Resentments and Forgiveness
Hello everyone! I was asked by our Weekly Leader Listkeeper if I could step in to chair this week. After I said “yes,” I realized that this is the week of my sister’s birthday. She has chosen to not speak to or contact me since 1991. The reasons are multiple; I created and fanned some of them and some I did not. I have made 3 amends for my part in this situation.
What I have realized for the past few years, with the help of my sponsors and other AA folk, is that…
It doesn’t matter what my sister does or doesn’t do about the fact that I’m her sister. As one dear friend said about something else recently, “she isn’t doing anything TO me, she is just doing.”
It has taken me a loooonnnngggg time to come to this place of (mostly) quiet acceptance. And it has taken a long time for me to be uncomfortable enough when the self-righteous anger flairs up to quickly turn that moment into an opportunity to pray for her emotional and physical health. In fact, this whole “situation” has become a guide for me to assess where I am today in terms of acceptance.
I so wanted to be justified in my anger. I wanted to hold on to that anger, and the Big Book tells me that nursing anger will get me drunk. The Steps take me through the process of seeing my part in the situation, identifying my traits (character defects) that contribute to my part, turning those over for change to HP, then going forth and trying to right the wrongs I created. The story, Acceptance was the answer, tells me about the process of accepting the other person. The story, Freedom from Bondage, tells me about a tool (prayer for the person who I resent, asking for everything I want for myself to be given to the other person). And the book, 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, talks about the process of forgiveness in terms of the steps. So this process has taught me a lot:
- I have had to learn how to enact forgiveness
- I have had to learn how to pray for someone even when I don’t want to
- I have learned how to hand over – sometimes one minute at a time – another person to my Higher Power because I am not entitled to judge the state of anyone else’s life
- I must work the steps of AA to stay sober and to stay alive, and the most effective way to do this work is to let go of my expectations of others
- I must not expect perfection from me, and therefore I must not expect perfection from others.
- That when I live in the answer, the problem goes away (see Acceptance was the Answer for what I’m paraphrasing here).
Today, I feel a little melancholy that my sister isn’t in my life – and I needed to write that so I can ask HP to help me not slide into martyrdom and victimhood. And since the 16th is her birthday, I think prayers for joy and happiness for her are in order.
I would love to hear where you are with acceptance and forgiveness and how these states play out in your recovery. And if you don’t want to share about that, I hope you’ll share about where you are right now.