For some of us, before we began the process of recovery, we didn’t like a lot of people, places or things; especially any of those that got in the way of our addiction. For others of us, myself included, I am not sure I thought much about my like or dislike of anyone because I simply didn’t care. I was an isolator for the last three years of my active drinking so it became almost difficult to find anyone, or at least anyone new to resent in that period of time. People I did resent gave me reason and purpose to drink and if there was anyone new to resent, I would just drink over them, too.
When I entered recovery and heard the word resentment, specifically as it pertained to Step Four, I honestly didn’t think I had any. It is written in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that resentment is the number one offender and that alcoholics cannot survive if we continue to hold onto resentments. I didn’t really hate anyone; and, yes, there were people that I felt had hurt me and I wasn’t crazy about them and maybe there were people who didn’t like me but I didn’t care because that was their problem. So where were the resentments? What are resentments?
After I tried to convince my sponsor I probably didn’t have any resentments, and after she told me how wrong I was, I had to understand them. A resentment to me is an uncomfortable feeling. It is the bad feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think of someone past or present. Maybe it is a specific incident or maybe it is the total relationship that makes me itchy. In other words, I do not have to dislike the person to have a resentment toward them. My parents are a prime example. I love them but when I think back to my younger years, I can find many examples of resentment toward them. The problem with resentments is that acknowledging them isn’t enough. We need to rid ourselves of them once and for all. Before we can do that, though, we have to look at the resentment and know what part we played. A good sponsor will guide us through these resentments (Step Five) and trust that we will leave no stone unturned.
Resentments are such are part of our addictive lives that the 12 Steps keep us aware of them continuously. Steps Eight and Nine offer us the opportunity to make amends to those we have resented and Step Ten offers us the opportunity to daily reflect on these so that we do not have to return constantly (or at least for a while) to another Step Four.
I hate resentments. We all know (and have heard) that resentments are like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. I’m comfortable that I was able to get rid of old resentments. Today, even when I think I have it all together, I have this new resentment. When I sit down and put it to the tune of Step Four (identify the who, why, how it makes me feel and my part), and then do Step Five (tell another person) I know I will feel a lot better. The part that bothers me is that I know about resentments. I know that expectations lead to resentments and yet I guess I wasn’t listening to or turning my will over to my Higher Power. Big mistake! It is progress not perfection, isn’t it? The progress is that I can at least identify all of the facets of this resentment before it claims me as a victim.
A few weeks ago I came across something about resenting someone and it appears to have been written anonymously. No matter if your resentments are a thing of the past or you presently are where I am, these words should convince all of us that a resentment, any resentment big or small is just not worth it. Here it is:
“The moment you start to resent a person, you become his slave. He controls your dreams, absorbs your digestion, robs you of your peace of mind and goodwill, and takes away the pleasure of your work. He ruins your religion and nullifies your prayers. You cannot take a vacation without his going along. He destroys your freedom of mind and hounds you wherever you go. There is no way to escape the person you resent. He is with you when you are awake. He invades your privacy when you sleep. He is close beside you when you drive your car and when you are on the job. You can never have efficiency or happiness. He influences even the tone of your voice. He requires you to take medicine for indigestion, headaches, and loss of energy. He even steals you last moment of consciousness before you go to sleep. So—if you want to be a slave—harbor your resentments!”
Wow! How true is this? Can’t you just feel it? The “activity” this week is to look at today and see if you still have any resentments that you have not reconciled in some way. Write them. Share them. Just being able to tell all of you that I am harboring a resentment right now has helped to ease my heart and mind. Of course I still have a lot of work to do but thanks! I feel so much better.
Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.
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