Posted by Joy on Aug 5, 2014 in Share Your Story
Replies to this post
Daniel H. on Mar 5, 2017
How do I let go of that until he's ready to come forth and take responsibility for his actions?
As I'm sure you know life gets busy.
So this is a belated response to your question. This is just my opinion derived from the experience, strength, and hope, from the fellowship and Higher Power.
I hear that you have been working hard to keep your relationship alive for yourself and your children. And that you see your husband has been making progress over the years.
For myself, in recovery, one of the things that remains one of the most challenging, and yet is also the most fundamental is my powerlessness over others. It's disconcerting when someone slams the door of open-mindedness and refuses to open it or discuss it at all. That's when I'm faced with the reality that I'm not in charge of anyone's life. To attempt to batter that door down would make me the transgressor of that person's right to make up their own mind.
This, of course, is very challenging, especially with a life partner.
However, the fact is here is where I am face to face with myself.
Do I accept the situation as it is? Or do I complain about it, feel sorry for myself, nurse my resentments until they start to choke out the joy and gratitude of my own life.
Accepting does not mean that I have to like the situation.
If the time comes when the other person is in a receptive frame of mind, then I can honestly tell them how I feel. Asking first if they are willing to hear me, can save me feeling hurt or rejected. For some people, that time may never come. They may never be willing to talk. However, in a loving relationship, there has to be some give and take, just like breathing, for it to remain alive. Without the willingness to hear the other person out and acknowledge what they are saying with respect, quickly renders a relationship lifeless.
I know this from experience because I was the person who refused to listen, who disregarded any complaints. Then, in my blindness wondered what went wrong when the person no longer wished to remain in the non-relationship.
This is the kind of home I grew up in. The way I saw my father treat my mother, who thankfully came into recovery and refused to put up with the abuse that she had endured for years
But all of that did not excuse my continuing that behavior in my own life.
Thinking that when reaching so-called adulthood, after having lived under the tyrannical domination of both parents since childhood, that now was my time, my turn to go out and do some dominating myself! With equally painful results.
Ultimately, I need to see, however reluctantly, that the only person that I can change is myself. Even that not on my own but through fellowship, and a vital relationship with the Higher Power of my own understanding.
As the "Original Program" states:
"Resentment is the number one offender."
Recently I had discovered a smoldering resentment.
There is a person who has a cult-like following in one of the Twelve-Step programs. He's verbally abusive to others and acts in ways that openly show he feels he's above the very principles required of everyone else, sometimes shaming those who dare to call him on it.
His thoughtless, hurtful behavior, so contrary to the core principle of respect, the very heart of all 12 step programs, made me feel fully justified in resenting him.
But I could see it was hurting me.
"Resentment is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die"
A wise saying that was happening to me.
There is an interesting story called "Freedom from Bondage" in the AA Big Book. In it, a woman shares about how she had a lingering resentment against her mother and how she read an article that stated that the way to freedom from it was to pray for the other person, that they get everything one wished for oneself.
So I looked at this idea, determined to use it, and I found it to be an excellent mirror to look at myself, an aid to self-inventory.
I asked: "What do I want for myself?"
Was it tons of money, huge influence over others, lots of pleasurable relationships?
No, he already had those things in far more abundance than I did.
Then it came to me, what to pray for"
May he be mindful before saying something hurtful, and restrain himself, as I wish to.
May he realize the pain caused by making a person the object of ridicule to a crowd of people, as I have done myself in the past.
May he become willing to make amends to those he has harmed, not just by apologizing, but by "living amends" no longer behaving that way, as I wish for myself.
And may he see that the only way this is possible is by humbly/honestly asking his Higher Power to lift these behaviors from him, as I wish for myself.
This is lifting the resentment from me to great relief. When any more resentment crops up I recall what I wish for myself and for him. Shortly it too is lifted.
The woman concludes her story:
It worked for me then, and it has worked for me many times since, and it will work for me every time I am willing to work it. Sometimes I have to ask first for the willingness, but it too always comes. And because it works for me, it will work for all of us. As another great man says, “The only real freedom a human being can ever know is doing what they ought to do because they want to do it."
This great experience that released me from the bondage of hatred and replaced it with love is really just another affirmation of the truth I know: I get everything I need in [Her 12 Step Program of choice] and everything I need I get. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.
May this have been helpful Joy.
Happychick on Dec 22, 2017
Thank you Daniel for sharing it was so helpful to me as i struggle to let go of resentments towards people. it really hit home for me.
Jay on Jul 8, 2021
Thank you, Daniel. I like your perspective on resentments. It's so easy for me to see what's wrong with others! Yes, if I can flip things around, and think "what do I want them to be?", I can see that I have work to do in the same areas. Then, I can leave the resentment behind and get busy on something I can control!
Content re-published with the permission of Co-Dependents Anonymous, Incorporated (www.coda.org).