For the past few years, I have been active in a 12-Step program that is helping me deal with issues that date back to my early childhood, many years prior to my problems with alcohol and other drugs. In the interest of anonymity, I’ll only say that it’s one of the “S” programs. I don’t know where I would be without this program (although I could make a couple of good guesses). It has changed my life, my relationships with my family, and especially my relationship with myself. But that’s not what this is about.
I’ve been in the “grandfather” of the 12-Step programs for many years. Despite that, I continued with what I now consider my primary addiction, my denial so strong that I didn’t even recognize the cause of all my problems, and there were many. It was never addressed directly by that program, which sticks really close to its primary purpose, and I certainly never brought it up. As a result, when circumstances forced me to take a good look at my “outside issues”, I got a bit of a resentment toward my original program.
I couched it in various ways that we need not get into here, but I definitely implied to a number of people, including my own dear personal wife*, that I considered my newfound program and revelations to be somehow beyond the reach of the other program. Generally, my comments were not complimentary, even though there is no question about that program having saved my life a quarter-century ago.
I’ve come to understand that this was just another form of denial, an attempt to pass on my own responsibilities to a program that isn’t designed to uncover sexual issues. If it had failed me, then maybe I was less responsible for not having recognized and dealt with those issues until they almost ruined my life. It was blaming, one of the most common forms of denial, and the one that tends to pop into our minds first when we’re confronted with “stuff” for which we don’t want to take responsibility.
Most of my remaining resentments are like that. Usually, the underlying cause is that I don’t want to take responsibility for something that I did, that led to something someone else did, that I then built the resentment around.
There are, of course, exceptions. Many exceptions. But I’m finding it useful to ask the old, worn-but-not-worn-out question: “What is/was my part in this?” More often than I’d like, I find the other old saying to be true:
When I point my finger at others, there are three fingers pointing back at me.
*Who has been in recovery — real recovery — far longer than I….
Great post. I’ve experienced resentments along the same lines. I like the bit about what happens when we point the finger. It was really hard for me to look at “my side of the street”. I had no practice in it before!