When I got sober four years ago I had no clue what having a resentment actually meant. So I googled it and in reading the definition I did not feel like it pertained to my drug and alcohol use. During my years of addiction and alcoholism I did not blame others for what I had living inside of me. I did not feel like I had any unresolved bitterness or animosity towards family and friends. Though I may be among the few, I took full responsibility in choosing to dive deeper and deeper into the abyss of my addiction. As long as I used, those feelings would eventually go away anyway.
However, during sobriety, you will find some, so be prepared.
When you sober up your senses and emotions have an reawakening, they essentially become reactivated. Things that did not bother you before, become bothersome. You develop a new sense of self-worth and self-esteem which means you wont stand for less than you deserve. You become aware of peoples reactions to you and how they treat you, hence, resentments begin to flourish. I read once that “a resentment is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Basically by nurturing these resentments you are only killing yourself, you are in short, keeping yourself sick.
So what do you do when you find one?
It is extremely important during this time to keep your sober network close. This is where a sponsor or a close friend in sobriety will help you develop tools to withstand these resentments. Having people in your life who practice a spiritual lifestyle is very important. My sponsor was extremely spiritual, she was a practicing Buddhist who did not tell me what I wanted to hear. She had no problem calling me out on my role, what I did to set that ball into motion. Being an open minded person, I would see it, feel it and own it. The majority of the time, the resentments would dissipate.
However, this does not always work.
I’ve had a resentment that has haunted me for these four years of sobriety. Though it has gotten easier to deal with, it is still very much alive. It would run through my mind day in and day out, what I would say to this person should I run into them at the supermarket, the mall or getting gas. Over and over I would have these arguments in my mind, drafted out like a speech just waiting for that opportunity. I would lose sleep, my moods would change when I thought about it and some personal relationships suffered because of it. I even drafted a letter to them, to tell them how I felt, in hopes that seeing it on paper would be a form of release. It, however, did not. The only thing that did happen was the desire to be free from it. My sponsor suggested I try the fourth step prayer. So I tried. I tried to replace the feelings of resentment for love, by praying for them. I was told to ask for everything I would want for myself, I would want for them. This was near impossible and did not last more than four days. I could not muster up the fake desire to have them get what they wanted, or what I wanted for myself.
So I found an alternative. I started to pray for the strength to overcome these feelings. I would pray for a spiritual exorcism, for guidance and relief, a daily reprieve, if you will. So far this has helped me. I suggest that if you have a deep rooted resentment that you try it. You may just be surprised how you can go a whole day, a week or a month without that unwelcome resentment becoming more than just a fleeting thought.
What is sobriety without the desire to be a better person; a happier, peaceful person. What is the sense of becoming sober only to be miserable and drown in your resentments and self pity. Choosing to be sober is extremely hard, the whole process is hard but you have been brought to this point. So do it right, and do it with strength and do it wholeheartedly. Become someone who has no strings attached to unwanted feelings, but become someone who has a direct attachment to their higher power.