Don’t let resentment rule you

Lessons from a horse-eared protagonist

Elizabeth Carlton
3 min readJan 6, 2023
A teaser of one of the preliminary character sketches for Brekken Je’kovi.

Recently, I was doing a journaling exercise for a book I’m working on. It’s my usual method for building a new character’s voice, backstory, and personality. After all, what better way to get to know someone than to delve into their innermost thoughts?

Yet as his essence began to take shape on the page, I noticed a familiar chord reverberating through his words. Somewhere in the midst of fiction-coming-to-life was a personal lesson my heart was trying to communicate.

This isn’t an unusual thing. Even when writing fiction, I believe that our lives often inspire a thread within the tapestry of our stories. Mine certainly do. It’s hard not to when each of my characters’ development is centered around the theme of a particular emotion.

For Jaspur Clovenhoof in The Rogue Trilogy, it was bitterness.

For this new character (Brekken Je’kovi), it’s resentment:

“Like a pot of boiling water, it simmers in my chest. I lay awake at night with words unspoken echoing in my head. On the outside, I am cool and calm, but inside wages a war with tireless energy that threatens to tear my soul and my body apart.

This emotion will be the death of me. I know it. I’ve been drugged, burned, and beaten, yet none of it stings as white-hot and deep as the invisible seed she left behind. Watered with my silence, it grew even after I escaped…”

When I re-read these words, they gave me pause. I started to wonder who was talking. Brekken or me?

I don’t consider myself to be a resentful person. More often than not, I tend to lean toward being too empathetic. But lately, I’ve struggled with similar feelings, sparked by events that resurfaced old, deeply rooted memories of past experiences.

Perhaps that’s why I feel such a pull to put Brekken’s story on paper. Like him, I’m looking for answers because I know that the only thing these feelings are doing is hurting me. There is truth to the old saying, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

No matter how hard the storm rages inside of me, the only one who feels the rain’s sting is me.

So where’s the lesson?

I can’t speak for Brekken. At least, not yet. He’s only two chapters into his own story. But I’ve been stumbling upon some sound advice as of late that’s been helping me break through my waves of strong emotions:

  • Communicate. Silence is a prison. It puts bars around your emotions rather than giving you an opportunity to release and work through them. Also, problems won’t solve themselves, and you can’t expect those you love to read your mind. Talking through what you’re feeling and working together to find a solution is important.
  • Kindness Builds Bridges. When you want to yell and scream and berate someone, don’t. Even if you’re right and you believe your harsh words are well-deserved, voicing them will only deepen the chasm between you and the other person. Instead, take a moment to remember that they are human, too. No one is all good or all bad, even if all we see is one side of them. We’re all complex stories. Finding common ground while expressing yourself honestly is how we find mutual resolution.
  • Find and Embrace an Outlet. You never want to go into a heavy conversation while you’re still in a state of heightened emotion. However, you can’t sit and fester in them, either. You need a healthy outlet. Find a way to release them. For me, those outlets are boxing and writing.
  • Connect with Others. I’m the type of person that needs to be reminded of this, as I often isolate myself when I’m experiencing something heavy. Human connection is essential to our well-being. Lean into being present with your friends and family. Remember you’re not alone. Let that time with them remind you that there is more to life than that one all-consuming emotion and that there are good things happening, too.

Emotions, even the strongest ones, are temporary things designed to be acknowledged and then released. We all have that capability, but too often we cling to emotions. For the sake of our own health (physical and mental), it’s best we learn to ride the waves, then let them go.



Elizabeth Carlton

Author of The Rogue Trilogy | 16+ years of professional writing experience spanning journalism, SEO, marketing, research and fiction |