“I’ve been through the wringer but now that you’re sober that just goes away, huh?” I think I can be pretty confident in saying that most of us have thought some form of this phrase. It’s kind of hard not to.
Or wait, here’s another one: “Must be nice that you can go away to rehab and work on yourself alone while I’m stuck here with our child/bills/job/keeping our lives from ruin.” I can keep going but I’m sure you get the point.
Resentment is one of those things that kind of comes with the territory. Sometimes it comes out as misdirected anger, sometimes it shows itself as isolation or sadness, and sometimes it actually comes out pretty mean and as a bully (that’s embarrassing).
But the thing is, if you don’t recognize it for what it is, it’s just going to keep showing up in hurtful situations and you’re going to be confused on how to go about fixing it since you don’t know what’s causing it. Was I actually mad that he wanted to do something fun on his own or was I actually mad because it seems like all he’s doing lately are things for himself and “neglecting” us?
See what I mean?
“Oh well that’s not me,” you could probably say. “I deserve to feel this way. He made me like this. I wouldn’t be like this if it wasn’t for him.”
And believe me, I don’t fault you for any of it. I get it. I’ve been there. I’m not here to tell you that you shouldn’t feel “bad” emotions or that you should feel guilty. We just have to focus on how to figure them out and move on from them.
I used to be that person: Oh look at him, wasn’t doing anything he was supposed to and was just off doing who knows what with who knows who all hours of the day and night. Must be nice skipping out on responsibility! Must be nice leaving to focus on yourself! Where’s my time? Why can’t I catch a break?
The thing about it though, is that, well, where you are is where you are right now. Even if you decided to leave you would still have these feelings; they would just probably get buried and come up years from now in a completely different situation.
My point is: you are at the point where you are, so what shall we do to improve that?
The fact that you are in this situation, that you are in need of self-attention and healing, and that you actually have to do the self-reflection and focus and work on yourself is entirely your responsibility. We don’t have any more time for resentment here, at least, if you want your life to improve at all. If you aren’t interested in that, well then, go ahead and sit in the corner and keep explaining why it must be nice for him to do what he’s doing. I won’t stop you.
If you are like me though, and want to do something about it, then it all begins with you.
For ease, let me explain how to start in 2 easy steps:
Step 1 is figuring out the root of the issue.
What is this stemming from? What is the core feeling that uses resentment as a mask? You might have to sit with yourself for awhile and maybe jot down some journaling notes to get there, but trust me, you'll find out.
Step 2 is finding a way to work through it and heal the actual feeling or emotion.
Let yourself cry, give yourself a hug, go for a run, talk out loud about how you're feeling, anything that lets you actually get into the feeling of what you feel and let you experience it for everything that it is without pushing it down or hiding it until it comes out in a different way.
For me, I've found that there are never too many ways or any wrong ways to go about it.
I’ve read books, gone to a therapist, read more books, listened to podcasts, worked the Steps, found a different therapist, practiced self care, found yet another therapist, and so on. There is no clear-cut, fool-proof method. The only right method is the one that works for you.
I also invite you to try a different perspective, too: the one of your addict’s. And I promise you, it’s not as worthy of envy as you think.
Take a stay in rehab for instance. While you are with your support systems, they are completely alone in a new place, uncomfortable with life in all aspects, sometimes without even the ability or allowance to make a phone call on a shared payphone.
While you have your routine, your job, and the opportunity to make new decisions and freely live your life, they are given a schedule, classes, meetings, and activities while simultaneously being out of their element and unable to leave (unless they decide to continue their current path that got them there in the first place).
Of course, it’s all essentially for their health and overall benefit, but it’s not all peachy and fun either. Even the “rehab resorts” should have rules and regulations and an aim to help them in continuing their sobriety.
Not only that, but it’s also for your benefit, if you want to think of it in that way. You want a healthy, happy, stable, sober person, right? Not one you have to stress about, look for, or use your detective skills on? And obviously I’m assuming you also want a person you can have in your life in a positive way.
Though it’s hard, and not really something you can get through quickly, it’s needed. In order to have a happy, successful relationship (of any kind), you both need to get healthy. And for you, that includes getting real and getting help on why you feel the way you do, so that you can have better, more positive and uplifting interactions in the future. You can’t have a good future if you are still holding onto the past.
So yes, resentments are not fun, and it’s easy to feel entitled to them. But I really hope that you are able to see the other side of them, and to see them for what they really are. If not, you’re just making sure you never get the life you really want.
And no one wants that, right?