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In this episode we address a question which is centered around resentment. Resentment is a stumbling block in recovery we all have to face. But it isn’t insurmountable. It can be overcome. Steve, James and his wife Kristy talk about their personal experiences with and opinions about resentment, forgiveness, self-compassion, validation, and more. If you have an anonymous question, please submit it here.
The Question: I came across your podcast on Spotify recently and binge-listened to all of your podcast episodes at work. I loved them so much and I appreciate the mission you’re seeking to accomplish through this forum by helping people feel unashamed about addiction recovery and unafraid to let Christ take the pain for us.
I am a single 20-year-old man living in Utah and I have struggled with porn addiction since I was 10 years old. When I was 17 I went through rigorous recovery efforts so I could be worthy to be an LDS missionary and succeeded (I left for the mission field in May of 2018), but had to return home early after 2 months because of the severe anxiety and depression I had not fully healed from in my addiction recovery efforts. It absolutely crushed me to come home early and many of my friends didn’t know how to help me during this difficult time. My loneliness hit an all time high, and my depression became even more extreme during the next 6 months of being home. Consequently I’ve fallen heavily back into porn addiction, and I am going through addiction recovery again. It feels like a whole new ballgame compared to when I last went through rigorous addiction recovery efforts.
A big driving factor I have for my addiction is resentment towards everyone around me - for the mistakes my parents made raising me, for my friends who have left me behind and hanging out to dry, and to almost anyone around me who doesn’t notice how lonely and depressed I am, despite them professing to be followers of Christ and pledging to help all those in need. Struggling with porn addiction, along with anxiety/depression is an incredibly lonely path, and I easily get resentful towards those around me who don’t recognize how to help me. My question is, how can I let go of that resentment? My biggest fear about being honest and completely open about my addiction recovery is that I risk getting hurt more by people around me, thus giving me even more “reason” to have resentment towards those around me. But this resentment is really holding me back in my recovery, and I want to heal. What would you suggest to someone in my situation?
I look forward to hearing back from you, thanks for all the amazing work you’re doing. I am convinced that it was God’s hand in my life to happen upon this forum.
Answer: First, we want to validate that you are likely not getting the help you need from friends, family, and your church community. You probably are getting shamed for coming home early from your mission and other cultural boxes you haven’t checked. The reason why friends and others in your life likely aren’t showing up for you is they lack the capacity to do so. They probably just don’t know how to help you and show up in the way you need. However, that doesn’t mean your pain is less real or less relevant. Have self-compassion for the difficulty you are going through. This needs to be acknowledged. Todd Olson, Steve’s therapist, says, “It happened, it hurt, and it mattered”.
Holding onto resentment is like withholding forgiveness and it only hurts you. Having resentment toward your friends isn’t hurting your friends, it’s hurting you. You can move through your resentment and heal with God whether those around you change or not. James had to challenge his resentment with consistent forgiveness again and again and over time the resentment slowly faded. Becoming free of resentment is not like a light switch. A book that helped James overcome resentment was Viktor Frankl’s “Man's Search for Meaning”.
“The antidote to fear is faith, the antidote to anger is love, and the cure for resentment is acceptance of what happened in the past.” - Kristy
The glue that is securing your resentment in place is your need for validation from these people. As Lecrae said in his book, “If you live for their acceptance, you’ll die by their rejection”. God is the only person who can validate the wounds that have formed into resentment. Even if your friends, family, and church members come and validate you it won’t be enough to change your addiction, depression, or anxiety.
We suggest these steps (Basically step 8 of the 12 steps):
Write it down. What hurt, what happened, and how it affected you.
Self Inventory. What could you have done differently? Have you made any mistakes in the process? Anything you can change that is contributing to the problem?