. A LOT. A lot. And I was holding onto them so tightly, it felt like my fingers could crack. My bones would turn to dust. I was about to die with carpal tunnel, and the doctors were going to be like, “What’s that in her knotted hand? Mmmm. It’s something that happened in 2014.”
It’s not fun to be like this. It’s not fun to be around a person like this. And my therapist, who I paid to be around me, she suggested that I write out all of these things that I was holding onto. That I write the stories in great detail -- the who, what, when, where, why, how, what it meant — and I did.
I started a fresh notebook and I did what I always do with a fresh notebook: I wrote my name and my email address and my phone number inside the cover so that if it was lost, it comes back to me. I always do this. Not always my number, but at least always my email address.
And then, I just got to writing. I got to writing by hand every single grudge I was holding onto. My therapist was absolutely correct, this was a powerful exercise! It was powerful because for some of these grudges, writing them out showed me that actually ... I was the jerk. I was wrong. And the person who I was holding something against should actually be holding something against me. And for some of these stories, I was validated. I was validated by my own self. It was a really bad thing that happened, that they did. And for most of them, honestly, the result was somewhere in the middle.
There was a lot of nuance to it, and that helped me soften a little bit. I could see things a little more clearly. I could see how all of these situations were just people being people. And they’re sometimes disappointing, sometimes frustrating and usually even then still doing their best, and some people’s best is JUST NOT GOOD! Including my own, sometimes. Sometimes my best is so embarrassing! So cringey. So awful.
So happened to this notebook?
I left it in the seatback pocket of an airplane after spending a significant amount of the flight detailing -- and I do mean detailing, with names, places and identifying details -- a very specific grudge. I was just filling up the empty pages of this notebook. I left it in the seatback pocket of an airplane, and I never saw it again. And yeah, I could have called about it, but what would I say? What would I say? “Hello. Hi. Yes, I was in seat 23F, and I left a truly unhinged collection of personal anecdotes on your fart tube. Could you find it for me?” No, I didn’t call. Instead, I trusted that with my name inside, someone would return it to me.
And as of this recording, they have not.
And I do pray that it is somewhere in a landfill returning to the earth.
BUT! If someone publishes it as a piece of found non-fiction, I have no choice but to applaud that ingenuity and then buy every copy and light it on fire myself!
In the intervening years, I’ve done a lot of work on this. A lot of work on grudges and resentments and letting go. I have gone to recovery groups. I have worked with my psychologist friend Dr. Anna to make an e-course about how to let go of things (creatively titled “Let it Go”).
I thought I was doing pretty well. I really did. Until this summer, when I met a new person. I met a new person, and in this day and age that doesn’t happen very often. But I met a new person who brought up another person we had in common, a person who I had mostly forgotten about. I’m going to try and be vague here for fairness. But this person that we knew in common — how many times can I say person? — they had done some very hurtful, very harmful things to me.
And when I heard that name, I lost it. And I lost it big time. I lost it so quickly, so deeply. My eyes went black. I lost consciousness. I was just talking. You could hear my voice being like, “Oh, TONY! YEAH. I know that person! I know TONY. I know Tony from when he was my boss, and my husband was dying of stage 4 brain cancer. And TONY, Tony was concerned he might not be getting enough work out of me, even though I was working oh I dunno, 50, 60 hours a week? Again, while my husband was dying. YOu wanna know what TONY did one time? TONY one time heard that I was going to speak at St. Kate’s about marketing as a favor to yet another guy at work named Adam — this grudge is now about him too — who was invited to talk about marketing but didn’t think he knew enough so had ME do it for him. Unpaid. On my own work time. Away from my husband. Away from my child. Tony confronted me basically, brought me into a conference room and was like, ‘Well, if you have time to go speak at St. Kate’s and build your career’ — LOL — ‘some people might think you also should come into the office more.’ And I said, ‘Is that what you think, Tony? Do you think that? Do you think I`m not putting enough into this job while also balancing a dying husband. Is that what you think? Is it?’ And he balked. But then, when my husband went on hospice, Tony said that I would get FMLA but he didn't actually put me on FMLA, so my job wasn’t protected, and all the sudden I was a widowed single mom with no job. So yeah, you could say I know Tony, okay? You could say I know Tony. He basically played God with my financial and emotional future and I think he’s a piece of shit.”
So YEAH. I guess I’m still holding that grudge.
And I guess I somewhat ruined that social situation!
So that’s a bigger example, but I do still hold a grudge against also this teenager who took a basketball from my late husband when he was a LITTLE KID and kicked it across a highway.
I hold a grudge against the third grade teacher who described my hair as “dishwater blonde” in front of the whole class when in no way was I asking her to describe the color of my hair. And also, DISHWATER? Dishwater? Just call it ugly, lady! Also may she rest in peace, she was actually a lovely teacher and a wonderful human being but WOW that stuck with me.
I hold a grudge against the lady who yelled at me at Rocky Mountain National Park who yelled at me and my family. You know who you are.
I hold a grudge against the boss who made the women beneath him do all his work and took credit for it. Oh, I hold a grudge against that guy. I actually texted him last summer because someone reminded me of that, and I told him to fuck off forever, which my husband said was not the choice he would have made, but okay.
So this episode is about grudges big and grudges small. Grudges worth holding onto and those that should probably be released for your physical and mental health.
These are real grudges held by listeners just like you! And me. And we’re starting with grudges from childhood. Childhood, childhood, childhood. We are going to talk about the things that still grind your gears decades later. Ready?
We’ve kept all of these submissions anonymous — as anonymous as possible — to protect the grudge holders and whoever they’re grudging against. This first one is from an email, so I have to read it.
“My junior year of high school, my mom and I were arguing about something as we pulled up to the carpool drop off lane. (I think we were arguing about how I didn’t want to switch schools, because she wanted to send me to a tiny private Christian school when I was already attending the top ranked public high school and about to start the IB program.) And she turned to me and said, ‘You are of the devil.’” Oh my god. “And then I went into my Spanish class, and I was crying, and my friend Kaitlin drew me a cartoon of me as an angel with Maroon 5 lyrics. I asked my mom about it a few years ago and she didn’t remember the conversation, but I will never ever forget.”
Listener. How could you forget your mother teling you that you were of the devil?! Now get out of my car. It’s drop-off and you know those other moms are a little uptight, okay, in that lane. I will never forget my mother, Margaret McInerny, throwing the Destiny’s CHild mix CD I made out the CAR WINDOW, moving car, on Highway 100! She LITTERED to make a point! And that CD took hours to burn! Margaret. Hours. We’re going to address this in person soon.
Listener 1: My grudge story is actually kind of weird, because I am still very close with the person that I'm holding a grudge against. And I actually just realized, like, two days ago that I'm holding a grudge against her. The person in question is a cousin of mine who has been like a sister to me my entire life. We have been best friends our whole life. And when we were teenagers, we started kind of growing apart a little bit, because that's just kind of what happens when you're teenagers and things are kind of weird and you're hormonal and angry all the time. And she had started making other friends and I had started making other friends. And I had also started to struggle with my mental health for the first time, and I had started to self-harm. And I kept it to myself for a while, and finally I decided that I wanted to talk to her about it, because I was feeling really overwhelmed. And when I told her about it, we were on AOL Instant Messenger. So I told her about it. And her only response was, “I don't want to talk about this. You're being really stupid.” And then she logged off. So it was like she slammed an Internet door in my face, because if you remember on AIM, when someone logged off, it was like a door shutting sound. So it was especially heinous. And I just … we've still been friends. We're still close-ish. And recently she kind of apologized to me about the fact that she hasn't been a great friend to me. She didn't acknowledge the specific incident, but it's what kind of made me start thinking about it.
Okay just hearing someone DESCRIBE the AIM logoff sound triggered too many physical memories. That’s my dog barking by the way. Now I have a grudge against my dog barking while I’m trying to record. Let’s hear from our next caller.
Listener 2: I am trying to figure out how to not hold a grudge against my father-in-law. Some back story: My husband and I are in a very unique situation in that our in-laws were and still are somewhat very close friends. And so this meant that we spent holidays together, a very unusual experience, I know, and just spent a lot of time together. My husband's parents went through a divorce during the pandemic. And in the process of that divorce, I was very disappointed with the way that my father-in-law handled it and behaved. And the divorce kind of illuminated the reality that there is a difference between what you can say and participate in as a nuclear family member vs. a chosen family member. And so I kind of found myself in a position where I was not able to weigh in or to say anything about the behavior that I was witnessing, because I want to follow the lead of my husband and of his brother and honor their experience and not interject where it was not my place. But what this means now is that I'm having a really hard time moving forward, feeling the same closeness that I once did with my father-in-law, because I don't feel like there has been any accountability for how he handled his divorce and some people are choosing to just leave it and, you know, not get into it. And by default, I sort of feel like I have to, and there's no room for a healthy conversation, because there's no precedent set by anyone else to have a conversation about our experiences of a situation that starts with two people, but has had an enormous ripple effect on the ways that our family spend time together now.
Listener 3: My grudge is against my sister, who has always been very weird with me from a very young age. But as an adult, she told my gay daughter that my husband and I did not accept her.
Quick note: The her in this story is the daughter. As in, this caller’s daughter was told by her aunt, “Your parents don’t accept you.”
Listener 3: She assumed that we don't accept her, which is a lie. I don't believe God makes mistakes. My daughter was made that way. We love her. She knows that. But out of respect, when she told my daughter that at a luncheon that they went out to, my daughter kept quiet and yeah, that’s a hard grudge to swallow, to forget and to forgive. So, yeah, we haven't spoken in like three years because of that.
Listener 4: So, my dad and I haven't spoken in four years. He's a marathon grudge holder. I'm a marathon grudge holder. We got in a fight over the phone, and that was the last time we spoke. I did, however, send him an email in 2019 informing him that his daughter-in-law, my brother's wife, had died of pancreatic cancer. And then there's all sorts of resentment and grudges there to stack on top of the already existing ones. I don't really know if the relationship is salvageable. I don't know if I want it to be. I feel more at peace without him in my life. So it's this weird, conflicted feeling of letting go slash feeling an intense resentment and all the grudges.
That’s is a twist cone of grudges: a swirl of letting go and clinging on.
Listener 5: So I am the full-time caregiver for my mother, who suffered a devastating stroke in 2015. She needs round- the-clock care, full-time. And whenever this all went down in 2015, I was still holding down a part-time job just to regain some normalcy in my life and get out of the house a little bit and have some peers. And so all I was working was two four-hour shifts a week, and I had five family members that I was reaching out to for help to cover those shifts, to watch my mom. And out of the blue, they just stopped talking to me, stopped responding, and eventually told me that I was asking for too much help to take care of my mother, which would be their aunt and also their sister. So that went on for about three years. And then out of the blue, they just started talking to us again. And I just had to swallow it, because the relationship for my mother between all those family members was more important to keep intact than it was for me to harbor those feelings of resentment and anger and sadness, really, that my family had just dropped us by the wayside. And now we're kum bah yah again. Yeah, it's still a lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach when I think about it. One other note, my mother has short term memory loss, so she had no idea the entire time that any of this was happening. So they're all still, you know, top notch in her book.
A small miracle, that mom gets to still think these people are great. Oooof.
Listener 6: Hi, Nora. I'm calling to tell you about my grudge that I still hold almost nine years later against my dad for not coming to my wedding and essentially telling any and all family member that would listen to not come to my wedding. Thankfully, a few siblings did come, but all in all, it was pretty sparse on the family side for me. So, yeah, our ninth anniversary is this month, and I should probably let it go but still kind of pissed about it.
Happy Anniversary of your wedding and your grudge!
And speaking of parents, we have a good mother-in-law grudge coming up, which I always feel bad about because I’m 2/2 with amazing mothers-in-law. I really am. The first mother-in-law grudge was sent via email, so I’m going to read it, but it is NOT about my mothers-in-law. I repeat, this is NOT about Shar Bear or Mae Mae!
“It all started after I got engaged to my husband. The plan was to have a very small wedding party — just my two best friends since junior high as my co-maids of honor and my husband’s two best friends from high school as co-best men. Husband’s sister was going to be my bridal attendant. He was more than fine with this arrangement. We shared this information while visiting the in-laws one weekend in Wisconsin.
All was well until the Tuesday afternoon following our visit. Husband received a call from his mother at 11 a.m. hysterically crying because she wanted his sister to stand up in our wedding party. Her reasoning was that my sister-in-law was probably not going to get married herself, so she wanted her to have this experience in our wedding. Cool, cool, cool. I remember exactly what I was doing when I got the text from my husband that his sister absolutely must now be in our wedding.”
“And so my grudge began. 1.) She had the entire weekend while we were in town to share her feelings, yet chose not to do so in-person.” Agreed. That’s cowardly. “ 2.) She thought 11 a.m. on a Tuesday while husband and I were both at work was the appropriate time to broach the subject.” Honestly, this is … I gotta say, I gotta say, the two people who do this: People who work from home — me — and retired parents. “And 3. She made this part of our wedding about her and my sister-in-law.” Fully agree.
“Oh and it gets better. Come our wedding day, as I am about to head down to meet my husband for our first look, the same sister-in-law who wasn’t supposed to be...” I’m so sorry, this is so funny. “This same sister-in-law, who wasn’t supposed to be in my wedding party but now is after a major mom guilt trip, stepped on the train of my wedding dress and ripped the entire thing in half.” [laughs] I’m imagining it just ripping down the back like a banana peel. “The zipper holding me in was now non-functional.”
I had to be hand sewn into my very expensive wedding dress, was an hour late to my first look with my husband, had to take wedding photos that were supposed to be before the ceremony after the ceremony, and therefore did not get to eat ANY of the passed hor d’oeuvres during cocktail hour that I so carefully selected and was excited to eat.
Three and a half years later and I am still holding this grudge — for her passive-aggressiveness, for manipulating her son, and for inadvertently putting a major wrench in what would have otherwise been a flawless wedding day. I’m not sure I will ever fully be over it!”
Thank you, listener.
Listener 7: Hi Nora. I just watched your story about grudges, and it's ironic because I just got through sending my husband a pretty terse text about his mother who came to pick up our children while he's at work. We've been married for, it'll be 11 years in July, 11-year grudge for him because of the way his mother has treated me since we've been married and his inability to stand up to her on my behalf or for many years even acknowledge macro and microaggressions that she has displayed towards me. And so, I don't know if it's fair to say you're holding a grudge against your husband, but it's a barrier, it's a boulder, it's something that whenever I engage with her, which at this point it's very, very rare, and the behavior that she displayed always shows up. I just instantly feel mad at him. You know, at this point, my kids can feel it, everyone feels it, and I stay back, I don't go to family functions anymore birthdays, you know, I just completely remove myself from that behavior. But in doing that, I just get no support from my husband.And it's a grudge. It's a grudge, so much so that I could fantasize about, you know, detaching myself from his extended family officially through divorce.
Listener 8: So it was the early 2000s. I was a freshman in high school and I had worked my little short, uncoordinated ass off. And I had made the freshman basketball team. And I was so proud of myself. And we had our first home game. And it's worth mentioning that at the same time I had a crush on my best friend's older brother, which was not a great life choice, but I was 14. So you know, whatevs. I was also a classic difficult teenager. I had attitude problems and in my dad's words, I was insubordinate. So we play our first home game, and I decide instead of meeting up with my parents, who have come to watch the game, I am going to run off with this boy that I have a crush on into the front seat of his GMC Jimmy that's parked in the parking lot. And inside that magical GMC Jimmy, I have my first real kiss. Now, in the middle of this sesh, somebody's banging on the window and I look over, and it's a girl from my basketball team and she says, “Your dad's looking for you and he is pissed.” To make a long story short, I reunite with my parents and my father decides as punishment that this whole business with the boy was just the straw that broke the camel's back, and I need to quit my basketball team as a consequence for my actions. So I have to take my jersey and my shorts into my coach, who also happens to be the high school algebra teacher because, you know, rural high school. And it was absolutely devastating for me at the time. And now with some perspective, I can understand where my dad was coming from. But to be honest, I still hold a grudge. I think it was too much, too much to do to a young, hormone driven 14-year-old person.
Listener 9: My freshman year of college, I left my small town of [inaudible] Minnesota, and went to the big city of University, Minnesota — Minneapolis. I left my car home, to which my younger sister was allowed to use so she could get herself to work. And the first weekend that I was at college, she crashed the car, my car, that I paid for. I worked at Target and Coldstone and babysat. And what my parents did was simply buy her a different car, one that she did not have to pay for or work for. And she got a new car, and guess what? They never gave me another car.
Ah yes, the spoiled younger sibling grudge. It’s a tale as old as time, one that I cannot comment on. I may not comment because I WAS the spoiled younger sibling! Although I never got my own car. Never got my own car. That’s where my parents drew the line. And now, it’s time for a quick break.
Welcome back to The Grudge Book, where we are all sharing our grudges big and small, old and new. Now up: romantic relationship grudges!
Listener 10: Nora! This grudge that I have is over 10 years old. It is directed at an ex-boyfriend. We dated all throughout college and a little bit after that for five years in total. We had moved home in 2009 after college. We're living in different cities about an hour apart. And he was supposed to pick me up from the Detroit airport after I had gone on a trip with some friends. And he broke up with me via text while I was in the air telling me he was not going to be picking me up at said airport. So I then had to call my mom and beg her to drive an hour and a half to come get me in Detroit and then take me home. And I have since well moved on. I'm married. I've been married to the same wonderful person for about eight years. We have kids together. No longer yearning for this relationship of this past person. But God bless America, if I am still not just pissed about the way that relationship ended. He just left me. He just left me at the airport!
Okay I approve of holding this grudge. Texting? While you’re on a plane? And just NOT picking you up from the airport! And just not having a conversation in person! A coward!
Listener 11: So I'm in this relationship with this guy, and it's been about a year and a half and about a couple months ago, something happened and my trust was broken, and I felt like my boundaries were just broken down. And I decided to forgive him because it wasn't a huge deal. It was a big deal to me, due to past relationship trauma. And now every single time we have a fight or something comes up, I somehow bring that up, and he feels like he can't live a life without me bringing that up. And though I try really hard, it hurts really bad, and I feel like every time he doesn't text me back right away or when he's away from me for too long that he is doing something he's, quote unquote, not supposed to. And this is a lot about insecurities, but it's a lot about holding a grudge, too, because it's hard to forgive someone when they know your past and they still decide to test your boundaries.
And now for one of the richest categories … grudges against friends and former friends.
Listener 12: I remember having a birthday party. It must have been like, 3rd or 4th grade, and it was like a Hawaiian themed birthday party. And we were making like, these explorer hats where you would glue things out of the hat. And it’d be all like, fancy and everyone was wearing the leis and all that stuff. But I remember coloring in the hats beforehand, and we had like three pink banded hats and three blue banded hats and three girls at my party and decided that they were going to be the pink banded hats and that I wasn't allowed to have one. Mind you, this is my birthday party. And yeah, so I had a blue banded hat, and I remember how much that hurt me. And I still have pictures from that birthday party that when I see them, I still feel the exact same way, like how the hell did I get left out at my birthday party?
This is actually one of the reasons why I don’t throw friend birthday parties for my kids: Something always happens that’s messed up. Somebody feels left out. Kids get overwhelmed! I feel like it’s … you’re gonna have to hear my dog snuffing in the background, because she’s on my lap now. The birthday person gets overwhelmed. I think it’s actually incredibly emotionally overwhelming for a kid to feel like they are hosting. Kids don’t understand hosting. They don’t understand, like, putting other kids first. It’s your birthday! And then to have to open presents in front of other kids. No. Not at my house. We do family only, baby! And no favors. No themes. Box cake and whatever they want for dinner. That’s it.
Now … please prepare yourself for the next grudge. Because I CRIED listening to it. That’s how hard I laughed. It is a perfect grudge, and I look forward to all holding it together.
Listener 13: My senior year of college, I lived off-campus with nine other girls in a split level house. We had an upstairs and a downstairs bathroom on each floor. The upstairs bathroom became clogged. And I mean clogged as in overflowing feces everywhere. It was clogged by one of the girls from the downstairs who decided to crap upstairs and ruin our toilet. Now, the upstairs girls were in general tidier than the downstairs girls, so it was annoying that they came up and ruined our toilet. Then she took zero responsibility for it. So what we had to do was we had to go buy a snake at Wal-Mart. Nine girls lived in the house. Everybody was supposed to chip in like two dollars and fifty cents to get a snake and a professional, like, a decent plunger. So we ended up cleaning up this other girl’s feces — like one girl in the tub, one girl on the toilet. And she's like, “It's not my fault. It's not my fault. It's not my fault. We have bad plumbing.” No, it's not your fault. We have bad plumbing, and we have a slumlord in a college off-campus house. But it is your responsibility to clean up your own feces. Why should any of the rest of us be cleaning up your feces. Clean up your own shit, OK? That was in 1997, 1997 or 1998. Still think of it every time I come across a clogged toilet.
Attention, Pooper of 1997 or 1998 … we are ALL holding this grudge! You cannot let someone else clean up your feces when you are perfectly capable of doing it yourself. Okay? You cannot! You stood there! And allowed it. You were like, “Uh, yeah, I dunno.” I’ve cleaned up plenty of feces in my life for people who were not able to do it themselves. But you cannot stand by and allow your feces to flood the bathroom and let your friends clean it. You cannot subject hundreds of thousands of people to the word “feces,” which is the second part of this grudge now is that you forced ME to say the word “feces.” I don’t like that word. I don’t want to say it! Who raised you?
Listener 14: The day that I met my husband, my best friend from high school was throwing a dinner party, and she had just started at a giant airplane manufacturer and was trying to get to know the people that she worked with who were almost entirely male. So she thought, I'll have a fun little dinner party. And I was not yet working. And she also needed some girls to balance out all the testosterone. So she was like, “Hey, you, you're not working. Could you pick up the food for the dinner party? And I’ll host it at my parents’ house,” because she still lived at home because this was the early 2000s and that's what we did. And she said, “If you pick it up, I'll pay you back, and then we'll just have this fun, you know, meet and greet kind of a dinner party.” I was like, “Sure thing. Sure, no problem.” But I had just graduated from college and had no money and no job. So I did buy the Stouffer’s lasagna for this dinner party. I think I bought two of them, because it was a rather large crowd. And she never paid me back for it. Never. And we are still friends. We're not still best friends. But like, we were early mothers at the same time. Like, we were best friends, and she never paid me back for it. Now, do I feel like maybe I should just call it even, because it was that night that I met my husband, and he and I have been married for 21 years? Maybe. Maybe meeting your future partner for your life is equaled out, evened out, rather, by two Stouffer’s lasagna's. But I was poor, and I probably had like three dollars left in my checking account when it was done, and she just never even thought to offer to repay me.
Listener 15: Growing up, I had these two friends and they both lived on my street, and we were kind of a squad. Then one year, we all joined the same Girl Scout troop. And we were supposed to go on this camping trip for a weekend. I was really looking forward to it. I was super excited for me and all my friends, especially these two, let's call them Meredith and Cristina, to go on a trip all together for an overnight. It was going to be great. Well, that's not exactly how it went. Meredith and Cristina hung out with each other all weekend and for some reason decided to exclude me from everything that they did. So I was very sad and lonely all weekend. But the worst part is that when I got home, my mom told me that Cristina's mom had called her and told her that me and Meredith had, in fact, hung out with each other all weekend and excluded Cristina. Why this girl decided to lie to her mother and involve me, I have no idea. But it gets worse. Cristina's mom was a touch overbearing, and she decided that I needed to go over to their house to apologize. So my mom believed her and made me go over to their house. So basically, I sat in a private room in their house for what felt like eternity, and I had to apologize to Cristina for something that I didn't do and actually she had done to me. I'm still not over it.
Listener 16: There was a girl in my class who nobody liked, and I befriended her because I felt bad for her. Kind of let her into our friend group. Introduced her to all my friends. You know, this was like sophomore year. And then senior year out of nowhere, she just decided that me and two of our other friends in the friend group just needed to go and turned every single person against us. Got us uninvited from our prom group and just, like, ruined the full end of our senior year. And I still cannot get over the situation. I literally, if I ever think about her, I just feel like I want to punch her in the face. The only resolution I got from that situation was her dad apologizing to me at graduation on behalf of his daughter because he realized how horrible she was and knew she wasn't going to apologize herself. So, you know ... you know who you are if you're out there. Still holding that grudge like, 10 years later.
Listener 17: I'm just calling about a big grudge that I probably will never let go. I had a best friend, my very first adult best friend. I had moved to a pretty rural state. And she was my second love, after my husband. And she ended up moving away. It was my first big friend breakup, and she let me have it when we broke up. She made me out to be my biggest fears — a bad friend, a bad feminist, a bad person in general that did not support her during the times that she needed. And, you know, sometimes her voice is my voice of disappointment in myself. You know? That somebody out there does believe that I'm a bad person. Wow. Something to bring up in therapy later.
Listener 18: Hi, Nora, and TTFA. I was calling to tell you about some grudges that I have, two of them I can think of. I know there's more. But one specifically is my brother-in-law's best friend. We were working together on a professional project where I was being the contractor and supplier for items, and he was flipping a rental house. And there were some bumps in the projects like there always are. But he told me that, you know, he was pleased with what I did, that I did a good job. But when it came time to pay the bill, he threw a fit and threw me under the bus and called me into a face-to-face meeting with my brand new manager, who knew none of the backstory, and proceeded to tell my manager in front of me how terrible of a person I am and how terrible of a job I did in a professional setting. And I have never forgiven him for that. The other grudge is a female friend of mine who has inserted herself into every friend circle that I have. And so I can't seem to encounter people in group settings where she is not present. I explained some things in confidence to her and some insecurities, because I've known her since junior high. She then proceeded to talk about my insecurities to multiple people and throwing me under the bus about it, and laying out those insecurities as to why I am not a great person. I have not been able to hang out with her in a group setting, and I avoid most things that I know she'll be present at, because I don't want anything that I say to possibly come out and be used against me in the future.
Listener 19: Like eight years ago, we lived in a neighborhood. We had two dogs. One of them was like an English Sheepdog. She was great. Occasionally she would dig under our back fence and go to the neighbor's house and bark at them, because that's what dogs do. They bark at people sometimes. But we tried really hard. We tried to mend the fence. We're watching to see where she's getting out. It was fine. However, they decided to threaten to sue us multiple times if we didn't get rid of our dog. And so I figured, well, I don't want to be sued, and we're doing our best. And she's still finding ways to get out. So we had to rehome our dog. It was super sad. I was nine months pregnant, whatever. However, they had a little wiener dog. To this day, I hate weiner dogs because of this. They did not have a fenced-in backyard, by the way, or a fenced-in front yard. So any time I was in my front driveway getting in or out of my vehicle, their little dog would come up and try to bite my feet and legs. And he was mean, not just like nipping, like he would attack me, but yet I did not threaten to sue them.
YET YOU DID NOT THREATEN TO SUE THEM! You, my friend, took the high road. And I’m sorry about YOUR dog. Time for another quick break.
Okay, this is a new category of grudges that I’m calling proxy grudge or grudges by proxy? TBD. These are heroic grudges. These are the grudges that we hold on BEHALF of another person. A person who cannot or will not hold onto them themselves. Who knows if these things even bothered the person we’re upset FOR? It almost doesn’t matter!
Listener 20: I have a grudge that I feel like I shouldn't even be my grudge to have, but that's just how life is sometimes. A couple of years ago, my fiance's father passed away and his, quote unquote, best friend of life chose to skip the memorial service to go on a trip with his new girlfriend’s family to the mountains near where we lived, so very easy to cancel. And he still always like, “He's like my brother. We're best friends, blah blah blah,” and I’m like, “I don’t know about that.” My fiancee is like the nicest person in the world. So I feel like I have to, like, hold the grudge for him. This person is still in our life and going to be in our wedding. But we'll never forget that.
Listener 21: Hi, I'm leaving a grudge on behalf of my brother. My brother passed away about eight years ago, but if he was here, he would share this grudge with you. He had a friend who was dating a guy who nobody really particularly liked. And they went out to a bar one night, and my brother was wearing one of his coats that he really, really liked, but he had hung the coat on the back of the chair. At the end of the night, they realized the coat was stolen, and my brother looked all over. He was very upset. It was his favorite coat. I think it was suede or something. And this guy that nobody really liked said at the end of the night, “We'll buy it for you later.” And he turned to my brother and he said, “Sorry about your important jacket.” So my brother couldn't stop talking about this. He complained about this, he told the story to anybody who would listen. And years later, that same guy discovered that he had to have a kidney transplant. And when he told this whole story, it was really horrific and everybody felt bad for him. At the end of the evening, my brother said, “Well, bye, everybody.” And he turned to the guy and he said, “Sorry about your important kidney.” So that's the best grudge story I know.
Listener 22: Nora, you've been asking for people to share stories of grudges. And I have a particularly petty grudge that I've been holding on to you for roughly eight years. My friend had a son born to her and her husband, and she posted pictures on social media, and she and her husband were in the pictures and her husband was sweetly wearing a pair of cargo shorts. And another of our friends made some snide remark about those cargo shorts. And I thought it detracted from the sweetness that was this newborn baby. And I took personal offense to it, even though they weren't my shorts, wasn't my baby. And I unfriended the person who made that comment and apparently decided to cut him from my life completely. The parents of the newborn wasn’t even that offended, but I was so bothered by it, and I haven't spoken to him for now eight years. And that was the start of it. I honestly think I probably was looking for a reason to be done with him. But there you go. Commenting on someone's cargo shorts. That sealed the deal for me.
Oh my god, honestly. Yeah, the middle-aged men of middle America thank you. Old Navy thanks you. The cargo short Industry in general THANKS YOU. Big pocket thanks you. You are the hero they’ve been waiting for.
We are now ready to move into the category called work grudges. I still hold many of these and they will appear in an upcoming book of mine and I’m gonna LET IT RIP, okay? So if you’re one of the men who tried to take credit for my work in the past? Oooooh, get ready to read an unfavorable description of yourself!
Listener 23: One grudge that I still hold comes from almost 13 years ago. I have a 12 year old set of twins and I already knew I was struggling with infertility. And so I timed my infertility treatments to match up with the only good benefit of my job at the time. I was working for a nonprofit. They could pay me hardly anything. The health insurance was terrible, but they offered 12 weeks paid maternity leave if you'd worked there two years. So I hung on for two years before I really hit those fertility treatments hard. And then I got pregnant with twins, held on, didn't need to use any of my leave. It had them full term. I was so excited I would get three months paid home with my babies because twins are expensive. Only for my boss to say she didn't like the note my doctor wrote. And not only did I not get my 12 weeks paid, they forced me to technically resign and have to go on COBRA. So I didn't even get paid and it cost me money. And then they just rehired me after I was done with my leave. So that was fun. And it's been 13 years. And whenever I think about that boss today, I still … I'm going to admit, I have violent thoughts, because I thought women shouldn't do this shit to other women. Hopefully I can say “shit.”
Listener 24: My grudge that I wanted to share is one of my coworkers, we were on the same team and like, peers in our job. When I left that job to start my own business, she made a point to say, “I better be invited to your VIP event when you open.” And I remembered that. And nine months later, when I opened and had a special VIP family and friends invite-only event, I made a point to invite her, because she told me that was important to her. And not only did she not come to that event, she never came into the store ever. Not once. And any time I see her, that's all I think about.
Listener 25: My buddy and I worked for a very undertaker-like uncharismatic captain, but we had a good year together. And then the next year he said, “Hey, I'm going to go down work downtown. Y'all should come with me.” And I hate downtown. I hate the downtown station. I hate ladder trucks. But Tracy said, “Come on, it was a fun year. Do it.” So we signed up for the following year. What we didn't know was that he'd accepted the position already to be our department's therapist or employee assistance. He told the driver not to pick him, because he knew he wasn't going there. He wouldn't look us in the eye, and he would never admit that he was leaving, so the last three months of whatever year it was, 2004, he would just look away and not make eye contact and say, “Well, we don't know what's going to happen,” even while they driving down to pick out an office, give him office furniture, give him a new title. We worked the first day of the year, he didn't say goodbye. Would just refuse to admit that he was leaving. And he tried to do a good job as our counselor or whatever you want to call it, EAP. But I can never forget someone who A.) won't make eye contact with you. B.) has a wet, limp handshake and C.) lies to you about what is happening. And so he's now retired, but I will never, ever let go of the fact that he tricked us going downtown and then abandoned us knowing full well he's going to fuck us over. It was a very, very, very Minnesota sort of thing.
Listener 26: I have two current grudges against some coworkers. One of them is, frankly, it's too fucking friendly. Honestly, just like, I hate you because you're friendly, and you're not blending that with equal productivity. So, yeah, hopefully through mindfulness and self-awareness and getting to know them, hopefully, that feeling, this grudge will go away. My other coworker grudge currently is there’s this coworker, like, she’s always touching herself, and everyone, like, confirms that this is a thing. So I've always kind of been like, what's her deal? Does it matter? You know, just getting through the work shift every day, just like ignore whatever I need to know to get through to get my paycheck. And so one day I was I had been hearing that she was more often than usual. And lo and behold, she comes back from break and she’s pirouetting like a ballerina and just like clearly out of it. And so I and she's given someone, a baby sitter because they were afraid she might endanger herself. And so I'm basically three days later she saw how is she still here? And so I have a grudge that she was able to be completely out of it, whether she was intoxicated or whatever. And she saw her job and other people were fired for miscommunication between management about days off and vacation days that were approved or not approved. So, yeah, I work with her and it's fine. It's fine. It's not my decision, but it is my grudge.
Now, before we went to WORK we went to school, which is basically just an unpaid job for children. And I’m going to read the FIRST school grudge because it came through via email:
“I generally consider myself to be a pretty ‘forgive and not necessarily forget’ person, but I have one grudge from high school that honestly still makes me scratch my head to this day. So here's the background story: In high school, I did musicals. I was not a theatre kid, but what I was, in the musical theatre world, is much more extreme.” Oooh, can’t wait. “I was a talented trained dancer who could also somewhat sing. That meant I was able to secure solid roles as strong support characters AND shit on all the main actors whose only strength was usually singing.” This is great. I did not know about the cutthroat world of theater. This is all new to me. “So my senior year, after three years of getting those nice support roles, I was cast as a character with only two scenes and about four lines. No small parts, right? I honestly was hurt, but it was because the choir/musical director cast his daughter as the lead. I felt it was unfair, and I made him aware of my feelings.”
“Here's the grudge: Was I childish throughout this? Oh you bet I was.” Also though, you were a child. “But I showed up to rehearsal and honestly did my best, while making only a few smartass comments at the director and other cast members who couldn't remember their lines or nail their dance routines. So one day, the director calls an all-cast meeting before school with the sole intention of calling me -- a 17-year-old -- out for my "behavior.” Mind you, this man was a tenured teacher, age 55ish, and had the authority to simply ask me to resign. Instead, he wrote down everything I did wrong on the white board and it was waiting for me AND THE ENTIRE CAST when we got there. Then he berated me in front of all my peers, until I snapped, said he was pathetic and that I quit.” I’m proud of you. “Then he screamed at me outside about how much of a brat I was, and I maintained my composure and told him he was a very sad and small man for handling it this way and that I was a literal child, and he was the adult here.” And that is all true.
“I think I've not been able to let go of this for a few reasons: 1). It put me into a shame spiral -- imagine walking into a room and seeing every single one of your flaws on a chalkboard, written by a mediocre man who my peers happened to adore, and then having to defend yourself in front of everyone who now hates you.” I don’t want to imagine doing that at all. That is a nightmare. “2). He had an opportunity, as an adult, to handle it in a positive way, but instead chose to shame me to make a point.
“My husband always tells me to let it go, but I don't think I ever will honestly. It's not something that actively eats at me, but knowing he and so many other people in this world can do things like that without consequence is unacceptable. I teach dance on the side now, and I make sure my students know they don't have to accept shit from anyone, and that GOOD adults don't use their power to abuse.
Anyway, if you read this, just know, this grudge is my fire to change the world for everyone I come into contact with.” That’s good. That’s good. Then you don’t have to let it go. If it’s driving you to be better, that’s good. “And I still egg his house in my brain every time I have to drive by it.”
Listener 24: On the first day of fourth grade in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, we were divided up into reading groups by our skill level at the time. And as a just like, dorky little inside person girl, I was in the high level reading group, because I was already a voracious reader at that time. And my teacher came over to me when I went to the group I was supposed to be in and looked at me and said, “Oh, sweetie, are you sure you're supposed to be over here?” And I will remember that until I die, and I will have a fiery dislike of her forever. I'm not sure what she saw in me that made her think I couldn't read, but she was wrong. And eventually she went on Oprah with her husband and had sort of an embarrassing segment on there. So I did get some satisfaction from her embarrassing herself in front of Oprah, but I still dislike her.
Mmmm the sweet revenge of seeing someone biff it on Oprah after they tell you that you DON’T BELONG IN THE GIFTED PROGRAM. That sounds very satisfying. Speaking of which, did the gifted program mess you up too? Because it sure filled me with an endless need for validation! Just throwing it out there. I would love to do an episode about that. (612) 568 - 4441 — maybe that’ll be another episode?
Oh my goodness. What a day, what a day, what a day. I feel so honored that you all shared those grudges with me. I also want you to know that I never actually got to the next step with my therapist. Someone asked, “What do you do afterward?” I have no idea. I lost the notebook! I don’t know if there was some other symbolic step other than getting it out. But I hope that participating in this episode was like a little mini Grudge Book for you, and that you can release it into the wild of the internet and let it go just a little bit. Except for some of these, which do not deserve to be released and you can hold onto for as long as you want! I’m talking about the pooper of ‘97/’98.
You can always share your questions, comments, concerns, complaints or grudges with us at 612 568-4441. Also please know that if you are a TTFA PRemium subscriber, there is an additional whole nother grudge book episode with all new grudges waiting for you over at TTFA Premium. It will be out in the coming days. That one was really fun to record.
This has been “Terrible, Thanks for Asking. I’m Nora McInerny, and you are a lovely person. You really are. Our production team is Beth Pearlman, Marcel Malekebu, Jeyca Maldonado-Medina, Jordan Turgeon, and our theme music is by Geoffrey Lamar Wilson. We are a production of American Public Media. I’m also recording this with a numb lip. If it sounds a little weird, it should.
And I live in Arizona. I record this in my closet. It is warm. Sorry if you had to hear my dog bark. Sorry if you had to hear like, wiggle and snuff. SNIFF SNIFF. I don’t know if your dogs do that, but I have a shitszu and she’s always like SNIFF. It's just this funny little thing. it’s not a sneeze. She’s basically blowing her nose on me. I feel like it is extremely disrespectful, but what if it’s actually, because nobody knows what dogs are thinking, a sign of the ultimate respect? We don’t know.
Boop boop boop. I think that’s it. I think that’s it. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
JEYCA: Hey guys, this is Jeyca. I’m one of the producers here on TTFA. And I had a grudge that Nora said I had to record as a little easter egg grudge. So here it is:
Junior year of high school, the album AM by the Arctic Monkeys comes out. It’s a big deal, you know? All of us really love it. And I came into class one day, and a guy who was in the band with my boyfriend asked me what my favorite song off the album was, and I told him. And I actually couldn’t tell you what it is now, because I don't listen to that album much anymore. But he said, with the most shock in his voice, “Wow. I’m surprised you actually picked the best song off the album.”
What? I was so hurt, because how pretentious is that? And this is somebody that I was friends with. And I have brought it up to him since then. But I’m gonna never let it go. I never will.