Resentment is a poison you give yourself hoping someone someone else will die.

image I know this for a fact … I poisoned myself this weekend and no one else died. It just froze the joy out of my weekend. Resentment is like that. Anger burns. Resentment is cold and hard and casts a chilly pall over everything it touches … except the person you resent … they are, of course, oblivious. You’d think after 20-something years working the 12-steps, I’d have no resentments left but of course, there are a few hiding in the darker corners of my heart. This one is particularly vexing, since it’s a resentment for something done to someone I love, not to me. Yeah, freakin’ wonderful … a codependent resentment. It’s gotten in my way on several occasions before so it’s time to root it out.

I Googled resentments just to see what would come up and along with an assortment of 12-Step and psychology pages was this ad from e-bay. OfRESENTMENT course, e-bay’s ad just takes whatever subject you’ve searched for and inserts it in their all-purpose advertisement, but still, it was funny. I mean, imagine, Great deals on resentments with a Buyer Protection Guarantee. What more could a curmudgeon ask for? Besides the e-bay ad, I found an article on LifeHack.com titled How to REALLY Let Go of a Resentment that offered a four column method. Column 1: The resentment and who it’s against. Column 2: What they did to create the resentment. Column 3: How the resentment affects your life. Column 4: Your part in the resentment. Sound familiar? That’s because it appeared in the AA Big Book 55 years before the LifeHack article was written (which the article acknowledges). Yes, Column 4 is indeed a bitch and yes, you always have a part, even if it’s taking personally something that has nothing to do with you (who me?). LifeHack concludes that The purpose of this writing assignment is to experience freedom by letting go of secrets, fears, and lies which we have been holding onto, and getting these issues out of our heads, and onto paper. What is done with the paper afterwards is up to you. Some people choose to share it with a trusted friend; others burn it as a symbolic gesture of surrendering those feelings.

It may be that simple for garden variety resentments but not for those that lie in wait to ruin a perfectly good weekend.  Sometimes, to get to our deepest feelings, we need to write a letter to the subject of our resentments, a letter we swear to NEVER SEND (Yeah. Go ahead … let it rip but don’t send it). We may have to spend some time figuring out exactly what it is about us … in 12-Step parlance, what Defects of Character … make us hold onto the resentment. My friend, Ralph tells me that whenever we hold onto a resentment or defect of character, there is a payoff. Perhaps we get to feel superior to the other person or it keeps us from facing our own issues. We may have to make amends to the very person we resent for our own part before the resentment abates, and if that doesn’t suck enough, sometimes, the only way to get there is to pray for the person we resent. That can be incredibly hard but I can tell you with absolute certainty, it works.

Of course, those deep-seated resentments are never easy.   But I’m determined to let this one go. Wish me luck.

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3 Comments on “Poisonous”

  1. jenihill Says:

    Getting rid of resentments -or walking away from things that annoy us -can be a really rough step to take, for sure. Since I first got involved with Al-Anon oh, about 38 years ago now, one of the slogans that I’m sure you are very familiar with that has become easier for me to deal with (Let go and let God) various situations has become my mainstay over the years. I’ve tried to instill that theory into all three of my kids, as much as possible and pretty much have 2 out of 3 of them who try to live by those words. The oldest one though is a tougher nut to crack and she still has a big tendency to hold grudges and resentments a lot of the time. But slowly -maybe it comes with age -she’s picking up here and there that by doing things the way she has been, she is actually hurting/harming herself much more than she is the person (or things) that she’s upset with. Turn it over, work on it as you feel the need exists or when there’s an opportunity to make a little change. It may take a long time, but eventually you will clear that hurdle.

  2. I do wish you luck. I wonder, in the four-column process (which I think mature, responsible, self-aware adults all use in some form), what happens after column four. I find that, when I come to know my role, that’s the part that’s difficult to wrestle. How does one avoid resenting oneself? How does one restore one’s trust in oneself?

    • oldereyes Says:

      Well, for one, you do a four-column on that resentment and discover that your part is that you are too hard on yourself. But, yes, those self resentments are the toughest.

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