In 2003, after 3 years of sobriety, I discovered that I had a serious case of cancer. It wasn’t until 2005 that I was cancer free. Along the way, I had multiple surgeries, various Chemotherapy sessions and a treatment which resulted in me contracting a form of tuberculosis.
Although I remained sober over that time I was seething with resentment towards God. Every day while I was sick I repeatedly heard a voice shouting in my head saying things like, “How could you do this to me? After all the work I’ve done to become sober this is my reward? I’ve worked for over 30 years and as I approach retirement I won’t even be able to enjoy it! You’re supposed to take care of me and my family, not take my life away.”
Although I had healed by 2005, a year later I was still walking around with those resentments toward God. In the spring of 2006 my wife told me about a shaman from South America who healed people from both physical illness and emotional trauma. She didn’t even charge people money and just asked for a voluntary donation.
I knew that my resentments were destroying my serenity so my wife and I decided to visit this healer. When I met the shaman she asked how could she help me? I told her that I needed help in forgiving God for what he had done to me.
She looked at me and said, “I see that you are a religious man. Do you believe in God?” I replied yes. She then asked, “Do you believe that everything that happens in the universe comes from God?” I once again replied yes.
She then said to me, “My friend you are asking for the wrong thing. You said you wanted me to help you to forgive God for what he had done to you. You need to ask God to forgive you for not having faith and trust in Him.”
When she said those words I felt like an electric current had passed through my body. I realized that I had been walking around for years totally off point. I had turned my lack of faith in a Higher Power into a resentment of major proportions. That moment with the shaman was the beginning of my truly understanding the third step which says, “made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”
Personal Reflection: Have I truly surrendered my life and will to a Higher Power?
For as long as we could remember, we were uncomfortable in this life. Though we might not have realized it at that time, we were racked with fear, resentments and feelings of low self esteem. This often led to undiagnosed bouts of depression. Then one day, something wondrous occurred. We discovered our drug of choice. Perhaps a group of our friends were passing around a bottle or someone offered us a hit off a joint. Whatever the event was, we partook and experienced an immediate and psychic change. It was as if we had been granted a pair of wings and as we soared skyward, all of our problems were left back on the earth. We couldn’t wait to get more of that magic elixir. Whenever we had the opportunity we indulged in our drug of choice. It didn’t matter to us that we seemed to use more than others or that we used more often. Over time something changed in us. We lost interest in the flight of life. All we cared about was getting high. As others progressed with their lives, we stayed stuck. Alcohol, drugs or food had ended up clipping our wings.
Personal Reflection: Where should I fly to today?
What we would do without the pause button? How would we be able to get a snack before we continued our favorite show. Or, for that matter not have to delay going to the bathroom because the murderer in the mystery we were watching was about to be revealed. So, at this point in our lives, we are quite familiar with the pause button on our television remote.
There is another type of pause which many of us neglect or don’t even know about. That is our internal pause button. Here’s how you use use it. The next time you are about to lose your temper press your internal pause button. If you are about to pass on a juicy piece of gossip; hit pause. Are you about to make a rash decision without thinking it through? Hit that button. Do you see yourself about to beat yourself up for a decision you made? Just hit it. You need to hit pause when you see yourself beginning to obsess about a future decision. Resentments can be put on pause as well. Perhaps most importantly if you see yourself wanting to drink or drug or eat hit that pause button. In the majority of cases we have nothing to lose by pausing, and often quite a lot to gain.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to hit my pause button more often?
We may not have been successful in many areas of our our lives, but as far as resentments were concerned, we were master craftsmen. We could create a resentment at the drop of a hat. The problem was that while we were active in our addiction; we didn’t even realize that we were in this negative state. In fact, we often puffed ourselves up in self righteousness; or fell into the despair of victimization.
When we finally entered the program we came to see how destructive our resentments had been. We had broken friendships and ruined relationships to show for them. As our minds began to clear it pained us greatly how much energy we had expended on often imagined wrongs against us. We really wanted to drop the resentments, but just didn’t know how. Then perhaps someone from a meeting suggested to us that resentments could only be sustained when we fed them. With diligence, as we felt a resentment building we could choose to not feed it. At first, we were only occasionally successful in this endeavor. However, over time, like any muscle, our ability to resist resentments got stronger thru practice. We even began to starve some of our long standing resentments as well.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to stop feeding my resentments?
For a long time we walked around with a lot of grievances. Wherever we went, we thought that people had it in for us. At the supermarket, the cashier took somebody on the line before us. At the restaurant the waitress messed up our order on purpose because of something we had said. Even as kids we never got a fair shake. We didn’t make the team because the coach didn’t like us.
When we finally entered the program we began to realize that maybe we weren’t such victims after all. The reality was that most people were just doing the best they could. When something happened to us, in most cases we weren’t being targeted. People sometimes just made mistakes. No intent was attributable. That cashier just didn’t realize that we were on line. The waitress made a mistake with our order because the diner was so noisy. Coach didn’t take us because we were 90 pounds soaking wet. We learned that our sense of grandiosity had caused many of our grievances. And, for those times that we had a legitimate grievance, we learned to look at our part.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to do a reality check on a recent grievance?
We often say in the program that resentments are the number one offender. Yet, none of us gets up in the morning wanting to be in resentment. Yet by the end of the day we often find ourselves full of the very resentments we claimed we wanted to avoid. How did we get there? Often, the root cause are the expectations we have of other people. As addicts, we often said, “if only he or she would do it the way I want it done, then everything would be fine”. The reality is that rarely happened. When we are able to lower our expectations of others, there is less room for judgement and resentment to come in.
Personal Reflection: How have my expectations of others today caused me to be resentful?