The Holiday Season often requires us to be around family members and loved ones where feelings of joy, nostalgia, and love can mix with regret and resentments. This is not to be negative, but to point to the reality that family strikes at the core of all our emotions - both positive and negative. While there is little to be said about what to do with the joyful feelings other than to revel in them, there is a lot to be said about what to do with resentment.
Resentment is said to be poisonous to sobriety because it shakes our foundation of addiction recovery by letting negative sentiments infiltrate and brood. These feelings can be quite powerful and a former gut reaction would be to drink or use drugs to squash these high charged feelings. In recovery, we learn to let these feelings go by sharing them with others, replacing them with more positive realities and turning them over to a power greater than ourselves.
While these actions are easy on some accounts, resentments seem to stick and metastasize in the body and mind and cloud judgment and clarity. The anti-venom of resentments is forgiveness and acceptance. By forgiving, the resentment vanishes and can no longer control the mind, mood and feelings. In the 4th step of 12 step programs, we take a personal and moral inventory which allows us to express our resentments and see our part - all of which brings us closer to letting the resentments go.
We find that we cannot control what other people have done or will do, but we can indeed control our reactions to them. We realize that some people are spiritually sick, in active addiction themselves or treat us poorly because they feel that way about themselves. We cannot control the reasons or realities of other’s actions. We can however be non-reactive or turn over the situation so that it does not burden us or feed us with resentment.
During this Holiday Season bask in the joy and let go of resentments by knowing that “acceptance is the answer” to all of our problems. Accepting that we cannot control how other people are and how they act, but that we can control how we react by letting go of resentments and therefore respecting ourselves and our recovery from drugs and alcohol.