The week’s HTYH is a continuation of Dave’s story: I asked an A.A. man to be my sponsor and after we reviewed the first three steps and said the Third Step prayer together, I started on my 4th Step inventory list. He wrote fear at the top of the first page, resentment at the top of the second page and sex at the top of the third page. He asked me to spend 15 minutes each night meditating. I was supposed to start writing even if I didn’t believe it would work. At the top of the “fear” page he wrote a simply prayer: “Dear God, Help me to see my fears and what I’m afraid of– in your way, not mine.” He didn’t want paragraphs or sentences just whatever fear came to mind and he gave me a pencil to write it down with. On the “resentment” page he wrote another prayer, “Dear God, Help me to see whom I’m resentful at and why. On the third page under “sex” he wrote another prayer, “Dear God, Please help me to see any sexual activities, attitudes or thoughts that have harmed me or others, or damaged my relationship to you—in your way, not mine.”

On the resentment page, I wrote down my mother’s name first and the reason I resented her was, “She kicked me back to the ground after I wrecked my bicycle and she broke a broomstick over my back. My sponsor directed me to the Big Book and suggested I should read page 66: “The first thing apparent was that this world and its people were often wrong. To conclude that others were wrong was as far as most of us ever got. The usual outcome was that people continued to wrong us and we stayed sore. Sometimes it was remorse and then we were sore at ourselves. But the more we fought and tried to have our own way, the worse matters got. As in war, the victor only seemed to win. Our moments of triumph were short-lived.

It is plain that a life that 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 worthwhile? But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The alcoholic insanity returns and we drink it again. And for us, to drink alcohol is to die.
If we were to live, we must be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal people, but for alcoholics these things are poison.

Resentments usually have an underlying fear and anger is aroused whenever one of our basic instincts has been threatened. The three main instincts threatened are our social instinct (what will others think of me), our security instinct (normally money or finances) or, our sex instinct (if my wife divorces me, my sex life is threatened). In reviewing my resentment list, after searching for which of my instincts had been threatened, I was supposed to also search for my part in that resentment. Since my mother’s name was at the top of my resentment list, I searched for which of my basic instincts had been threatened. I discovered that when she kicked me back to the ground and broke that broomstick over my back that “fear,” was beneath it and not to mention my self-esteem and male ego were threatened too.

My sponsor asked, “What was your part in that resentment, David?”

I tried to convince him that I didn’t have a part in it–it was all her fault. She kicked and beat me–not the other way around. “You don’t understand,” he said. “What was your part in that resentment?” He directed me to page 67 of the Big Book: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When offended we said to ourselves, “This is a sick person.” How can I be helpful to them? God save me from being angry. “Thy will be done.”

Referring to our resentment list again. Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? What is your part in that resentment David?
My part in that resentment turned out to be that she had asked me not to ride my bicycle to the hen house. I ignored her and pretended not to hear her and when I wrecked my bike and broke the eggs she went berserk.

To be continued.

John Barleycorn

The phantom writer of the column "Here's to Your Health". This writer is an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and therefore must maintain anonymity. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer