What does it mean and who said it? “Resentment is the number one offender”
Bill Wilson co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous wrote the phrase “resentment is the number one offender” in the Big Book.
Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry. We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So we were sore. We were “burned up.”
On our grudge list we set opposite each name our injuries. Was it our self-esteem, our security, our ambitions, our personal, or sex relations, which had been interfered with?
It means that if we hold onto resentments then we will relapse and resentment is the cause of our relapse. But really how true is that? Well at face value it appears that resentment toward others and anger is the cause of our relapse. It seems to be the most dominant emotion addicts have when going back out.
However, I am not so sure the resentment for others has taken the relaps-er back out. I rather think anger and blame in the form of resentment is the survival skill which helps us live with ourselves when we step back into a life we know will kill us. There is actually only one resentment that sends us back out if you look deeper into our hearts, which is a resentment toward self.
But what lies underneath our self loathing? Our self loathing is at the core of all our other resentments. Ask any addict in the midst of a relapse and he will most likely deny to you his self-hate. Addicts carry much shame and shame is at the core of our deception to self and others. Un-processed shame, and hurt are at the core of our addiction. These are the feelings stuck in our crawl. These are what carries us to the dope man.
Addicts suffer from emotional constipation and Shame is truly at the core of that stuck place. Shame is my #1 Offender Resentment springs from Shame to cover it up. SHAME SUCKED MY LIFE FORCE AND LIED TO ME FOR YEARS
Bill W. touched on it when he mentions “emotional disorder” he just didn’t elaborate or realize that emotional constipation which is disorder was at the core of most addictions. (At least that’s my theory.)
Hurt transforms into anger and we can’t cope with hating ourselves so we bury the hate into a thing called blame. We are constantly on the look-out for new people, places and things to blame for the way we feel deep inside. We deceive us and others. We must resent people and blame them to deal with and cover up the way we actually feel about ourselves. The only true resentment that sends us back out is the resentment toward ourselves.
Why do people claim they have a cure for addiction? Why are some people cured and others sign on to the belief “once an addict always an addict”. Simply because they don’t know the cure. Or they have done one part of the cure and left off another.
What is the cure?
Find the core issues of the original hurt and pain, usually stemming from a very early age, and emotionally process them. (cry, scream, write, share). Transcendental meditation will show us our core issues. While at the same time we must develop new routines, new habits, new people, places, and things. Find new goals and a new purpose for life that is healthy. Work the twelves steps and learn how to use the steps when needed including the fear list and steps three, four, eleven, and twelve. Work step twelve for several years or some kind of service work to build self-esteem. And the big one (included in the steps) get a Higher Power by seeking with your heart and stay in contact with that Higher power as much as possible.
That all sounds like allot. Isn’t there an easier softer way? YES AS A MATTER OF FACT THERE IS AN ‘EASIER SOFTER WAY’. But it’s not something you can buy or special order. You can put yourself in a position to get it but there are no guarantees if you do get it how long it will last as your only source of recovery. The white light experience straight from God is the only easier softer way. Usually people who receive white light experiences go on to carry the message of Jesus Christ or God while not doing any of the 12 step work on their character flaws. And why would they? They are riding a pink cloud. But pink clouds don’t last. God will remove some flaws during this experience but seldom, well I have never ever seen God make anybody perfect…ever. So usually these people fall into some flavor of character flaw. Most likely they delve into judging others, get their resentment back and relapse. Then they really hate themselves even more because now they are turning their back on a God they know exists.
I know, sad story…I am talking about myself during my first bout of recovery. And I have seen this same pattern manifest often in others, usually Christians in recovery. Never the less it does not mean God fails or Jesus has abandon us somehow. It just means God clearly WILL NOT TAKE A HUMAN’S SELF-WILL. He will enlighten us, but it’s up to us to go out and get fulfillment once we are enlightened. Hence step eleven and why it works, it fulfills us spiritually. Step twelve builds our self worth, and fulfills us spiritually. Step Ten, well I have found that Ten really isn’t enough, but instead it’s step four that I need to revisit every six months to a year and do thoroughly. When fear of relapse slips in, I remember two things, I have turned my life and will over to the care of God. And the program works, I can turn to the program, work a step. This is what keeps me sober after countless lapses. Sure if I rely on me I will fail. I rely on God, the steps, and the fact that I am being healed and healing by processing core issues.
So can I really call this a cure? ABSOLUTELY! There are many things that humans have to do to stay well. Such as eating, sleeping, nurturing and being nurtured. We do not call ourselves sick because we require food. why would I call myself sick because I require a spiritual program?
I DO NOT NEED TO CALL MYSELF SICK TO BE RECOVERED. THAT’S RIDICULOUS! CALLING MYSELF SICK AND AN ADDICT IS NOT WHAT HEALS OR KEEPS ME SOBER IS IT?
NO. I WAS AN ADDICT FOR 35 YEARS I KNOW WHAT SICK IS. I WILL NO LONGER CALL MYSELF SICK UNDER THE ILLUSION AND FEAR THAT IF I SAY I AM HEALED I WILL RELAPSE. THAT IS A.A. SUPERSTITION AND LORE WHICH IS DERIVED FROM FEAR.
The 12 Steps- every resentment, shame, every guilt, every hate, every prejudice, every intense hurt, every theft. We do this till a light goes off and we then recognize our character defect patterns. I recommend at least 1 page of writing for each offense. Repeat the process every year and when we get bungled up.
New fellowship either church, AA people, somewhere we can start a new social life.
Therapy honest and thorough, we must go back and feel the pain and process it out in an emotional way.
God-find your God
We can change who we are but it takes work. So what Life is work.
Be Sure to read part 2 “Is Resentment the #1 Offender?”