Friday, June 17, 2011

Solutions - Step Four - Layers of resentment

This picture of steps makes me think of how when you are working the steps there is a little landing to rest on before you continue.

When I find myself in yet another place of letting go or in this case of jumping off I have to stop and reflect on how I got here.

When I started the program I believed that most things were concrete and had to be endured. Life dished out bad stuff and you suffered through the best you could. You were permanently scarred by your parents and a situation outside your control and you have to learn to live with the broken person you have become.

What the program and other spiritual adventures eventually brought me to was that wasn't really true. It was only true if I believed it to be true. That statement brought up a lot of resistance in my own mind. Things did happen to me so what do you mean it is my choice to continue to give those things power over me.

I didn't want it to be in my control I wanted someone to pay, someone to say they were sorry and then I wanted to find someone that I could trust that would never ever hurt me that way again. I was living in a fantasy.

Because of my confusion and pain I was no where ready to give up my cherished bag of righteous indignation. This is where the fourth step came in the first time. I think this is why we avoid it for as long as possible because after one, two, three we feel pretty good but we know within the fourth step lies secrets. Secrets that we have hidden about ourselves, terrible stuff.

Letting go of what we fear most frees us. My first fourth step was just the story of my life as I perceived it. At that time from a child's perspective. The neglect and isolation while my mother was sick. Then how my father chose my step mother over me and ending with my ex-husband choosing another woman over me. Can anyone see a pattern here? This was all I could handle acknowledging who wronged me. Resentments.

Then the next time around it got a little more serious, who did I wrong. In my mind nobody I was clearly the victim in my life and wallowing in self-pity and wanting comfort. I still do this but at least I can see it now. I had to own up to hurting other people. I really did the hurting in an unconscious way. I was hard as nails and ignored their opinions and pretended they didn't have feelings. I had gotten rid of my feelings, so I thought, after all those disappointments I wasn't about to feel bad for you.

This kind of thinking kept me stuck for a long time especially when it came to getting over my issues with my dad. I had to find a way to see him as human. One adult to another not from the child's view. From a child's perspective I wanted more but I didn't get it so how does hating him make me a happier person.

It wasn't that simple. First I had to make him human I did this by thinking about his life as a child. There was no love there and he was responsible for rounding up this siblings for regular beatings. As an adult he became a pacifist he wanted no conflict. I had to see this first.

Years later after I lost the most important person in my own life I had to see that my step mother ended his grief over my mother and he wasn't about to let anything change that. No, he wasn't acting in my best interest, he just wanted to be happy.

The next part of the healing of the fourth step is I had to ask myself, have I ever hurt someone else when I was just trying to feel better myself? Have I ever done anything without regard to another persons feelings. In grief did I do anything out or survival. Yes, but I expected more from him because he was my father. Did other people expect more from me? Yes. Am I capable of doing to others what has been done to me. Yes, I didn't believe that until I starting listing my grievances and turning them around.

Can I really expect people to treat me better than I treat them? This is a daily thing for me to look at (step 10). You spot it you got it they say. An on going issue. I ask myself, have I ever done that? It is humbling. So I have to let go and see it is not personal. I don't get up each day and plan to treat people bad. If I do hurt someone it is because I am not fully aware. The steps keep me awake. They help me see my own limitations and accept that we all have them.

This is just a little piece of my experience with the fourth step and the way I finally let go of my biggest resentment over my dad. But this happened in layers. Each time I was in pain it gave me an opportunity let more of it go.

I discovered that my thoughts were hurting me not something that happened when I was a helpless child. I see that no matter what I can't change that time in my life but I can keep the thought of it from hurting me now.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I'm working my first fourth step right now. This is what I'm working through. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  2. A great post. I have had similar feelings. I realize that I cannot keep the anger and resentment alive. It saps me of energy. Just because someone hurts me is no reason for me to hurt back or be angry at the world.