Resentment and Addiction

“Resentment is the number one offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.” AA Big Book, page 64.

On my palms are two broken blisters, one unbroken. They are still raw with the storm that the howling wind blew through me last night, leaving me shaking and exhausted in its wake. Adrenaline roaring up through my esophagus and out of my arms and mouth.

It’s been coming up for me that I need to let out some of my anger. I mentioned in my last post that I feel a lot of anger and resentment right now towards a certain person in my life. This anger and resentment hasn’t been apparent until… I’m not sure. I think it showed up in the last few months. Now it sits in the pit of my stomach like a great big ball of fire.

But honestly I am pretty sure it’s been there all along, masquerading as something else. In Fall 2012, I told my sponsor that I think for most of my life, I’ve been turning my anger inward. That’s why the self-mutilition as a teenager. I was turning on myself the same anger I felt for others. Making it my responsibility.

Then I found alcohol.

I was the fuel. Alcohol was the fire[water]. When I swallowed that shot of whatever, the burning matched the same intense feeling in my stomach. I forgot that fire doesn’t extinguish fire. At the time it felt like water in a desert. Now I have another perspective – that it was my own resentment at myself. Because I wasn’t allowed to have anger and resentment at anyone else.

Especially not my father.

Last night, I walked up a steep trail and found a tree by a creek. I knew, knew, knew that it was time to begin this. I picked up a stick and began to hit the tree. I let all the words I wanted to say fly out of my mouth as I cracked wood against wood.

When I was done (though not totally finished) I realized that all along, every shot I had poured back had been a “fuck you.” And then I knew why the Big Book says that resentment is the number one problem.

No matter where I directed that resentment Β – whether I turned it in on myself, or outward while raging at my ex-husband, or funneled it into the burning of alcoholic rancor – all of it culminated into a roiling mess of entitlement. I was entitled to drink because I was such a fuck-up, or he was such a fuck-up. Someone was a fuck-up, dammit, and that meant I got to drink.

For me, though, here’s the thing. I can stuff all that resentment down and turn it into a sword I fall on. I can explode outwards and spew resentment over everyone else. Or, I can take a few afternoons and go beat up a tree in the woods near where I live, and let the anger move through. Personally I think the last one is my best option; let the anger move through so it can be replaced with emptiness, which can then become a breeding ground for something else to grow besides entitlement and addiction.

Maybe something called audacity. Vitality. Life.


10 Replies to “Resentment and Addiction”

  1. Beautiful and I’m so happy for you that you are working through it. You should be proud of yourself. What you’re doing is hard work, but it will be so worth it in the end. “Because I wasn’t allowed to have anger and resentment at anyone else.” This really hit me. It was so true for me as well. I had to be the better person even as a child. You need to be allowed to feel what you feel.

    Hit the tree once for me. πŸ˜‰

    1. Thank you! πŸ™‚ I will definitely give that tree a smack on your behalf πŸ™‚ Interesting isn’t it, how we turn anger meant for someone else back on ourselves. I think this first came up for me when I learned about Gestalt therapy, who suggested the idea. It’s easier to self-direct sometimes than own our feelings towards others.
      I send those words back to you, too – you need to be allowed to feel what you feel! πŸ™‚

  2. The Storm does rage when we are in active alcoholism and can strike when sober. Anger does flash in me at times even now. Let me restate that. I get angry, we all do. It’s how I react to it and deal with it now that is different. I get my little hot flashes, don’t get me wrong. I might rage for a second, and then I simmer down. Breathe. Count to ten, etc. And if hitting a tree is the ticket, then go for it, my friend πŸ™‚

    Resentment is indeed a killer. I used to have those kinds of rages you speak about, but not just at one person. I collected dozens if not hundreds of resentments and carried them like boulders over my shoulders. No wonder I was cranky and out of it most times – I had all these things weighing me down. No wonder I drank…and I drank AT these people. How crazy is that?

    Learning to let go of my old resentments through the step work, and the new ones with step 10, I don’t have to go on tree (or door, or wall) bashing retreats. Can’t say that it won’t happen…lol. But being free of this things, Laurie…wow, what a much freer life we lead πŸ™‚

    Hope you feel better…blisters and all.


    1. Both a friend and my therapist had mentioned the tree idea… it was just high time I took them up on their suggestions. πŸ™‚
      Haha as for drinking at people – just my kind of crazy is what! I did that so often. My drinking took off more the more I drank at people.
      I’m just at a step 4, so this seems like perfect timing for this to come up. πŸ™‚
      Thank you! Peace to you.

  3. Hi
    I stumbled on your blog today while doing some spiritual blog surfing. Funny how one can find good orderly direction if one seeks it out. Seek and ye shall find, is what I think they say. I think we are all seekers. You helped me today.

    I identified with your post especially the childhood trauma turned around into self harm, deep anger and resentment part.

    They say our past is our greatest asset. I remember the first time I seriously wrote a 4th step. The pain it brought up, sober, un-able to self medicate was the fucking worst. I did not want to deal with it. I did not want to tell my sponsor all that……that…..stuff. How I really felt about myself and all the shit that just churned around in my guts for years on end.
    I hit the wall on some parts. I could not write it down myself. I needed help.

    It was a good thing that a few months before, my sponsor had me saying the 3rd step prayer. I was pretty much just giving it lip service at the time. I didn’t know if I believed in god or not or if god would even want to have anything to do with me. But I said the prayer. Mostly because my sponsor told me too and because I was afraid to drink.

    I remember that day I hit a wall writing the fourth. Couldn’t do it. Went on for days. Still couldn’t do it. Was at my wits end with mental pain and because I knew my sponsor was going to let me go if I didn’t produce it, soon. I remember getting down on my knees and saying that 3rd step over and over and begging “what ever it is” to help me write and to get over the fear. I don’t know what happened, but I picked up the pencil, put it to paper and the ‘stuff’ just poured out. Non stop.

    You know when they say, “No human power could relieve us”? That was one of those times.

    Thanks again

    1. Wow, Big Mike. I feel so honored, reading your comment! So thankful I could be of service to you today. That makes my day!
      And I get goosebumps reading the rest. What you wrote was of service right back to me. I’m just finishing up another 3rd step and heading into a 4th. Though I don’t anticipate it being as hard as the first 4th step I did, the idea that “no human power could relieve us” is so present to me right now.
      My sponsor this time around has done an amazing job in guiding me to sit with my powerlessness, then out of that realize that I cannot relieve myself of the obsession. It’s a place I honestly wish I had been at on my first 4th step. I was really just doing the work because I didn’t want to drink, the first time… really white knuckling it. I am Queen of White Knuckling.
      Recently though I came to another bottom in sobriety (with white knuckling, what a shock!) and was terrified to drink, so found a new sponsor. No more white knuckling here and it makes such a difference. I so deeply relate to what you talked about in hitting the wall – not so much the exact situation, but the feeling. I was hitting the wall hard when I found my new sponsor. Trying hard on my own to get rid of the alcoholic obsession, but so unable to.
      So this time the work is a lot deeper, because I’m not relying on myself to do it. That will greatly help in the coming weeks when I’m looking at resentment and (gulp) fear. Coming back to the idea that no human power will relieve me of this stuff will be key.
      Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so grateful for your words today!

  4. Damn, girl. That’s some serious writing right there and the last words gave me chills. I used to have a punching bag in my garage (still have it… just nowhere to hang it. dammit) and I would spend about an hour every night beating it until my knuckles were raw. I still have scars that turn bright red when I am angry.
    I think sometimes we have to do what we have to do in order to get anger (or whatever) out of us. Not every moment will be like the one you’re living, so don’t try to avoid it or deny it, just live through it and beat the shit out of a tree if you have to.

    1. Thank you! πŸ™‚ I wish I had space for a punching bag – that would be extremely helpful. Before the tree incident, I was looking up batting cages haha. Then I was out hiking and thought, “Well what the hell… now is the time.”
      With stories like ours, sometimes getting anger out physically is a really, really good idea. At least from what I’ve picked up so far of your story, if I were you I’d need a punching bag. πŸ™‚
      As a future therapist, I totally agree. Letting feelings come and move through is so much better than avoiding, repressing, denying. In my recovery program, we say “This too shall pass.” Sit with the feeling because it WILL pass. I like how you said it though. Not every moment will be like the one you’re living. Beautiful.
      Thanks for reading Aussa! Nice to see you here. πŸ™‚

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