And the Resentments Just Keep on Coming

When I was doing my step work, I remember writing letter after letter after letter about how and when I was “wronged” and how I felt about it.  As with most people, that was probably the most cathartic work I’ve ever done (the jury is still out on the sexual abuse therapy).  Pouring all of that out onto a page and then talking about it with my sponsor was liberating.  I gained so much freedom during that time.  I was cleansed.

What I didn’t realize was that the work of dealing with resentments is an ongoing thing.  Step work is meant to help you heal and also to give you the tools that help you live in the world without the crutch of alcohol.  (I almost typed “like normal people” in that sentence until I realized that nothing could be further from the truth…everyone deals with this shit.)  I think that’s why people go through the steps many times in the program.  The work is never really finished.  Life goes on and we go on with it.

I’m thinking about all of this because I’m dealing with a whole heap of resentment that has spent the better part of the last year rolling around in my head and belly and making me sick AND I don’t know what to do about it.  Unlike my former resentments, this individual is still alive and on the fringe of my life.  I see her and speak with her from time to time and every damn time it feels like a knife in my gut.

I’ve prayed about this – a lot.  I’ve discussed it with the hubs and the boys and my daughter and I still can’t seem to let it go.  I’ve written emails pouring out my feelings only to delete them all before hitting send.  I thought just by writing it down I’d be able to release it into the universe and let it go.

Not so much.

Here’s why I’m struggling.  Old Sherry would have had no trouble calling a “meeting” and talking about it woman to woman, face to face.  I’d spill the venom all over her and then wait for my apology.  If it came, great, we could repair our relationship.  If not, good riddance to bad rubbish.  I didn’t care if it hurt the other person because I knew how healthy it was to clear the air and confront my issues head on.  If we couldn’t do this then we didn’t need to be friends anyway.

Yeah…I know.

I never stopped to think that, perhaps, the pain I was inflicting was exponentially greater than the pain I was feeling.  I never stopped to think if the carnage and collateral damage was really worth the price of my uncensored honesty.  I just knew that I was in pain and, being a balls to the wall bad ass, I had to confront it and drive it from my soul.

But now…hmmm…now I’m in recovery.  Now I’m learning that feelings are just feelings and they should be honored within my soul rather than banished (read…stuffed down).  Now I’m learning to weigh the cost of bringing this issue from May of last year into the light of this slushy, cold February.  What purpose would it serve?  She’s not even aware that the issue exists and she’s happy – why in the world would I ruin that?  Shouldn’t I be the bigger person and let it go?  Why do I feel like talking about this with her would be akin to punishment?  Do I want to punish her?

No…I don’t want to punish her.  I don’t even think I want an apology because apologies are hollow unless filled with the why.  What I want is to know why.  Why did you behave this way?  Why did you hurt me?  Was I being punished?

What I do know is that I’m sick to death of thinking about it.  Sick to death of it creeping it’s way into my head and making me cry.  Sick to death of dealing with an issue that, on the surface looks petty and unimportant but in my heart feels like a lead weight that is tethering me to the past and won’t let me go.

Being a grownup sucks sometimes.  When I was a little girl and my feelings were hurt, I would go to the offender and say, “You hurt my feelings.”  Then that person would say, “I’m sorry.”  I’d say, “Okay, you want to play?”  And just like that, we’d move on.

I would really like to move on.


14 thoughts on “And the Resentments Just Keep on Coming

  1. This makes me think of the quote
    “Life becomes easier when you learn to accept the apology you never got”

    I also really like the book Buddhist boot camp. He has some wise words.

    I also struggle with wanting to have my say. But recognize that it is not always helpful or positive and sometimes the answer is to just cry and let it go.

    Life can be complicated.



  2. Tough one my friend. Maybe you could try the little kid way. she possibly doesn’t know she hurt you. It could open a dialogue, especially if you don’t go on the attack.
    Women can be so mean to each other. Guys would just fight it out, and go have a beer.

  3. Ugh. I’m dealing with something very sinmilar to this right now, not exactly, but quite similar. I wrote a letter, a lengthy, well thought out, detailed, kind letter to explain my feelings and to look for answers that would [potentially make me feel better or at least get closure. BUT sharing the letter could ahve actually opened another can of worms that wouldn’t help anybody.
    I felt IU had to swallow the bitter pill in order to keep peace in other important areas of my life.
    I hated not sending the letter, but it was the right choice . . . I think.
    One can never know for sure, but whta I believe you’ve hit on accurately is it’s really all in your power. Not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but in your power by all means.
    Hey, that’s why we’re not all Buddah himself. This shit is hard. Really hard.

    1. I get it and…like you…I think I’ve made the right decision by keeping it to myself. But it’s still on my mind and not resolved so I’m guessing that this particular pill will end up being bitter for me as well.

      Thanks so much…nice to know its not just me.


  4. this kind of stuff always comes down to the big question “would i rather be right or happy?”
    Often I rail at these types of situations, knowing i am right, wanting to PROVE i am right….
    but i have learned over the years that i really just want to be happy. And so i keep my lip zipped, except for a talk with my sponsor, and i allow myself to stay happy.
    Happy always trumps right!

  5. I have had the same issues. Have you ever heard of a God Box? Write out your resentments & put away in a box, then pray for the person for 2 weeks. Does seem to help me. Remember that the only one suffering is you.

  6. Here’s my step 9 bollocks up (that’s old English btw… ;-))

    There was a guy I had a huge resentment about – now years on it was stupid. It was something he got a huge amount of praise for at work. I didn’t think he deserved it. Simply that.

    About a year into recovery I hear he is unwell (had a hear attack). He has returned to work but is off on early retirement. He vaguely knew me, but we’d not talked or worked together much. I asked to meet him for a coffee. I explained how I’d had the resentment, why etc. how I was in recovery and now I was ok with it all. He shrugged – “Don’t worry about it”. I walked away high as the heavens. With every step it got more and more painful – he was totally unaware and I didn’t need to tell him and… oh shit!!! “…except when to do so would injure them…” I felt such at twit.

    My advice to you – you need to deal with it in you. It isn’t worth surfacing. Talk to people about it – pray for her? All that good advice… look long and hard at the serenity prayer around this issue. You do have a choice how you feel about it – you need to stop all that pain when it starts by trying to step back and really accept the past as it all was and how now is …

    All very very hard I know… I wish you well with it

  7. The doing more harm part comes to mind too. I rarely tell someone that I have a resentment towards them. It doesn’t do much for them, and rarely helps me out. It’s about dealing with that punch in the gut that we often feel when around (or not even near!) that other person. It’s often an unmet expectation or some fear deep down. It is also often something I see in them that I dislike about myself. It’s not always easy to see, and I have had YEARS of trying to figure out why a certain person bothers me.

    There is a great piece in Anthony De Mello’s The Way to Love that talks about this – how someone else can be with that person you resent and not have them bother them at all. How is this? It’s an interesting read.

    I found this while trying to find that quote / passage. Not sure if it’s your thing, but worth a shot:

    The end result is that the disturbance is in me and that’s where the deal is. Regardless if we feel justified by our anger, it’s something that in the end rots us, not them.


    1. I loved the exercise…it hit on some real feelings within me about this. At the end of the day forgiveness is all that is necessary. I need to chart my way to that forgiveness in order to get past this and it doesn’t involve my friend at all…just me.

      Thanks Paul.

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