When I first got sober, I heard a lot about how resentments are the “number one offender” and a large part of the reason why a lot of people relapse. It didn’t really make too much sense to me, as I always considered myself a guy who was pretty easy to get along with. Little did I know I was also a huge people pleaser but that is for another article.
When it came to doing my fourth step, I honestly thought I did not have much resentment toward others in my life. Sure, there were the people that stole and lied to me while I was using, but I was able to see how I got myself into those situations pretty clearly. Yet when I really sat down and did the work, I found that I really did have an issue with most of the people in my life for one reason or another.
I have been especially blessed during the last two and a half years in sobriety. I have been surrounded by people who practice a spiritual lifestyle because of my support community as well as being able to work in the field of recovery. Because of this, rarely, if ever, does a resentment form where it does not get squashed quickly. Through practicing the 10th step and learning humility, I almost always apologize and make amends immediately and many of my friends and colleagues do the same.
How I Used to Deal with Resentments
When I used to get high, resentments would come and go. No matter how angry I was at a person, so long as I got high it would become small enough for me to ignore. I never dealt with them properly and as a result I left a lot of wreckage behind me.
But this is real life we are talking about, and real life comes with situations no one wants to have to deal with. Recently, I had to deal with one of the largest resentments I have experienced in sobriety, let alone my entire life. Now that may seem dramatic, but let me explain why this resentment has taken such a hold of my life.
I won’t go too far into the particular details, but a situation came up between my roommate and myself where I was put in a position where physical violence was imminent. I knew that the person was prone to violence and that my tone of voice and things I was saying might get him to that point. I own that, yet I did not actually think that it would escalate as far as it did. As a result, my living environment had become a place of unease, tension and fear. A situation no one would like to find themself in.
The thing was, it wasn’t even the situation itself that got to me. It was the time afterwards that I spent thinking about what I could have done, what I should have done, what I will do later and how I could “get one over” on them. I found myself thinking about the resentment day in and day out for over a week. I would come home, lock myself in my room and hope that I wouldn’t even have to speak to anyone. It was distracting me from my relationships, my job and my responsibilities. It was slowly eating away at me and before long I knew I was in trouble.
How I Deal With Resentments Now
My grand-sponsor uses a line in a lot of his pitches when he speaks, “There will come a time when you are reduced to prayer and meditation.” It didn’t matter that I had money in the bank, a loving girlfriend, a nice car and a place to live. I was so distraught by a resentment that my life was becoming unmanageable. I had to delve deeper into prayer and meditation than I had before, simply because going to another meeting, calling my sponsor one more time or picking up a commitment simply was not going to help my situation.
What prayer and meditation have done for me regarding resentments has been immensely powerful. I pray for the resentment to be lifted and meditate while focusing on being able to handle situations with the person respectfully and with careful forethought. Since then, I have put in the necessary work to change where I am living and move forward with my life. My roommate has done the same.
I try to learn from these experiences as much as I can, no small part of which is acknowledging my part. When I am able to see what I have done wrong and how I could have handled it differently, I focus more on bettering myself and less on attempting to “get even.” This has been an incredible learning experience for me, helping me to not only better my own life but the lives of those around me as well.