Ep 6 - Anonymous Questions Answered: Resentment

How much courage does it take to send us an open question like this? I want to commend our anonymous question submitter for such great courage! Your question is likely a question many have. We hope this helps and we want you to know that you are also helping others by submitting your question. 

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):

  1. Write it down. What hurt, what happened, and how it affected you. 

  2. 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?

“Forgiveness is to abandon all hope of a better past.”  

Usually, when we have hard feelings towards someone else, we have those same hard feelings towards ourselves. If you are like most of the addicts we know you don’t have self-compassion, but self-loathing and self-contempt. It would be worth an honest conversation with Christ about why you might be resentful with yourself. Do you want to kick this conversation off to a big start? Come to the Warrior Heart Retreat. Taking things like this are what this retreat is all about. God will show up. We invite you to come. You expressed worrying about getting hurt more if you reach out. Pray and ask for God to put people in your life that will be safe for you to be vulnerable with and seek God’s guidance on this. He will put people in your life who are safe and can support you (So come to the retreat!). There is no neutral. You will have community and influences around you no matter what. And if you don’t proactively choose your community then the adversary will. James talks about regretting that there were good men in his life that would have supported him (and he could have supported) if he would have just reached out.    

Resentment is hard. Also, it is usually a secondary emotion. One part of resentment may be tied to being “right”. Usually, resentment is not about resentment but something deeper that is hurting you that you likely have some fear around. Maybe you feel like you’ve failed? Maybe you don’t feel like you're enough? Or you feel unworthy of love and belonging?

We know you have been wounded and it matters. You are worthy and you are enough. Go to God to get validated on these wounds and don’t wait for the people in your life to come to you. Your past and life experiences have painted a picture of who God is that is not true. Reach out to him for validation. We hope this was helpful and we know you have helped others with your courage so we thank you!