By Diane Cameron
This week I had a big resentment. It felt awful.
The good news of long recovery is that I recognize resentment earlier, and I have more skills to keep it under wraps while I’m processing. But the other side of having these feelings in later recovery is the awful feeling of “What is this yucky stuff?” and “Why am I still getting hooked?” And then, there’s a shame that comes as my inner voice asks, “Shouldn’t you be over this by now?”
Yeah, you too
I also know that under that resentment—if I do the work—it is going to be some new growth. Sometimes the work I need to do is reading AA literature, sometimes it is talking to a sponsor or other women in recovery, and most often, it is prayer and listening to God. Sometimes it is all of those things, plus time with a therapist or counselor.
I love that at times like this a slogan will flash into my mind. This week while grumbling to myself in the car I heard this lesson from Alanon: “Holding a resentment is like giving someone rent-free space in your head.” Oh, yeah. Later I remembered my favorite: “Resentment is like setting yourself on fire and hoping the other person dies of smoke inhalation.” Those slogans also heal because humor—especially laughing at myself starts to crack open my heart for healing.
But I still felt very stuck. The resentment was around someone at work, so I needed to be careful. A great lesson I got from my very first sponsor was, “Don’t do anything you are going to have to make amends for.” I love that one too—having just enough pride in this situation I knew that the only thing worse than what I was feeling would be facing the additional agony of having to make amends to someone I was already mad at.
But still, I wanted the feelings to shift and I was doing everything: writing in my journal, texting my sponsor, admitting my ugly thoughts to a close friend, reading the Big Book. But no relief.
Then someone said, “Acceptance” and I thought, “Do I have to accept these people? Or these feelings?”
But here is the gift of making recovery a habit: I kept doing what I know to do. I drove to my home group meeting. In the car I prayed, “Please let me hear what I need.” At the meeting I raised my hand several times but didn’t get called on. I thought, “OK, this means that I’m supposed to listen.” So, I started listening as if my answer was in other’s comments. I heard “defiance”, and “ego-maniac with an inferiority complex” and I heard “alcoholics struggle with authority.” And then I heard a big Click! inside of me.
I was struggling with having things my way. I was resentful that someone else was getting attention. I was afraid that I wasn’t important. I was scared. I was just really, really scared.
And I knew then that I could change my prayer and I began to ask, “Help me to feel safe and to feel loved, and please, help me to be of service.”
And the crazy, mad feelings began to melt.