Well I got another creepy e-mail. This one was from Resentment.
To: Tamara Evans
Cc: Addiction, Relapse, Death
Subject: How’s that working out for you?
Oh hey. It’s your not-so-new friend Resentment. How you doing?
Pretty good, huh?
So, I’ve been on your mind a lot lately. I hear some bullsh*t about how the fourth step of this twelve-step program you’re doing will have that effect. Personally, I like it. Relapse and I have been talking, and she tells me that it makes our good friend Addiction SO happy when I’m on your mind. He just goes on and on about how the closer I get to you- the more you let your resentments in- the more likely you are to meet up with my girl Relapse. Which is why I cc’d Death in this email. Relapse and Death have been dating for a while. He has side chicks, I’m sure of it, but they’re like totally in love or whatever.
Anyway, back to you.
I’m not a fan of this whole living in spiritual principles thing you’ve been working on. It really limits my reach. I’ll be able to get you going about how someone or something has done you wrong, and then you’ll head back to some place in your head I can’t go… it’s too calm and bright for me there. I like it when you come join me in the darker corners, where we judge others and resent the world for not giving us what we are sure we are worthy of. And people! OH, PEOPLE!
How they irk me. I like sharing that with you; friends who aren’t friends, people who aren’t who they say they are… when I truly own you is on the occasions when I can own your mind in obsessive thoughts about what other people think and say about you when you aren’t around. What’s true, what isn’t true… if I can bring you down via gossip, sink you to the level I need you at to deliver you to my good friends Relapse and Death, oh wouldn’t that be my victory.
But lately you resist.
Why, my dear?
Don’t you enjoy when you just know you’re right? When you judge others? When you can tell them how wrong they are? You like to set expectations for people, even when you know they will fall short. You LOVE to distance yourself from your own failures by focusing on the failures of others. You know this means drinking the poison, dear, but it tastes SO GOOD.
Stop all of this spiritual nonsense. When you extend that light and love towards other people, especially towards the ones I’m targeting, it really takes my power away.
I hate that.
Come back to me, I miss you. We can play in the dark corners together, and never have to dwell in the light again.
Ohhh, my dear “friend” resentment. You bitch. Resentment is on an eternal mission to keep me looking outside of myself to find out what is wrong with me. Just take a moment to appreciate the insanity of that statement. When we feel we have been wronged by a person, institution, thing, animal, plant, deity, or whatever, we tend to hold ‘grudges,’ and when we place expectations- especially on people (and ESPECIALLY on fellow addicts or alcoholics)- we are often lining ourselves up for a future resentment. It is often said that resentments take people back out into active addiction more than anything else. So, here’s my recent/ongoing experience with some resentment of my own…
I! CANNOT! CONTROL! THE! ACTIONS! OF! OTHERS!
When you actually accept the truth that what other people think or feel about you is none of your business, you’ve reached a level of freedom that ushers in some peace and emotional stability. Worrying about what is potentially being said about you in your absence, by people or a particular person is a waste of time and energy.
This hasn’t been an issue for me in my life in general or in recovery until recently, when I discovered that someone I had considered a friend was saying some pretty unkind things about me, which inevitably made it back to me. I was pretty devastated. While that person’s actions were very telling in regards to their character, this whole situation has put me on a journey of self-discovery that has become more central to the story, as it would turn out.
I initially became quite obsessed with the problem as I saw it: simple! Someone else is the problem. I’m lucky I’m working a 12-step program, or it would have stopped there. First, things are not always as they seem. We do not get to decide whether we have caused a person harm- you can never say “I didn’t hurt you!” to another human being, plain and simple.
So, lesson 1: Maybe I have caused this person harm and I cannot see it or don’t yet know it.
While this doesn’t necessarily excuse their behavior, it is not my job to pass judgement on whether I’ve somehow put myself in the path of this. I trust my higher power and I trust that if I work to keep my end of things clean from here on out, I can prevent myself from intentionally causing others pain or making anything worse.
As addicts and alcoholics (or even just as human beings) we often act out towards our fellows in an attempt to deflect from our own feelings of pain, loneliness, inadequacy, fear, etc. Rather than feeling anger and resentment toward the individuals who target us, it is possible to try and see past these perceived slights and see the “offender” as a person, just as we are, who feels pain, just as we do.
So, lesson 2: This person is afraid or in some kind of pain and I need to try my best to show them compassion. Even if that compassion only amounts to not responding with mean words, gossip, and attempts to hurt this person in kind, then that is enough. As my sponsor told me, do not fill your head and heart with darkness, fill it with light.
It would be really nice and well-rounded sounding if I had a third lesson but those are the two I came away with this time. Resentment is always waiting for us. We set up expectations every day, and not all of them are insane: I expect that my car will start, that my best friend will continue to be my best friend, that I will have my job tomorrow, that my prescriptions will be ready in an hour when they said 15 minutes, that if I studied really hard for this test I will get a good grade, that my tie-dye shirts won’t turn everything in the wash pink (okay, that was stupid, I see this now, it’s on me, my bad)… but sometimes your alternator shits out, your best friend steals your boyfriend (bad choice in friends, dude), your job gets raided by the cops, your professor is an a**hole, and you have pink jean shorts now so look on the bright side; you’re so stylish.
We have to take life as it comes. Not everything goes as planned and if I keep blaming the world and the people in it for everything that I have done, everything I fail to plan for or everything I fail to take action to correct, that is on me. Living a life where I never take responsibility for myself and my actions, for my past, my present, and for my future means I’m not active in my recovery and I’m not living in the solution. I can either fight the change and circumstances that come my way, or I can roll with them and look for the window God opens for me when a door is slammed in my face.
That window might lead to a fire exit, and all the while I didn’t know the building was going up in flames.
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