An LDS man ponders resentment as he overcomes his pornography addiction.
I am a Latter-day Saint and a gratefully recovering sex and pornography addict. As I was blessed with longer and better sobriety, I began to experience the full force of the painful emotions and fears that I was trying to cover with my addiction. The rawness of my spiritual and emotional disconnection was exposed. I was vulnerable. I was hurting. I was in pain. This was hard. Still, I kept working my program.
I began learning about the diseased attitude of resentment. I had heard somewhere that resentment was the number one killer of alcoholics. I was beginning to see how resentment was hurting me, my career and more importantly my relationships. I was full of resentments. My sponsor told me that I was just as powerless over resentment as I was over lust.
At first this confused me. It was difficult to break through the denial. I could not see the damage I was experiencing and inflicting when I expected someone or something else to be the cause or cure of my distress. I realized that resentment was a big part of my addiction. I began to recognize the neuro-chemical “hit” I got off of being resentful or “full of resentment.” The emotional charge that resentment brought to my brain kept me from seeing my destructive behaviors and diseased attitudes.
In the beginning, it was hard to wrap my mind around the idea of being addicted to resentment. But I knew that I was powerless over resentment. As I understood more, I began to see that as long as I held on to a resentment, I was not accepting a given situation or my part in its cause or possible cure. I was not turning to my Heavenly Father. I refused trust Him. I had no serenity. I had not surrendered or accepted the things I could not change. I was in a place of emotional dependency. I learned to define emotional dependency as making someone or something else the cause or the cure of my distress. “It’s their fault that I feel the way I do.”
Eventually, it began to click. As long as I believed that I had no part in the cause, and had no part in the cure, I thought I was totally off the hook. I was free–at least that’s what my addicted brain was telling me. In a very real way, I was using resentment to avoid facing my spiritual disconnection. I’d tell myself things like “It’s not my fault and I don’t have a part in this,” or “If I could have done something, I would have,” or “If that happened to you, you would be upset too!” or simply “She was wrong!”
My resentment prevented me of seeing my feelings of helplessness and emotional dependency. My resentment prevented me from seeing the steps that I could take that would create unity. When I was full of resentment, I was angry, hurt and helpless. Acting out was the quickest way I knew of to change how I was feeling. It was also the most destructive. It wasn’t until later, however, that I came to understand this.
The spotlight was now on the next step in my recovery: freeing myself of resentment. I had to accept that I was powerless over resentment. Back to Step One [of the 12 Steps].
While praying one morning, I decided to work Steps One, Two and Three on resentment. I acknowledged my inability to stop myself from resenting so many things. I surrendered my resentment list. Unfortunately, my wife–what she had done, not done, should have done, or shouldn’t have done–seemed to include most of what I resented. I prayed that God’s will be done and for the courage to follow his will.
My day progressed with little thought about resentment. I went to work. I stayed sober. I came home. Things were good. That night I was lying in bed reading the White Book [of Sexaholics Anonymous] when my wife asked me what I was reading. I was at the very bottom of page 47. I started to read aloud, turned the page and continued reading. I read: Based on a real or imagined injury, we create and hold on to a wrong toward another; we choose to distort the truth. Rebellion and hence resentment are born.
I was struck–and I mean struck–with the realization that my wife had never tried to injure me. She had never wanted to hurt me. Tears welled up in my eyes as I recognized for the first time the ugly fantasies and the outright lies that I had told myself. Although she had always stood by me and loved me, resentment was keeping me from seeing that. She had never wanted to injure me. Quite the opposite, she was the one who had been hurt by me. In that moment, I saw the truth! I was hurting her with my resentment even though I had never–not for an instant–wanted to hurt her.
I heard once that forgiveness can only occur when you give up your right to resent. In the moment of that realization, I gave up my right to resent my wife. I offered to her an emotional and tender apology for the resentments that I had held against her. I told her that I was wrong to believe that she had ever tried to hurt me or that she had ever wanted to hurt me. It was a natural, beautiful, intimate moment as we acknowledged our gratitude for the healing that was taking place in my life and our relationship. That healing continues.
My morning prayer was answered that night because of a willingness to take the actions of recovery, a simple question asked by my wife, and my Heavenly Father’s doing something for me that I simply could not do for myself. I was blessed to see that my resentment was not about her, it was all about me–and my addiction, dependency, and a false sense of being injured. As it says in the White Book, “I am the key.”
Today, as I live and stay sober one day at a time, I see resentment as a diseased spiritual attitude that is part of my addiction. I see resentment as something that can be surrendered. Through the grace of my Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, resentment can be healed and I can find peace.
Recovery is a beautiful thing!
Image courtesy of talksrealfast