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Posted by on in Other Addictions

In the days of my drinking and drugging, resentments were my trusty tool, my reliable excuse. Resentments were my fuel for going on a spree or a bender. In a state of self-pity, it was easy to justify my need for numbing my pains and sorrows. When I got sober my resentments did not automatically vanish, instead it required some dedicated and thorough work to remove them. In 12 step groups it is said that “resentments are our number one offender”, which means that resentments are one of the most common things that keep us miserable and cause us to relapse. It has been said that a resentment is like “drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Whether you are in a 12 step group or not, resentments are something that need to be addressed to maintain sobriety and serenity.

What exactly is a resentment?

Simply, a resentment is a feeling of angry displeasure at a real or imagined wrong, insult, or injury. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.” Resentments are most commonly against other people who we believe have screwed us over or hurt us. These commonly include family, ex’s, bosses, co-workers, policemen, etc. When drinking, I often took everything that other people did personally. Some of us hold on to resentments that stem back to our childhood or ex-marriage. Other resentments include bitterness towards institutions and principles, such as religion, government, or the IRS. Some of these resentments are more justified that others, for instance if you’ve been cheated on or unjustly fired from a job. Whether the resentment is real or imagined does not matter, both types of resentments are equally deadly.

Identifying and Removing Resentments

The first step in cleansing ourselves of resentments is to identify our resentments. For some people, their list of resentments is a page long and for others it can be up to a dozen pages. The generally rule of thumb is that if something is still causing you to be bitter or angry then it is important to come to terms with. We do not have to write down every person who cut us off in traffic or the bully from first grade, unless it is causing us to still be bitter and ill-contented. Once we have identified our resentments there are a few ways to remove them from our lives. It is suggested that we look for our parts in the matter of the resentment. In matters such as divorce, it is fairly easy to find our part in the issue. Maybe we were insensitive, selfish, dishonest, hurtful, or unfaithful. It is important to put aside what has been done to you and instead focus on what you could have done differently. Once our roles in all our resentments have been identified, we then pray or ask our higher power to remove these resentments. We ask forgiveness and blessings for the people in our life and slowly our resentments diminish.

The principles behind working through our resentments and putting them behind us is about breaking the pattern of self-pity and to stop playing the victim. We learn to take responsibility for how our life has turned out and stop blaming people and things around us for our misery or misfortune. When we take ownership of our lives and our happiness we experience a sense of empowerment and freedom. Those old resentments no longer have a control over us and won’t weight us down with pity. We are freed from the shackles of the past and can focus on what is in our near horizon.

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

There have been many times in my life when words or phrases came to mean something other than what many understand them to mean.  Off the top of my head I can think of a few examples.

My husband and I communicate in ways often causing our friends to do a double-take and wonder what in the world we are talking about.  For example, I might be in the living room doing something and yell down to my husband in the basement to bring me “that thing next to the big thing.”  Seconds later he hands me exactly what I needed.  We share a language created during our many years of living together.

Another opportunity to share a unique means of communication is in the work environment.  When I was still active in the corporate world, my team of many years knew exactly what each other needed or what we meant by a simple nod of the head or a raised eyebrow. We had spent hours together creating, editing, masterminding and learning to trust one another.  In all that time we eventually understood things without needing to say a word.  When we were in situations where verbal connection wasn't an option, those non-communication actions spoke volumes.  I was somehow comforted by this; feeling a sense of security knowing I was part of something uniquely special.

When I was drinking and rarely eating, there was a lot of conversation in my head which was uniquely special for me too.  I never shared these ongoing internal dialogues with anyone because I couldn’t explain them.  I had a difficult enough time myself just trying to understand how and why the subject matter would roll back and forth like a pendulum. One moment I’d be justifying my irrational behavior and the next I’d be mentally berating myself for having such thoughts.

I carried on with this silent metronome of conversation for years.  I was absolutely certain if anyone else could hear what I heard, they’d consider my train of thought not only foreign but nowhere near normal.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Being in an intimate relationship in sobriety is difficult to say the least.  Relationships are like steroids for my character defects; they cause them to grow more powerful than I imagined possible.  From jealousy to control issues, my need to be right to my need to know everything, my character defects really come to light in relationships.  However, being in a relationship has taught me a lot, and my growth has been great.

Keys to My Healthy Relationship

With my character defects glaring me in the face in this relationship, I have found several important keys to keeping the relationship strong and healthy.  As with the rest of my recovery, I must remain vigilante with myself in order to sustain this healthy relationship.

Communication

The first, and most important, tool in my healthy relationship is communication.  Communication is an absolutely indispensable tool in my relationship.  Obviously, this applies in the sense of not lying, straightforward nor by omission.  However, communicating goes much further than telling the truth.

In order to maintain a healthy relationship, communication must go both ways.  I must walk through my (often irrational) fears, and be able to communicate how I feel.  Remaining considerate of her feelings, I tell her how I feel, whether I am upset (with her or not), happy, anxious, or dealing with something.  She is not my sponsor, nor is she my Higher Power.  However, she is an integral part of my support network.  Furthermore, when I hold things in too much, it closes off my heart to her.  As my heart fills with fear and resentment, my capacity to love is diminished.  As I become able to tell her how I feel and what is going on with me, it frees my heart up to be filled with love.  It is not always easy, as fears of being judged, not being enough, and driving her away do arise.  However, I consistently walk through these fears, and each time the fears are easier to overcome.

Also, I must be open to communication from her end.  As important as talking is to communication, so is listening.  When she speaks to me, whether it is a casual conversation or something more serious, I make a diligent effort to listen mindfully.  My reactions are not always compassionate and loving, and it is something I am consciously working on.  I find that as I listen with more mindfulness, I am able to respond with more compassion rather than reacting with fear.  When I react with fear, I am not encouraging a safe, open environment.  Just as I go through fears sharing my feelings, so does she.  It is not within my control whether or not she will be open and honest with me, but it is within my control to encourage a safe space to nurture the love rather than the fear.

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