"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." - Yoda
"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves" - Step 4 of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Good morning everyone!
Today I want to discuss resentments. Here is the basic definition of it.
re·sent·ment/rəˈzentmənt/noun bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly."his resentment at being demoted"synonyms: bitterness, indignation, irritation, pique, displeasure, dissatisfaction, disgruntlement, discontentment, discontent, resentfulness, bad feelings, hard feelings, ill feelings, acrimony, rancor, animosity, hostility, jaundice, antipathy, antagonism, enmity, hatred, hate.
Most people I have met use resentments as a defensive mechanism. A "wall" so to speak. It's something placed as a survival instinct in our brain to protect us from people, and issues that might hurt us. While some of this is VERY true, it can also be pretty darn exhausting to someone both physically, and emotionally. These are feelings someone in recovery don't really need festering within them, as it can easily lead to a relapse. However, resentments can still rear its head, and cause old, bad behaviors to come back that you had when you were abusing, even when you are NOT abusing.
Here's an example of something that happened to me recently.
In AA, they encourage you to have a "higher power as you understand them". For me, my "higher power" is my group, my family, and well... The law. I often say my higher power is similar to the Greek pantheons. I have many, not one. However, if you believe in your own kind of higher power, more power to you. Whatever helps you to stay sober! I recently celebrated six months of sobriety last week. It might not seem like much, but to an alcoholic/addict, six month can feel like 6 YEARS, so it’s a pretty big deal. At the end of the meeting I normally attend, a gentleman in the group approached me. He was critical of me not believing in his version of a higher power; the Judaeo-Christian version of (G)od. He then was worried that I would "go back out" (AA term for relapsing), if I didn't start believing and praying. Other comments were made to me, but this was the portion of the conversation that really bored itself into my psyche, and grinned my gears.
Being I knew he was trying to be helpful, and was genuinely looking out for my well being, I stayed silent and let him finish his speech. However, inside myself was a different story. I was like; “You know nothing about me”. “I am not you, and you are not me”. “You talk too much already at meetings”. “Is this a six month talk that happens to everybody”? “How dare you push your (G)od on me”?
And on and on and on.
I left the meeting feeling hurt, and betrayed by the program. Coincidentally, the pushing of someone else’s “higher power” was what made me (and has always made me) have apprehensions towards Alcoholics Anonymous.
I was raised Catholic (baptized, but never confirmed), and went to Catholic private schools up until graduating High School.
I know very well how faith can be a driving factor in people’s lives.
However, all through my childhood, I always remember asking myself “why doesn’t this feel right?” My only conclusion was that I felt it was wrong to tell other people that their “higher power” was incorrect and mine was. Admittedly, while I had always questioned the validity of my Catholic upbringing, the nail in the coffin, so to speak, was when my father passed away 25 years ago. He passed away due to pneumonia, but before this, he was for a lack of better terms a “vegetable”, from a massive stroke he had. He was in this vegetative state for four years - living at home - my mother was a nurse, but we had a near live in nurse with us whom was more of a parent figure to my brother and I. More than our mother was. Those four years (while it did have it’s bright moments) were some of the darkest points of my childhood. From age eleven to fifteen, my brother and I fought like dogs, I had no relationship with my younger sister, as she was shipped off to an Aunt’s home for most of the week, and I grew to really disrespect my mother.
These are all resentments that I have had for over half my life. While I have made better relationships with my family, I still have them at a arms distance. I love them all, but I can honestly say I do not trust them.
I trust (G)od even less.
THIS. This moment in my life I know is the epicenter of what created the cancer of resentment I still have with me to this day. It is what gave birth to my anxiety, my defensively mean sarcasm, and my mutant ability to have my emotions just *POOF*, become void in a flash.
It is what gave birth to my future as an alcoholic.
While working on step 4 and 5 with my sponsor, I aired these grievances to him in a moment of confession, which is part of the fifth step. It felt good to be able to tell someone that wasn’t family about this dark core inside of me. Even though I had aired them, I still have a hard time letting certain aspects of my resentments go; especially my resentment towards (G)od, And in a (though no one will admit it working the program) faith based program, this subject is a little difficult to fully be able to “let go”, as I don’t feel my current “higher powers” can really assist me in overcoming this. So when this “gentleman” in my group told me I need to find (G)od, I cannot blame him for calling me out on this, as I definitely do wear this resentment on my sleeve.
So, where does one go from here? I can speak to my sponsor, and my counselor about this, but I know that this is something I need to overcome internally. It’s a wall I NEED to get over, as a person who considers themselves an “agnostic, that leans towards atheism”, I acknowledge that I really don’t have a clue whether or not “(G)od” really exists. I just can’t accept that one person’s faith is correct, and another’s is wrong.
So maybe that’s my “higher power”. A living, breathing equivalent to Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”. A world where gods are created by someone believing in something so much, that it manifests into a “higher power” of its own, but can also dissipate as fast as they are created.
As far as resentments go, I am aware that this is a difficult one. Being there is no physical “being” that I can see and touch, like I can do in regards to overcoming my resentment towards my mother. Both take a large amount of courage, and inward looking to help you come to grips with it, but having something you can see and touch (for me at least), makes it an easier trip to overcome.
Anger and resentments are a part of our psyche that has been ingrained into all of us as a positive emotional state to be in. Especially in our current climate. However, the only true way this projection of emotion can fuel a positive benefit, is if you do something about it, and not let it ferment and fester for years.
Managing your anger and resentment is kind of like steeping a tea bag; Let it steep for the proper time, you get a delicious beverage that can have a ton of positive health benefits. Letting it steep for to long will just cause the tea to be bitter and unbearable to drink. Don’t be the tea that steeped for to long.