I often hear people quote the line in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous where it says, “Resentments are our #1 Offender.” I have taken this line as gospel, and done everything possible to purge myself of resentments. Furthermore, I try to prevent from acquiring resentments in the first place. However, after having a discussion with one of the most special people in my life, I have come to a somewhat contradictory conclusion.
I have found that although resentments are extremely harmful to alcoholics and addicts, self-resentments are the absolute worst. The word “resent” comes from the Latin “re” (again) and “sentire” (to feel). The word literally means “to feel again.” When I do something that I know is wrong, I end up resenting myself. I may not hate myself, but I feel the guilt over and over again. Regardless of who I have hurt with my action, I generally know what is right and wrong, and have a feeling of guilt regardless.
For example, if I steal something small from a large corporation who does not notice the loss financially nor personally, I still will develop a resentment against myself. This is because I have a growing sense of integrity. I know that although the large company may not have noticed the loss, I broke my code of ethics to myself.
Examples that happen more frequently is that I say something rude or snap at someone, procrastinate, put distance between myself and my program, or refuse to do dishes or clean. These things, as seemingly little as they are, heavily effect an over-sensitive alcoholic such as myself. When I am not doing the things that I know I should be doing, I begin to resent myself.
I know that as a 21-year old young man, I am working hard to become an adult. I am also working hard to run my own business that I started in sobriety. I am working to restitute the damage I have done to society, my family, my friends, and myself. When I am behaving in a way that does not push me toward achieving these goals, I know I am not acting with integrity.
Psychologist Carl Rogers spoke about the gap between the real self and ideal self. The real self is who we actually are, who other people see us as. The ideal self is exactly as it sounds: an ideal form of ourself that we hope to achieve. Rogers insisted that the larger the gap is between our ideal self and real self, the more discord we will find in our lives. When we are actively bringing our real self closer to our ideal self, we know productiveness and integrity.
As is discussed in many meetings, esteemable actions are necessary for alcoholics. They build esteem, and take away the “piece of sh*t-ism” in our own heads. In a sense, an esteemable act is any action that pushes me closer toward me achieving my ideal self.
The feeling of guilt I experience over things is extreme, and best avoided. In order for me to not behave this way, I must live with integrity. Although I may stray from my morals at times, I try to live with the utmost integrity. It keeps me from straying from my true being. Furthermore, when I act without integrity, I end up having to make amends promptly!