In Monday's Big Book study, we were reading about step 4, so the big topic of the evening was resentments. We talked about it from every conceivable angle. It generated a lot of discussion, because we've all had them and they have created all sorts of havoc for us.
A woman with nearly 20 years of recovery shared that a resentment that began as a tiny twinge, grew so large that she nearly walked away from what was then 16 years of recovery.
Someone brought up the commercial of the woman with the stuffy nose whose head blows up like a balloon until it looks like it's ready to pop. We all agreed that's what resentments can feel like.
We reminded ourselves of the old Al-Anon adage, that nursing a resentment is like swallowing poison and hoping the other person dies from it.
Here's what the Big Book has to say about it, in part:
"Resentment is the 'number one' offender. It destroys more alcoholics (here, we substitute 'Al-Anons') than anything else... It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while... For when harboring such feelings, we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol (here, I substitute 'sick thinking') returns and we drink ('get crazy') again." (pages 65 and 66)
The stories we shared played out just like that.
We talked about the tools that helped us get over our resentments. There were many. But one that the women in our group said has worked consistently is the resentment prayer. It's located on page 552 of the Big Book. Here's what it says:
"If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. As for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and yout will be free. Even when you don't really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don't mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and you want it for them, and you will realize that were you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love."
Many of the women said they had to pray the resentment prayer for longer than two weeks, but to a person, they all said it worked.
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