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