I’ve had my first real insight into resentment today and I’m beginning to understand what it really means.
I feel like I’ve carried around a huge amount of anger with me my whole life, but I’ve also felt that anger is ‘bad’, so I’ve learnt to suppress it and cope with the pain through my addictions. The irony being that my most angry and painful moments were usually when I was drinking.
Something my sponsor said the other day suddenly clicked today. I started to become aware of other things that I was angry at or about for no real reason. I could start to see the difference between anger and resentment. If I accept that anger is a secondary emotion, then I can be angry at something that has hurt me directly and angry at something that hurts me indirectly.
The difference being that one is an action directed at me, either intentionally or otherwise. The other is simply my anger based on my belief system and my own expectation.
This revelation explains a huge amount of my depression, co-dependency and addiction.
If someone hurts me and I feel upset, one reaction to that might be anger. This may be warranted, particularly as a defence mechanism to actually danger. I can understand where and why that emotional response takes place. It’s part of the evolutionary process.
What I haven’t been able to understand is the inwardly facing anger, where no one has actually done anything directly ‘wrong’ to me. An example may be people who don’t turn off light switches and waste energy. They haven’t done anything specifically wrong to me, but my belief system says that waste of any kind puts all life on earth in danger. I have a resentment. I resent wastefulness and people that appear deliberately wasteful.
Resentment is my anger. Because I don’t allow myself to feel anger, I suppress it, which means I choose to not feel one or more of my underlying emotions. When I choose to stop feeling one emotion, I inadvertently choose to stop feeling all my emotions. For me, emotions are all or nothing. There is no grey area. This is why I suffer from depression. When I stop acknowledging, feeling and expressing my (resentment) anger, I start suffering from depression until one day my stress tank gets over loaded and I pop into a depressed state and can no longer function.
My medication actually helps me feel, which means there are periods of extreme discomfort, because all my anger is coming to the surface and I don’t know how to process it, so I just have to sit with it. As anger is a secondary emotion, I have to allow myself to be curious, to explore the underlying emotion and the reason that I am experiencing it. It’s like bringing an image into focus, but not having the skills or experience to know how to adjust the lens.
Having sat with these uncomfortable feelings for the last 3 months (specifically since being on medication), I’m starting to feel like a burden is slowly being lifted.
I’ve got more energy and enthusiasm, but I’m also aware that there is still a lot of negative emotions (resentments) that need to be processed.
I’m really grateful today, because I’m now starting to understand what Step 4 is all about.
Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
I’ve really struggled to get my head around what this moral inventory was for, but now it’s starting to make sense. I’m going to write down absolutely everything that I can think of that pisses me off.
I also see why Steps 1,2 and 3 are so important to take first. I’m not going to make a list of all the people or things that I hate. I’m going to make a list of all the reason that I don’t allow myself to love freely and without reservation. This means looking into who I am and what has happened to me and why I believe what I believe, so that I can choose to let go of all the character defect that keep me resentful.
I’m hugely grateful to my 12 Step fellowships and all my recovery buddies who provide such support and wisdom on a daily/weekly basis.
I’m also really grateful for the support of my buddies outside recovery, who have been so kind and understanding since learning about my illness.
During the darker moments, I find it difficult to do most things, let along write a daily journal. As the medication begins to work and I begin to share my story and experience with others, I begin to realise two things.
- That I really don’t have to suffer alone and
- That many people (approximately 25%) are currently suffering from anxiety and depression.
Realising that I am not alone and that other people have suffered, are suffering and will suffer from this illness gives me the courage and determination to continue to publish my story.
Writing this stuff really helps me, but if my experience can benefit others in any way whatsoever, then that’s a Step 12 right there.
Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others still suffering and to practice these principles in our lives.
I’ve certainly had my doubts over the last 6-8 months, but as I keep being reminded…
Keep coming back, it works if you work it, so work it you’re worth it.
A message to anyone reading this: If you too suffer from anxiety and/or depression, you don’t have to suffer alone and you can heal and get better, if you’re willing to make small personal changes over a long period of time. Get yourself to a local 12 Step meeting and just listen for the similarities, not the differences.
Progress, not perfection.
It’s good to be here. Thanks xXx