Did you know that expectations can lead us into harboring resentments? Think about it, if you don’t expect something to happen there’s no way of being disappointed. Alcoholics have a way of committing to do something and then not following through. This sort of behavior can cause deep rooted bitterness to form over time as destructive seeds of resentment and unforgiveness begin to grow. The following story will reveal a method that works wonders for putting an end to the cycle of being angry and frustrated when an alcoholic doesn’t follow through with their commitments.
We had made plans to go to the theater and see a play. For a month I had done my best to ensure that the alcoholic was reminded of this special evening that would be filled with Christmas cheer and biblical wonder. I imagined having a wonderful time together. I also subconsciously feared she would mess the whole thing up. For a couple of years our date nights would periodically be broken because my alcoholic wife would decide to go party with friends instead of following through with the plans we had made.
I had been attending alcoholism support group meetings for a couple of months and had started to develop a few good friendships. Tom was one of the guys I really connected with well. We would talk after meetings and sometimes on the phone. His wife was the reason he came into the program. She was the type of alcoholic who did all of her drinking at home. I remember him telling me that once she started a binge it would go on for months at time.
The day of the Christmas play, my wife was scheduled to work until about three in the afternoon. We had reserved seats so there was no rush. As long as we left the house by six thirty we would make it with fifteen minutes to spare. On her way home from the hospital, where she worked, she decided to stop at a friend’s house just down the street. I started watching the clock wondering and waiting. When five o’clock passed, the anxiety intensified. When the digital clock rolled over to five thirty, I called her cell phone. When there was no answer, the anger started to build.
In the support group program I attend, they talk about the importance of having an alternate plan when we have something scheduled to do with the alcoholic. This is the key to destroying resentment seeds before they can be planted. Since I was new to the program, I’d not had the opportunity to use this particular method of diffusing a dysfunctional situation as it was beginning to develop.
When I finally connected with my alcoholic wife it was apparent that she had no interest in going to the play, prescription pills, alcohol and cocaine were much more appealing to her. I was so furious that her dysfunctional friend threatened to call the cops if I didn’t leave her house right away. So, I went home and made one phone call to my friend Tom. To my surprise he said he could meet me at the theater ten minutes before the play was to begin. Tom had become the alternate plan. The method I learned from attending support group meetings worked and Tom and I had a wonderful evening.
The Way To Avoid Having Resentments Toward The Alcoholic
Prior to attending support group meetings, I had no idea that every time the alcoholic would ditch me another resentment was being deposited. After years of this sort of thing happening, the anger would surface very quickly when she would break the plans we had made. My life had become filled with a mountain of resentments. I had never been educated about the destruction they cause in relationships or how to avoid them. When I was told that expectations lead to resentments it all made since. I had been expecting my alcoholic wife to actually be responsible every time we had plans to do something together even though the pattern through the years proved that she could not be depended upon.
In AA there is a saying found on page 449 of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book. It says; “acceptance is the answer to all of my problems.” This is another sure fire way of avoiding having a resentment. I must accept situations as being exactly how they are supposed to be in the moment. Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Somehow I must learn to live life on life’s terms.
How To Remove Resentments
Apart from acceptance, the only other way to remove resentment is through letting go of the hurt and making a conscious effort to forgive. This can sometimes take years to do. Getting rid of deeply rooted hurts and disappointments caused by alcoholics are not always an easy end to achieve.
Once we truly learn what the personality of the addict is like, it becomes easier to forgive, forget and even manage our serenity better than we use to. Rather than expecting the alcoholic to act normal, we actually learn to expect them to act in line with the personality attributes found in most addicts.