According to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (pg.66) resentment is the number one offender for the alcoholic. Resentment comes from a Latin word “resentire” which means to “re-feel.” Surely resentment is an act of re-feeling past hurts and slights. For the alcoholic these resentments can be “fancied or real.” We can resent something that didn’t even happen! The Book also states that the feeling can be “fatal.”
Resentment can be said to be anger turned inward towards ourselves. We replay situations and conversations in our jumbled mind and work our way into a resentment. By doing this we are doomed to a life full of anger and unhappiness. By re-playing these negative emotions we shut ourselves off from the help of the Higher Power. According to the Book we must be rid of resentment, or we may drink again. Such is the power of resentments.
Forgiving others for fancied or real acts can be a daunting task. We must master these resentments but just how do we go about doing this? The best and most effective way to rid oneself of resentments is to take the 12 Steps. We ascertain who we resent and why. We have a list of people and situations that we harbor resentment for. We made this list when we did our personal inventory. The list was formalized and added to as needed in step 8.
Step 5 is where we find our release from resentments. We look at the part we played in a situation and see where we are at fault. We share this information with our sponsor or a closed mouth friend. In admitting our wrongs and disregarding the other person entirely we are able to start to feel a release from these resentments. In steps 6 and 7 we humbly ask the Higher Power to remove the things in us which are in the way of our usefulness to Him. We have out step 8 list and are ready to go to work.
We make face to face amends to others wherever possible. In some cases, it may not be possible as the person may have passed away or we do not know where they are. We are also careful not to re-injure others when making amends. We should go over this list carefully with our sponsor to make sure we are not going to do more harm. This can be said to be true especially of marital infidelity. Confessing our wrong to our spouse may give us some relief but may devastate them. We want to avoid this. We ask the Higher Power to remove this resentment after sharing it with our sponsor.
The key to making amends is willingness. We become willing to make our amends to others by forgiving them for past wrongs. In approaching someone in order to make amends to them, we admit our wrong. We apologize for it and state that it will not be repeated. Sometimes the other person accepts our amends and is glad we are now sober. Other persons may not care that we are sober and harbor a grudge toward us. All relationships cannot be mended. Some people will not accept our apology. We can still be free from this particular resentment as we made an attempt and were willing to do so. Remember that willingness is the key.
There is great relief to be found in making amends. We begin to feel lighter inside as we are not carrying around all this negative baggage. We are able to look the world in the eye without shame. We have made the effort to right past wrongs to the best of our ability. That is what is needed in order to free ourselves from resentments.