Wednesday, February 20, 2008


This post is on resentments. At Al-Anon a wise person told a few of us, if you had to choose between guilt and resentment, always choose guilt. For, he said, resentment will eat you up.

Very wise. We, as spouses and parents of alcoholics are angry. We are bitter because we felt "betrayed." We are angry because we feel "decieved," "lied to" and no cause to believe the person, because the trust has been broken. Not just once, but day in and day out, for years.

What is worse I guess - is the fact that if we feel this way, how do our little innocent children feel? Link here to Letter to Children

How does someone who does not live in the shroud of alcohol understand the sickness of alcoholism and how it affects everyone's well being?

It's like a suffocating blanket of lies, told a little bit at a time. You believe the little lie. You uncover later that it was a lie. You ask about it later to your spouse. You get a perfect answer, "I never said that, I said this." It's a little twist on the truth. That little twist is believable. We believe because, we are married to someone we entrusted with our future. We gave and continue to give.

Yet we were beginning to sense something is wrong. But we could not quite figure it out. Something, some how, did not match up. Our brains start to go into overdrive, analyzing events, conversations, facial expressions, searching for what is it that is not making sense . . .

Then one day, after months, and years of the deception, we uncover that hidden bottles of wine or beer or alcohol. Hidden. A key word, hidden. Yet, now it makes sense. We were beginning to think we were crazy. All the conversations that we convoluted, twisted lies, making us [me] feel, well, "lost" in an unreal world.

The alcoholic is very good and falsifying the truth and twisting it ever so slightly as to make you/me/us feel like the bad guy. And they begin to tell others, "She is crazy." Or "He has an issue with _____." You name it. It's us, not him/her. And brother or sister, do we look bad. And feel bad.

How many of you been called a "control freak?"
How about a "MF asshole?"
How about a "loser?"
How about someone who has no future or has no friends?

With these criticisms, the alcoholic is in full rage, full bloom. Love of the alcohol, has caused her/him to protect his/her addiction. And one of the protective mechanisms is to be little the other person as to make them feel inept, crazy, and bad. She or he can kill you with a few words. And even a glance, once they have you in their "hooks."

But the worst of all, I believe, is the apathy. The apathy is; "I don't care about you, because you are meaningless and worth nothing." It is a look, an attitude, and cutting remark. And to make matters worse, in my case anyway, the alcoholic can turn the charm on, but with others, hiding behind the charm. And when you see the adoration she pays to another person, it is hard not to say, "Hey, what about me? How come you don't pay me that kind of attention?"

At least you say it to yourself. You see the chasm between how she treats others versus how she treats you and your child. It is the attitude of, "You are not important. The world and universe revolves around me. I will get to you when I feel like I can spare the time."

So far, am I right on target? I just want to know. In fact, I want others who may skim this blog one day, others who never understand what we are going to through to understand that living with an alcoholic, especially one that is so full of his or her self, or so mean, that it is like torture.

How do you feel? Am I close?

This post started off as resentment and the nice "giving it up" type of sentence and the wonderful quote. But at times, it is hard to "give it up." Especially when when you finally realize you weren't the bad guy after all. But you were made to feel bad.

So, I choose not to be resentful or even guilty. Because while resentment will eat your insides, guilt will break your confidence in half.

I am not resentful. I am not even angry. I am/or was - very hurt. My mask that I used to wear, was anger. Then it was bitterness. Now I am just tired. Surrendered. Given up. You win alcohol. You kicked my sorry ass for 15 years. And most of the 15 years, I didn't even know I was fighting alcohol. I was just kicked down on the ground my a little lady who could diss you with a glance. And ignore you like you were an endentured servant.

If I sound pissed, may be, but just for a second, but for a second long enough to fight any feelings of guilt and remorse about the future path in front of me. Because guilt is another weapon used to keep you in place.

That is my pain. I cannot stand to be treated like a "no one;" a "nobody." AND I shall never be treated that way again. Mark my words dear reader, I will never ever be knocked down by a condescending attitude, ever again.

So how do you feel? If you had to explain to someone off the street, what you are going through, have gone through, how would explain the dark cloud that you feel envelope you as you walk into the home raging with alcoholism? What scars do you bear?


Anonymous said...

Resentment, it's been said is like taking poisen and wishing the other person would die.
Resentment, resent means to feel again and again, so basically I relive the same painful experience over and over again. Sometimes I get to feel angry and justified and somehow in a sick way it feels good, but other times it is a waste of my energy, and other times it just defines me and justifies my negative attitude. Like shit, it's warm and familiar.
Recovery has taught me my resentments will eventually kill me, I believe that so I surrender to Gods will and pray for the persons health, wealth and happiness and do what I need to take care of me and my kids. And when all else fails, there's always step 4 in our program to help rid us of resentment. Now about guilt...guilt is a choice....
Peace to all tonight.

A.J. said...

I think resentment may be the picture of anger as a fresh open wound.(pause and picture this...a BIG open wound)

That wound will either heal nicely leaving just a scar--or become infected. An infection will affect whole body and may eventually kill you if your body allows it to take over...

Is that a disgusting picture or what? When I stopped and closed my eyes for 60 seconds thinking about what resentment means to me--this is what I came up with.

I resented the alcoholic, and I'm trying to remember when I let that go. I think it eventually turned to anger and guilt and then more anger before finally feeling nothing. It was resentment while I believed the lies, and still resentment even after I discovered one by one--these lies weren't true. When I didn't want to feel resentment, then I felt guilt. I WAS INFECTED. I felt like I was not fighting hard enough to fix him and to fix us--and the alcohol was winning! Damn, I'm smarter than that alcohol. So, when I got kicked in the face over and over again (after the hurt)I went back to resentment...when I grew tired of resenting, back to guilt. See the cycle? Guilt weakens us and makes us come back for more.

When I began (I stress the word BEGAN) to fight off the infection so I wouldn't die and the wound could begin to heal, the resentment and guilt lessened. Initially, it was replaced with anger. How dare he make me feel like the crazy person! How dare he tell me it's my fault he drinks! How dare he tell me I need help and I'm nothing but a bitch and nobody likes me. HOW DARE I LET HIM AFFECT (OR IS IT INFECT) ME THIS WAY?

Someone at an Al-Anon meeting once said, "I refuse to self-destruct over someone elses sickness" (pause and think about that)

There was a time when I felt I could never let go of that anger--because if I did, my defenses would be down and he could re-infect me.

Now, the anger is gone. The resentment is gone. The guilt is gone. The wound is healing beautifully. Scars begin to fade, and they begin to blend in...and someday it won't be the first thing somebody sees. I had to leave--and I quit looking back anticipating a change once I fully accepted Step One and Step Two.

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

Ann said...

Joe -

You blog really rocks! Your posts are full of information. I went back through you labels (thank you for the post that explained how to search and find things) and found wonderful detailed information on codependency, boundary setting, detachment and much more.

I was beginning to think I was crazy and I searched for answers. I finally went to the internet and search Alcohol + Spouse + Crazy and found your site a few days ago. Thank God for that. I sat and cried when I read your posts, because I felt I was SO ALL ALONE. And not one person could hear me. I cried for help, and I felt horrible, like I was doing something wrong. My 8 yr old child, I try to protect. But it is hard to tell if my husband is drinking. He wants to drive. Why is it he wants to drive when he is drinking?? AND I cannot tell for sure that he has had something to drink, but suspect he has. Then when I get in the car with him, he is stopping for a red light 200 yards before we get to the light. Cars start beeping at us and all I want to do is to get out! And my little boy is in the backseat crying and hiding because as you can imagine, I get very angry and start yelling at him to pull the car over.

I see you have had the same problem. Except it is with your child where your wife drives around drinking when you are out of town. This must be very hard and frustrating. What gave me hope was seeing your advancement or your mental state improving in the progression of blog posts. You are also gaining your sense of humor and wit back and a sense of self confidence about who you are.

What I want to know, is this; My husband is blaming me for his drinking. He says, I bring it out in him and cause him to want to drink.

I linked to the resource centers at the bottom of your posts, US Government agencies and private foundations, and found no evidence of that.

Can any here tell me if this is possible. That I caused my husband to be an alcoholic??????


Anonymous said...

I think resentment is anger bottled up. I know in psychology that this is a mask for the pain we fear to display. Usually we get hurt emotionally and our defensive mechanism is to get angry.

There are several points of view in the therapeutic world of recovery. One reason a therapists wants to get the anger out and hear about it is because they can dive past it to get to the pain you are afraid of expressing.

Also anger can force people to act positively. Anger can be channeled to motivate a patient to take corrective actions and become, as you blog article is labeled, UNSTUCK.

My advice to you is to get UNSTUCK and do something. It appears you are getting UNSTUCK. Don't stay mired in the past.

Remember Step 1 and Step 4 in Al-Anon. It's a good program for anyone in treatment as a spouse or relative of an addiction.


Anonymous said...

Dear HELP,
My husband also tried to blame me for his drinking. He also had his family convinced that I was to blame for his drinking.

I know it is not my fault!!!!!

I am sure he didn't choose to become an alcoholic but
your husband, like mine, is responsible for his drinking, he CHOOSES to drink.


Ashley said...

One of the first things I learned in Al-Anon is I didn't Cause it, can't Cure it & can't Control it.

I am absolutely 100% positive that you didn't make your husband an alcoholic.

That being said, I've realized that I played a part in the chaos in our house. Once I figured out what my boundaries are (which I'm still putting together), I learned I could let go of the little things, the things that really didn't affect me, just made me angry. I learned that arguing with an intoxicated person is like banging your head against a brick wall. You don't make any impression on the wall, and just end up hurting your head! :)

Just remember the three C's - you didn't cause it, can't cure it, and can't control it. It is not your fault! And yes, it's VERY common for them to blame the people around them. My husband has said the same thing to me MANY times. Alcoholism is a disease, you are no more to blame for it than you would be if your husband had diabetes or cancer.

The tough thing to realize though is that living with a sick person, affects you as well - you become sick/co-dependent/focused more on him than yourself.

Hang in there, keep reading, and look into attending an Al-Anon meeting - it's the best thing you could do for yourself (because everyone there knows exactly what you're going through and you're no longer alone anymore!)

FrannyGlass said...

I could really relate to what you said about your partner "turning on the charm" when others are around. (One of) the alcoholics in my life is an expert at this. He's a total charmer...with others. Even though he's been sober for six months, he still has that "I want what I want when I want it" attitude. The result is that I often look like the bad guy -- someone who's "no fun", or too controlling. Reading your blog has helped me not feel so alone, and it's inspired me to attend more Al-Anon meetings. I'm tired of the insanity, too.

Anonymous said...

At 47 years of age, I have finally come to the conclusion that I only have 1 round in this world, and thus far, really haven't scratched the surface of what God intended my life to be. And for the most part, it is MY FAULT, however it is comfortable to place the blame on others because the disappointed me, lied to me, cheated on me, or just didn't care about me. Regardless, if you try to draw strength from all of the above, it all just turns to excuses, and a reason why not to try to change.

Resentment, just another link in the long chain attatched to the ball.... Been dragging it around way to long, and finally decided to find some bolt cutters and let it go. Had to, on faith, because everywhere I turned, nothing changed. It was just pure existance, filling time, and always ending my day in misery.

I don't want that anymore. I want to experience life the way it is ment to be, and designed to be by my higher power. It has ment that I make decisions I never thought I could, they scare me, because they are unknow, so I walk on faith that God will steer me down the path of the future, if I take care of my today.

Amazingly enough, day by day, one link at a time the chain is eliminated based on decisions that are defined, and acted on in a positive way, for me and those in my sphere.

It starts with me, and ends with me. The decisions I make put me in the place I am at today. Decisions, decisions, decisions....

I am responsible for my words, my actions, my place, and who I surround myself with. I have made some horrific enabling decisions in my life, and honestly, resent myself for many of them.

Alanon, and the thoughts of people like yourselfs are an amazing source of power for me, and I can tell you from my heart, the tough decisions, the ones I didn't want to make, have brought the most healing, and provide me a place to break down, resentment, anger, frustration, and fear.

For the first time in many, many years, I feel FREE!

Make it a great day. Peace to you all this Thursday.


Ashley said...


I'm starting to recognize the way you write - before I even got to the bottom of your comment, I knew you were writing it.

Thank you for commenting and adding your two cents (although to me, it's worth way more than that).

work in progress said...


resentments. ugh! i gotta work on this. letting this stuff go. but if i do, who am i? that is my issue. once i let all this stuff go, and have no resentments and no guilt and let the past go.....what is left? i know there will be something, something good. love and life and all that. but it is unknown. it's scary. my resentments are known, comfortable. but horrible all the same. right? sometimes i think it was easier when i wasn't aware, in denial. but once you know, you can't unknow, right?

thanks for posting. i don't want resentments. i am working on that. so good to know that you are too. we aren't alone. i am grateful for that today. for the "we" in all of this.

and i love your blog. it is great. thanks for sharing. i love the idea of the quote of the day. wonder if i could "borrow" that idea for my blog? i was gonna put tons of quotes up all at once, but one a day seems a better approach. love it.

with love and gratitude

Syd said...

I have felt insignificant and ignored for many years. It was enough to kill feelings I had about myself and my wife. Now I do the things that I want to do and don't try so hard anymore. I used to try and try but have decided that I would rather please myself now than please others. That revelation has come through Al-Anon and total surrender.

Laurie said...

Joe - you are right on! For me, I always chose guilt. I was brought up on the "guilt trip". I thought my husband's drinking was my fault and I felt enormous guilt. And I did make some awful choices which I felt were the reason he drank. I had heard the three C's, but still I believed they didn't apply to me because they didn't take into consideration what "I had done." My husband used guilt and blamed me for his drinking. I finally got sick of it. The way he chooses to act is not my fault and I will not feel guilty about it. Well, that's great, however the words still hurt. They still cut deep. My resentment turns to hate and disgust. I'm learning, from all of you, to step away. Disengage, detach, set a boundary. I haven't really done it yet, but I think I've made some progress. I can only be responsible for me. I heard once that as soon as we wake up and plant our feet on the floor we should remember to thank the Lord for the blessing of the day. Choose to be grateful for the day. Choose to be joyful of the day. I often forget, but when I remember, the day is better.

Thanks to you all - you've been a blessing to me!

Marie said...

Hi All,
It is serendipity that the topic is resentment today. I have this horrible feeling in the pit of my gut all day and its name is resentment(with a side order of guilt I suppose) I like to think that I am a good person but as you all know my spouse thinks otherwise his comments to me are sickening and all day long today I have been resenting him. In various ways:
1. First of all I seriously resent that I had to move out of my house because hes to much of an ass to stay away and leave me and our girls alone.(This is a huge one that is really eating me up these days especially when I pay the mortgage)

2. I resent the fact that he makes me feel extremely guilty because I won't stop what I' doing to take him to AA (This happened again today 2nd time this week)

3. I resent the fact that no matter how hard I work at taking care of everything in our lives he still doesnt think I do Shit!!!

4. I resent the fact that he hasn't taken the girls 1 night in 6 weeks by himself I am the sole caregiver to our children(Not that I mind but I could use a break too)

5. I resent that everytime he relapses its like he gets a F&#%ing vacation from life and I am still the one handling everything.

6. I resent that fact that I have to step over his drunken body and wish he would just die already and give us some peace.

7. I resent that fact that for the rest of my life I have to worry if my daughters will be with an alcoholic.

8. I resent the fact that I have been wishing and praying and hoping now for 10 years that this will go away and he will get better and I am only 32??Am I wasting my life or what??

9. I resent the fact that I know what is the right choice but that the right choice sucks!!!

10. I resent that part of me wishes I could believe all of his recovery bullshit (That this time is different)

11. I resent the fact that I am expected by him to support his recovery but anything that has ever happened to me he has used drinking as his excuse to not support me!!

Thank you all for listening I really needed this tonight and this is exactly how I have been feeling all day!! I feel like my head is spinning Im Lost at least for tonight tomorrows another day!

Joe said...

Marie -
I think that is great to know what pisses you off.

He can get a ride to AA. AA has buddies and friends who will reach out to get him. He is, as a friend of mine likes to say "3 times 7" (21 yrs old).

I can't help but think your decisions are moving you in direction that will provide you peace and happiness somewhere along the line. Hold out that hope and that vision to give you courage.

Check with your lawyer, and with your sponsor but one thing you may consider, and this might seem hateful but it's not, stop paying the bills so he can live.

In our "family meeting sessions" (which I attended ALONE - note family & alone)the counselor advised people to stop paying for the alcoholics life. The car bills, the electricity, the food the whatever. It was, he said, "enabling" the alcoholic. And he was talking about children and adults (anyone over 21).

I guess enabling the alcoholic means, not letting them face reality.

This decision has other ramifications, as you probably thought about this already. My mother could not do this, because she had nt developed a support system of friends, and she couldn't, she was too busy taking care of all of us.

My best to you and your family

Ashley said...


I read your comment last night, and it's taken me awhile to respond to it. It struck very close to home with me - all of your resentments are hidden inside me. I don't actively think of them, but they're still there. It's really really hard living in that world.

I don't even know if I have any experience, strength or hope to share. I do think that Joe makes a good point. How much of you doing everything, is enabling him to continue doing what he does. On the other hand, if your name is on the mortgage, it affects your credit to not pay it (not to mention, who wants to lose their house??).

I don't envy your situation at all, but if it helps, you're in my prayers!