The 4th step of 12 in AA is about taking a thorough moral inventory of yourself, and that begins by writing down your resentments. Resentments toward your family, the world, yourself, your situation, your car, your dog, your job, your coffee cup, your high school coach, etc. Anything at all that you may be a wee bit angry about, you should detail because if you aren’t careful, these are the very things that will drive you back to drinking.
Inventory? No problem. I can point to things I’ve done that I’m not proud of, ample mistakes I’ve made, bad decisions that resulted in hurting myself and others. Easy-peasy.
Resentments? That’s another story. I’ve been actively indignant and judge-y toward others who lament their past and believe they were wronged by this person or unloved by that person (“Poor soul, so angry, such a martyr, jeeeeeez…”). I was sad for them that they carried these things around like turds in their pockets and let them stink up their present lives.
In my mind, I’d taken the high road and refused to give in to the victim mentality. I saw it as a sign of weakness. When I sat down to write, I thought wow, this is going to be a no-brainer because I probably don’t have any resentments. I’ll end up with a blank page. Maybe a few scribbles.
Anger and filthy language and spewing of victim-y shit came flooding out like an overflowing public toilet. I’m talking about really, really disgusting thoughts. Thoughts I thought I was above. Thoughts I never really knew existed, and were certainly not on the surface level. And worst of all, these toxic feelings had been silently controlling my behavior and decision-making for years and years.
SCARY. But enlightening.
Another part of step 4 is to go further and admit your role in these resentments. What part did I play? What behavior did I tolerate or worse, encourage? How was I active and conscious in these resentments I was able to conjure up from the bowels of my past? Sometimes the answer was – NOTHING. I didn’t do a damn thing. But the really frightening part was facing the fact that I had been a willing and active part of some of these bad situations. I encouraged drama. I tolerated shit that was so clearly unhealthy. I made bad choices. I turned a blind eye to some of those choices when it became obvious they were hurting me. I played it safe. I played it dangerous. And most of all, I neglected myself. I put the health or wants or fucked up behavior of others over my own basic needs and that is the saddest part. And now, the happiest part, because I see clearly what I did, and I swear to God, I will not do that again.
Obviously, this isn’t the place to talk about some of these resentments because the people involved are, for the most part, still walking around on this planet. And some I’m still connected to – family, etc. However, one of the upcoming steps in the program is to make amends to those you’ve hurt and been hurt by, only apologizing for my role in what happened. These will be opportunities to heal.
But for now, I keep my list handy to remind myself of what I will not do in the future, especially to myself.