A few of my fellow members in SA asked me how to find freedom from a life filled with angry, unsympathetic, and unloving people. They shared their feelings of resentment toward others who seem to be surrounded by caring, sympathetic, loving people.
This resonated with me -- or at least, it resonated with the “me” that used to be. I had a father who never told me he loved me until he was in his dotage. I hated him and avoided him most of my life. I felt that my mother smothered me and would not let me grow up. As an adult, I avoided her also. It seemed that I never had any real friends, and the few friends I had were the undesirables.
Later in life, my wife seemed to want more from me than I could possibly do, and she did not like doing the things that I loved to do. I resented everyone for their unreasonable demands. I wanted to be free from them. But through SA, I have discovered that much of this was my own perception.
“Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt. So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making.” (AABB p.62)
My resentment was eating me alive from the inside out, and it was doing nothing at all to those people.
Even worse, even if one of those people was truly evil, I cannot do anything to change them. I can only change me.
“It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while.” (AABB p.66)
I found it amazing, when I read these pages, how the AA book so accurately describes me. Just as if all of those old AAs actually knew what went on in my head. Perhaps it was simply that my perceptions and problems with resentment were not so unusual after all. Perhaps these other addicts suffered from exactly the same problems.
If my resentment is eating me alive, then the appropriate solution is for me to do something about the
resentment, rather than trying to do something about those people.The solution for my resentments is in Steps Four through Nine. Having done those, and continuing to do Step Ten as needed, I can honestly say that I live a life these days that is (almost) completely free from resentment. I am no longer weighed down by anger over the past,or worry over the future. The Steps do work on resentment. They work very well.
(Sober since Feb 2014)