By Ashley Madden, Lakeview Health Aftercare Coordinator
Many of us hear old timers in the twelve-step rooms almost dutifully chant, “Resentment is the number one offender,” but what does that mean? We understand that resentment remains thought of as the number one reason people recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction relapse, but what is resentment and where does it come from? Defined, resentment is described as: “bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.” The problem with this definition is that being treated unfairly evidences a subjective experience.
Enter in the most dangerous two words a person recovering from alcoholism or addiction can say about themselves or others: “supposed to.” Somewhere down the line, people have acquired these shortcuts in their minds of what they and others are supposed to be like or do. The “supposed to’s” lead to expectations and expectations inevitably lead to resentments. Not ending there, these supposed to’s also lead to negative self-talk that defeats all the work done to improve self-esteem. There exists no manual for recovery, some people feel better immediately and some people take longer to get back to “normalcy.” Telling one’s self, “I’m supposed to feel better by now,” isn’t necessarily the case or fair and can lead to resenting emotions. Having patience and acceptance with one’s self during recovery stands essential.
I remember having three months of sobriety and still not being able to eat full meals, sleep for a full eight hours, or go to social events without having an anxiety attack. I looked around and saw others with the same amount of time and wondered how they seemed so much calmer and “better” than I felt at that time. I learned not to compare my insides with others’ outsides and everyone had their own battle. I also learned that “supposed to” was the biggest lie I could ever tell myself. Today I practice self-care and patience with whatever I’m going through because I know that, good or bad, this too shall pass.