A couple of weeks ago one of the women who consistently attend the Monday night meeting asked to see me after the meeting. She has been sober for over ten years but only recently made the decision to attend meetings, get a sponsor and work the steps. She will admit that she was a dry drunk but as long as she was dry, life went on.
Her purpose in talking to me privately was at the suggestion of her sponsor. I imagine her sponsor said to pick two women and I was one of them. The nature of her wanting to talk with me is not important but the conversation that ensued turned out to be very important. She is working on Step 4 and has been terribly upset and confused by her resentments. I donít know what they are as it is not my business to know but I do know they are old and deeply rooted.
We all know that this isnít new. Most of our resentments are old and seated deep within us. I know many people in recovery have a difficult time with Steps 4 and 5 and, God knows, Iíve written enough about them. But here I am writing more because my friend revealed her fear of the step(s). Honestly, it was a fear I didnít have but you might have had or perhaps have today.
Her fear is that she will work these two steps and her resentment(s) will be as strong as ever. If her resentments remain strong, then should she wait and work these steps later in the hopes that she can work these out through prayer and work with her sponsor? Yet, if she doesnít continue working the steps as she should, she remains in that limbo she lived in all of those years and risks her sobriety.
Thinking about her words and my own experiences with the steps and resentments, I told her what I thought and her response was, ďNo one has ever said that before.Ē Since 12 Step programs do not have rules, I could only tell her how I felt about her concerns. I have since hoped that I did not tell her anything her sponsor could not support as she would then be totally confused. This is how I see it, though.
Iím jumping ahead to Step 9 and we know that we compartmentalize our amends. There are some we do immediately and some we may never be able to do but as time goes on, the difficult ones may not be as difficult. Well, when I look at resentments in Steps 4 and 5, I believe we follow the ďsuggestionsĒ of the Big Book, write our columns (adding that most important fourth column) and dig deep to put these resentments out there. There is nothing, however, that says because we tell someone in Step 5 that these resentments somehow disappear. Discussing our resentments and dissecting the who, why, and our part brings us closer to letting them go. Do they disappear all because we talk about them? Do they disappear immediately because we work Steps 6 and 7?
Resentments are definitely a foe and a real danger to any addict. Like our defects, there may be a resentment or two that we donít want to let go. That is definitely dangerous. Putting our resentments out there, though, because we are doing a thorough, honest inventory and talking about them is different. But it doesnít mean that they disappear. Here is an example: many women I have worked with or talked with in recovery were sexually abused as children. These women have huge resentments toward their abusers and who wouldnít. Do you think that one round of Steps 4 & 5 will eliminate all of these resentments? My answer is absolutely not! These take time. Of course, the sooner the better but I know of women who have taken years to rid themselves of these resentments because in these cases, it is also about forgiveness.
All things are possible with God. We truly do not have to live our lives in resentment. There is much work we sometimes have to do to eliminate a resentment. The inventory and talking to another person is a beginning. Then there are all of the remaining steps which include prayer and meditation. The point I would like to make here is this: donít be afraid of Steps 4 and 5 because you have deep seated resentments that are not going to disappear instantly. If you think that everyone in recovery woke up one day and all of our resentments were gone, you are so wrong. Remember that we are all human. All because we are working a program as best we can, doesnít mean we change instantly. Resentments like defects may take time.
Donít procrastinate any of the steps out of fear. Fear is the very thing we want to conquer by working the steps. It is progress, not perfection. Do the very best you can. As the Ninth Step Promises get closer, you will see that perhaps God did for you what you could not do for yourself and the resentments you obsessed over are farther and farther behind.
Namasteí. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.