Addiction, Recovery:

Resentment | The Purpose It Serves and How To Let Go Of It

4 May 2011 by Recovering You, 3 Comments »


Living with an addict, loving an addict, relationship with an addict, addiction?esentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.?/strong> ~ Malacky McCourt

You?e been hurt, lied to, disrespected, manipulated and put in situations you don? want to be in.

The thoughts of everything that has occurred are painful, you feel indignant and angry about how you have been treated and the circumstances you have been forced into. You feel contempt and bitterness towards the person who caused it all and you want them to feel as bad as you do.

What you are feeling is resentment.

When addiction is brought into your life, inevitably at some point you will experience resentment. Unfortunately the negative behaviours and actions of an addict and the resulting effects on others frequently leaves a sense of wrong doing and humiliation and this is often where resentment rises from.

What you feel resentful about will differ, depending on the actions of your addict, and the things you are upset by.

Common resentments are:

  • Being left through separation or the addict going into care
  • Having to keep the house running without help
  • Poor financial situations
  • Having to manage the finances
  • Not feeling supported
  • Needing to be the ?nly adult?/li>
  • Having been lied to
  • Being stolen from
  • Hearing nasty and vindictive comments
  • Being taken advantage of
  • Lowered living standards

And the list can go on.

But what purpose does resentment serve?

None, absolutely none.

Resentment is just another form of anger and anger doesn? ever bring anything good into our lives.

Resentment is also a lack of acceptance and forgiveness and is triggered in our own minds, by the repeated thoughts of negative moments that have already happened. Holding onto resentment gives away the responsibility for that life experience, to whoever you are resentful towards and it causes stress and disharmony for a lot longer than the original event.

Only you can control the feelings of resentment. you can choose YOUR life experience.

What we focus on manifests. I strongly believe this.

If you let resentment settle into your thinking, you give it space to grow, become toxic and multiply. It won? ever be a healthy emotion and the more you nurture it by giving it focus, the more resentment you will feel.

Resentment raises a barrier against the person who has wronged you but it can also raise barriers against other people you care more about as it breeds distrust and a lack of acceptance of others. Ironically, resentment often has no real impact on the person you resent which means the feelings are all yours to bare.

So who are you really hurting?

This goes to show that only YOU can rid yourself of resentment. It? not for our addicts to resolve that for us. They can? undo what has been done. And they can’t begin to make amends for it while still in the grip of addiction so what good does staying angry at the past do anyone?

Perhaps you believe that once your addict has sought recovery you won’t feel so resentful towards them?

Recovery doesn? always automatically spell the end of the negative feelings. It’s not always the silver bullet and many partners and spouses go on to feel resentment despite the fact that their addict is living a committed recovery and doing their best to reform their ways.

Often people think that if they let go of yesterday, let go of the anger, they are letting their addict off the hook. That they have avoided any responsibility and there is suddenly a free pass. This isn? the case. What you are really doing is opening the door for acceptance, for better communication and for a more positive future. With resentment those doors remain closed.

There has to come a point where you decide to leave behind what is in the past.

So how can you begin to let the resentment go?

A process I use with my clients to clear anger and resentment is to have them write a letter to the person they are resentful towards. I ask them to write down EVERY injustice, real or perceived and what impact it had on them in the letter and end each sentence with ??ut I choose to forgive you and move forward?

They do not send the letter. This process is purely for them and allows them to fully express the dialogue in their head that feeds the resentment. When the letter is complete I have them tear it up into tiny tiny pieces and take it somewhere they can discard of it fully. Some take it to the beach, some to up a hill to a cliff face. Anywhere, as long as all those tiny pieces are scattered, the resentment is released and they walk away feeling a new sense of freedom to look forward instead of behind them.

So, are you ready to let go of your resentment? Is it time? Imagine how the mental freedom you will feel when you have.


Photo credit: ?2004Dave Sliozis

Tags: , , , ,


  1. […] hold an imaginary future up as your measure against what you have today and you become increasingly resentful and dissatisfied with the […]

  2. Jan says:

    Rachael, I’m so glad to have found your site today. Off all I have been reading about living with an alcoholic spouse, your words and advice have really hit home and your experience gives me hope.

    Regarding letting go of resentment, I understand what you are saying about past issues — what about the every day resentment I find myself experiencing? I resent that you do not shower; I resent that we cannot go anywhere together because you will not/cannot leave the house; I resent that I do not have a companion; I resent that I cannot sleep because you scream till 3 a.m.? I’m working so hard on detaching but have a long way to go… I try to imagine that this were another disease — cancer, Alzheimer’s, thinking that I would have more compassion about my currently ambiguous loss.


    • Recovering You says:

      Hi Jan

      Thanks for your question. I understand those ‘present’ resentments well.

      I remember resentment that I had to pay all the bills, that I had to lie to my step son for my husband, that there was a very real chance that he could kill himself and leave us alone.

      Emotional detachment was the only way I could let go of that resentment, and really taking hold of what I could control, and not focussing on what I couldn’t. I couldn’t make my husband stop doing what he was doing, and being resentful and angry made no difference to his choices. But it made a difference to the person I was. I was becoming bitter and angry over everything, because of what HE was doing. I had to learn that even though I didn’t like what he was doing, and much of it had the power to affect me, being resentful wouldn’t change anything.

      It was more important to engage in my own life than give my energy to resenting everything about his.

      I know this is a long road, but I hope this helps in some way. Please feel free to comment again with any further questions or thoughts.

Leave a Reply