Why People Drink over Resentments

Why People Drink over Resentments

When someone hurts your feelings, do you have trouble forgiving them and letting it go? I do. It doesn't even have to be a big hurt like "you have gained a lot of weight haven't you?" or "your daughter is obnoxious." It can be a small hurt like "the cole slaw you brought to the pot luck wasn't so good." What if no one commented on your new hairstyle? Might you harbor a small resentment over that?

What do you do with a resentment? Do you go over and over and over the conversation in your head? Do you imagine a variety of smart comebacks and other ways to put someone in their place? Do you wake up in the night and start to make lists of things you should have said? or dream up ways to take revenge?


Resentment seems to grow the longer we clutch on to it because it ignites our deepest fears from childhood. When our little child first felt threatened and experienced loss...those are the fears, repeated throughout our lives, that have become so huge that we are actually terrified. So, when another person criticizes or judges us, those big scary fears don't hesitate to rear their big scary heads. We ALL have those fears and, the good news is, we can learn to see them for the fiction that they are. That's what a recovery "program" is for. And that's why I always recommend getting sober with others rather than all by yourself. You may be able to put the plug in the jug but...there's much much more to do, We have to learn how to "live sober."

There is a seductive pull to wanting to be right. For me it's almost like I'd rather be mad than be happy. I want to feel superior. And often I believe I AM superior (ha ha full disclosure). I could go so far as to say I feel better cuz I'm right. But that's not true, because I am anxiously obsessing and it's bringing me down. I might even have a little drinkie over it....just to take the edge off. And for me, a true blue alcoholic, that could be deadly. Yes deadly. Once I start drinking I never really know when I'm going to have the strength to stop. One day? One week? One year? Ten years? Never?

So how do we get rid of resentments and get back to a somewhat peaceful life? It seems like a tall order when, clearly, I am right!  They are wrong and mean and nasty. Even if they weren't outwardly cruel, they chose not to eat my potluck offering and it's probably because they were judging my culinary skills....and that hurts my feelings.

What's the solution? The way to get rid of resentments is to FORGIVE. Just forgive. Let go...like a bag of rocks. Put it down and don't pick it up again. The key to forgiving is to understand that it does not mean you approve of someone's behavior. It just means you are going to release your concern over it. This action is not about justice. Justice has little to do with it when we forgive. It is self care. I am using my fortitude to move on. I am not saying the other person was right. In fact, the act of forgiveness has nothing whatsoever to do with the other person. When I let go of hurt I am saying to myself I am the driver of my own car. I am moving on to other more important issues in my life. What ever happened in the past will just have to stay in the past. I am putting it in its own compartment and if something shifts and there is a healing, well then that's great and it will be welcome... but in the meantine I will be moving on with my life.

Forgiveness is for you not for them. It often benefits other people....but mostly it benefits you. It brings an incredible sense of relief. It is empowering. When I forgive I am no longer a victim (weakness) I am now a strong person who can weather a storm and walk in the sunshine once more.

Get help. When I need help mustering up the courage to forgive and let go, I will often pick up the phone and call my AA sponsor or one of my "Panel of Experts."  Yes, that's what I call my group of trusted, wise sober friends....my mentors. Among those experts is my sober adult daughter and my sober domestic partner/husband. And there are many others who have a variety of experience in relationships, work and health challenges and many other situations that can cause serious resentments. I have made these friends gradually over the many years I have been in recovery. The main reason these folks are so precious to me is that we share a common bond of addiction and they understand how the addict is wired. It's unique...and they get it. Also they happen to be some of the most delightful, smart, resourceful, articulate and playful people on the planet.

Get BIG HELP. By that I mean God, Higher Power, The Universe or whatever you call the force that makes the sun come up in the morning. This is a uniquely personal thing that I don't even feel qualified to write about. It's even difficult to write about my own concepts.....and I certainly would not presume to express anyone else's. Suffice it to say....that's n asking for "big help" and the most amazing things can happen in that process.

Don't let someone live rent free in your head. It's a total waste of space and energy for anyone, but especially for addicts. If we drink or use over a resentment, we could die. Is that morbid? Well, that's the point. If it weren't a matter of life and death I don't think I would be tying to carry the message the way I do.

As my ex-husband used to say...."Do you wanna be right? or do you wanna be happy?" He's a good and a wise man. Not an alcoholic but I am grateful for his wisdom. And I am grateful for my recovery meetings that have taught me all of the lessons that I just wrote down for you to read.

Much love to you,


Grateful Alcoholic


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