The Basic Text of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us that a resentment is the number one killer of an addict.
The first action step of the 12 Steps requires me to begin an inventory. Part of that inventory is making a list of resentments I have towards people and/or institutions.
Before listing my resentments, I figured it would be good to know what exactly a resentment is. The root word of resentment is sentiment. A sentiment is a feeling. So a resentment is re-feeling something over and over again. As humans we tend to forget things. Part of addiction is not being able to, “differentiate the truth from the false” (Big Book, 1939). As a resentment grows I tend to exaggerate what happened and I become more and more the victim.
What a recovery inventory does is force me to do something I never would of thought of – look at what part I played in the resentment. Nine times out of 10 it was my own self-centeredness, fear and stubbornness that was the catalyst to the situation that caused the resentment.
For example, I had a big resentment towards an off-duty police officer who followed me for approximately 45 minutes from one city to an other eventually charging me with a DUI. The arrest wasn’t exactly by the book and I could have made an assault charge against her. I carried this resentment with me for years.
When I did my first Fourth Step I realized that “A”, She wouldn’t have followed me in the first place if I hadn’t been breaking the law by drinking and driving. “B” if I hadn’t broken the law the assault wouldn’t have occurred. And, “C”, I could have done something regarding the assault but I was more interested in getting drinking/drugging and complaining to whomever would listen rather than moving forward with the proper steps. This story allowed me to be the center of attention whenever I retold it – and what addict doesn’t love being the centre of attention?
But what about the small percentage of resentments that I had no part in?
Be it, some type of abuse, betrayal or trauma. I still have to rid myself of these resentments as they have power over me. A perceived justified resentment feeds my disease in telling me I have a just reason to drink/use. Letting go of these type of resentments doesn’t mean I accept the behavior of the person who wronged me. Physical, emotional or sexual abuse and betrayal is never acceptable. By letting go of these resentments I’m giving up the power those traumatic events have over me. I am letting go of an anchor that is weighing me down.
The Big Book also tells me that anger is a dubious luxury of others. When I get upset over someone insulting or slighting me I am attaching myself to a belief that they must be correct. By realizing that whomever is slandering me is still spiritually ill I am detaching myself from that person’s word.
When I did my first Fourth Step I had a lot of resentments but no longer. If am a working a proper 10th Step my resentments will be few and far apart. By promptly making my amends I get rid of my anger so that it doesn’t stew within turning into a resentment.
My mind is constantly filled with thoughts making it hard to stay in the moment. When I add a resentment to that committee of thoughts I’m making it that much harder to stay in the now.