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Resentments in Sobriety

Resentments in Sobriety

Written by: stodzy | Date: August 3, 2016

“It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness…For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again.”

Alcoholics Anonymous pg 66.


Before getting sober, I pretty much believed that life and resentments went hand in hand and that was just the way it was. I firmly used my bitterness as a measure for trust (or lack thereof), and how much I could manipulate someone based on how they’d hurt me in the past. Although it is human nature to hold ill will towards others for wrongs done upon us, we alcoholics find that resentments in sobriety can be a threat to our lives.

An old timer once told me, “being in AA doesn’t GET you sober. Detox GETS you sober. The 12 steps help you STAY sober by clearing your past so God can KEEP you sober.” Thankfully, (or else I would absolutely be drunk and miserable somewhere) Alcoholics Anonymous gives us sponsors who teach us how to live like this. The “clearing of our past” signifies the fourth and fifth step where we make an “inventory of our ourselves” and disclose this information to our sponsor.

As alcoholics we come into the rooms gripped in fear, anger, loneliness, and self-pity. We have been robbed, lied to, cheated, abandoned, and many of us are guilty of some of these as well. This is where resentments come to play. Anytime we have been hurt or let down in the past, we assume the other person was the one to blame. Upon working a fourth step with a sponsor, we begin to see how our own emotions have been the culprit of any and all ill will that we carry.

The tricky thing about resentments in sobriety is that they don’t just float away after your fifth step, never to return again. This would be true if we never had to deal with human interaction of any kind, but who wants to live a life that lonely?

So What Exactly Are Resentments?

Resentments are defined as a bitter indignation or ill will at having been treated unfairly.

Resentments are often driven by our expectations on life. Think back for a moment, if you will, to a memory in your life where something didn’t go your way. Can you remember if you tried to control and change the situation to align with your will? How was the final result? Did you end up hurt? Did you hurt someone else in this process? Don’t be ashamed, this is all just human nature! We strive for the things we want, and we are hurt if it doesn’t go our way.

But we alcoholics don’t have to let these memories rule us anymore. We are gifted with the opportunity to release and forgive the dark spots of our past, which is a gift not many people receive.

After you have finished a fourth and fifth step with a sponsor, and find you are still having resentments, here are some tips to help you change your perspective.

two women arguing

  • What is the Reason You are Upset?

In the heat of the moment, this can seem like a pretty dumb question to ask yourself. “Well of course I’m upset! They said this” or “I didn’t get ______” or “they made me feel _____”. We get it, we know, and we’ve been there. However, if you can, take a few deep breaths and ask yourself, what are my motives? Did I allow my expectations to get the best of me?

  • Stop and Ask for Guidance

One of the greatest blessings of AA is that we are surrounded by people who GET US. Whenever something is bothering you, call your sponsor, you probably won’t hear what you WANT to hear, but you will definitely hear what you NEED.

  • Pray for the Other Person or Thing

The best remedy for resentments is forgiveness. And although we may loathe the idea of sending this person or thing any of our God’s beautiful grace (I am obviously still selfish sometimes), it is good for us, and it is good for them. We pray to God for HIS will, because obviously ours just makes us resentful.

  • Help Another Alcoholic

Practical experience shows that nothing will so much ensure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.” Not sponsoring yet? Doesn’t matter, go to a meeting and talk to a newcomer or an old timer. Ask them about their day, and actually listen. We are masters of getting inside our own heads, spending some time in someone else’s not only helps them, but it helps US. Who knows, you may even hear something that will shed some light on your dilemma.

Resentments in sobriety can be like quicksand. The more we struggle and fight to escape, the deeper and faster we sink. No matter how much we try to claw and grasp at the solid ground around us, we will continue to be slowly enveloped. Once we are willing to pause and invite God back in, we will find that there had been a sturdy branch above our heads the whole time. All we have to do is take a breath and be willing to look for it.

Getting Help For Addiction

If you are a woman struggling with addiction, Wayside House can help you overcome your problem so you can heal and recover. Located in a safe, serene and beautiful environment, Wayside House offers treatments and therapies often found only in more expensive rehabs. Call our program today to learn more about what we offer at 800-655-0817.