Resentment can be defined as holding onto pain, anger or the wrongdoing of another. In the recovery movement, letting go of resentment is part of the foundation of sobriety. Most of us can’t imagine WANTING to sit with resentment; it’s discomfort is the emotional equivalent of rubbing sandpaper on sunburned skin. I can easily identify the behaviors of others that create my resentment, but when it’s my own choices that fuel my internal wrath, my awareness is sometimes less than crystal-clear.
On Mother’s Day, we got invited to my mother-in-law’s for brunch to celebrate the day, and to my brother’s for dinner to fete my mom. Both houses are an hour apart, and nearly as far from our own home. That meant I would be spending my Mother’s Day largely in transit between two points, and while I love both the moms in my life, I had also been looking forward to wiling away the afternoon on my couch, reading a trashy novel and eating junk food provided by my loving family. To be clear, neither my mom or mother-in-law “required” my appearance. In fact, they would’ve signed off on my hedonistic plans with complete support. But my sense of propriety or guilt, habit or belief about what was the “right” choice to make, led me to decide to spend the day meeting what I believed was everyone else’s needs over my own. Which, not surprisingly, led me to a state of exhaustion and resentment that I didn’t do what I wanted to do. I couldn’t blame my wife, my mom or mother-in-law for my emotional state. I couldn’t hold society’s expectations that we spoil our mothers on Mother’s Day to task for MY decision. Ultimately, how I spent my day was my choice. By not being conscious and present to my decision, I denied my moms my full participation in their celebrations as much as I denied myself some R&R. I need to accept the mantra I tell my clients: to value our selves equal to others is not selfish, it’s self-ist. I won’t wait until the next holiday to listen to my feelings and respect my own needs alongside others’. I’ve felt the burn, and I’m ready to drop that rock.