Recovery from Resentments by Dr. Judy Redman

step 12 magazine resentments

Recovery? Recovery, from what? Are we referring to recovery from a tortured mind of confusion, shame, guilt, insecurity, and a host of maladaptive, impulse driven behaviors? Not to mention blackout emotions that leave us paralyzed in a vortex of darkness and pain. Or are we talking about recovering from addiction and its seemingly hopeless state of mind and body? It can be said, for many of us who share the “recovering addict/alcoholic” label, that these descriptions can be one and the same. Our mental obsessions and the phenomenon of craving may have even paled in comparison to the pain that was created in our own minds.

Unfortunately, we were not able see how we contributed to the infliction of pain and grief. We thought it was everyone else raining ancient pains upon us. We could not conceive that we were the ones generating the phenomena of unhappiness and anguish. Those dark lonely nights of bemoaning people who had harmed us came so frequently that it eventually became our norm.

When those good people in the rooms of recovery shared with us that we were responsible for our own pain. We cried out “No, no, no!” “You don’t understand how those people have hurt me.” “Yes, but who is hurting you now?” came their replies. Despite the wise counsel we received, it still took some time before we were capable of grasping the concept that we must do the work that would enable us to let go of our resentments. Resentment, according to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, is the number one offender, destroying more alcoholics than anything else.

The word resentment comes from the Latin word “sentire” which means, “to feel”, and when you put “re” in front of any word, it means “again”, so the word resent means “to feel again”. In our tortured state we would feel the pains of our past rain upon us on a daily basis. We relived the hurts until they became intertwined with who we were. We were not aware that resentment had the power to kill us or to take us back out. Resentment is a tragic enough excuse to drink or use. In its mildest form, resentment can destroy our spirit, rendering us only a fraction of who we were destined to be.

Thank God sobriety motivated us into right thinking and action. We learned to take direction, and we learned to follow the steps. The inventory that we were able to execute in our forth step, and the wise counsel that we received in our fifth step, empowered us with a desire to let go of our resentments. Little did we know, until that work was accomplished, resentments were something that we were clutching on to. Little did we know, we had the power to let go.

The second greatest gift, given to people who are willing to work a fearless and searching moral inventory, is freedom from resentment. We no longer have to carry our wounded selves around making excuses for drinking/using—anesthetizing the hurts, injustices, pains, and prejudices of our past. We learn that there are no victims in the program. We comprehend that we have a spiritual solution within us, enabling us to let go. We learn that the gift of forgiveness is freedom. Those of us who have followed those few simple suggested steps are truly blessed! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the rest of humanity were as fortunate as we are?

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