Resentment and regret are exceptionally powerful emotions that can heavily obstruct your path towards recovery and long-term sobriety. Whether through jealousy or shame, regretting and hating something from your past or someone around you while you’re trying to fight an addiction will only hinder your progress. Sadly, they can also be rather common.
One of the hallmarks of early recovery is emotional vulnerability, marked by high highs and low lows. There is a marked period of general emotional turmoil shortly after quitting a drug or addictive behavior, where you’re sensitive to every situation and its capacity to make you feel bad – even when there was absolutely zero ill intent towards you in any way.
How Resentment Can Develop
Say, for example, that things feel particularly rough at work. You take your boss’ tone of voice and gruffness and take it to mean that they’ve got it out for you, because you’re in recovery and they’re probably secretly judging you. You begin to feel mad at the thought of what they might think of you, creating this image of your boss feeling prejudiced against you.
But in reality, all that is a fabrication in your mind based on a few seconds of interaction. Or, after going out with a few friends to play some sports, you feel like your friends are trying to one-up you – what might’ve been a great way to bond now feels like a threatening competition, and every mistake you make feels like you’re being watched and silently made fun of.
Early drug recovery can make you feel extremely self-conscious, and by extension, hyper-aware of every slightest shortcoming. What might be nothing will become a misunderstanding, and that can breed resentment and bottled up, hidden anger. You’ll become angry, irritable and even visibly upset over essentially nothing. And when it all comes out without anyone to understand why you feel so angry, you’ll feel patronized, or perhaps you’ll feel like you’re not taken seriously enough.
Fighting Resentment Within
For most people, the root of resentment in recovery is a sense of shame and deeper self-loathing. You feel like people are blatantly judging you, when they aren’t, because you feel like you probably deserve to be judged. It might be the frustration with how slow your recovery is going, or you might just have trouble coping with all the stress, relationships and emotional issues you previously masked with your addiction.
Addiction is also known as a maladaptive coping mechanism – that means it’s often used to deal with problems on a short-term, emotional level, but not on a more intellectual long-term level. Addictive habits can offer a powerful feeling of escapism – one you must, ironically, escape. Addiction can trap you in a horrible cycle of continuously worsening conditions, emotional damage, and long-term self-destruction.
Breaking out of that and realizing that things are worse off than they originally were can still make it tempting to just retreat into that shell of addiction – and that feeling alone can feel shameful, and further deepen the potential for negative thoughts and eventual depression in recovering addicts.
In short – feeling bad about yourself means you’re far more likely to feel bad about others, and feel bad in general. Everything will be negative, dark, and brooding – and life without drugs can, especially early on, be a massive emotional challenge. Overcoming that feeling of resentment towards others means first developing an antidote to the feeling of self-loathing and judgment. And that most definitely isn’t something you get done overnight.
Overcoming Your Own Resentment
It’s not exactly wrong to say that, for far too many, life is full of regrets. People regret making mistakes that severely changed their life – from choosing the wrong career to marrying the wrong person or getting in with the wrong crowd. The first step to actively fighting against the feeling of resentment and hatred towards others from drug recovery is to accept that your regret is absolutely and completely useless.
There is no such thing as a time machine. There is also no use in daydreaming about the past, when that will not change the present or the future. All you can do is look ahead, and look at the here and now. All you can do is change your circumstances in this very second – or you can choose to waste time looking back at what’s set in stone.
Your addiction cannot be erased. It can be fought, overcome, replaced by sobriety. But you cannot remove those memories or undo the time you’ve spent destroying parts of your life with your addiction.
You can choose to rebuild your relationships. You can choose to live a healthier life, and gain a stronger body. You can choose to delve deeply into a hobby or career, find a new passion, meet new friends and catch up with old ones. You can ask for forgiveness and forgive others. You can experience countless new moments of joy and love, and rediscover what it means to actually enjoy life without the use of drugs.
You can overcome resentment, and totally overcome your resentment of yourself – if you first decide to give up wasting your time with regret. Instead, get to work.
Working on Yourself
When you’re happy and content with where you are in life, then you’re much less likely to think negatively. Instead, you can think positively – and honestly. Getting there through recovery means preoccupying yourself, to begin with. Get to work with work, or school. Find something you enjoy doing, and do it often. Set weekly challenges for yourself. Make small goals, and meet them. It sounds cheesy and is recommended over and over again, but that’s because it simply works – if you want to be successful at undoing the damage your addiction made, you have to live life to its fullest.
Start off by following a strict schedule, planning your days to be filled with interesting things to do, both new and old. In time, your new routine will begin to change the way you think – it’ll help you gain some much needed perspective and step away from the early days of your recovery and realize that you’ve overcome those feelings of resentment and insecurity.