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Writing Away Resentments

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I imagine many members of OA have issues with their parents. Here is how I solved my problem with my mother. My mom and I never got along because she was so controlling and at times was abusive during my childhood. I felt completely controlled by her and also misunderstood and, frankly, unrecognized for who I was. I started eating food for comfort at a very young age.

I worked a Fourth and Fifth Step about my mother with my sponsor. I soon realized how resentful I had become about her and how her treatment had affected me. I had been reenacting all of my family struggles in every aspect of my life, including my jobs and social groups. I’d made unhealthy life decisions based on perceiving bossy people in the same way as I did my mother. I carried these resentments for fifty years. I was angry and rebellious, and my life was unmanageable.

As I worked the Fourth Step, the most important question was, “What was my part?” My part was not the abuse. I was not a bad child; I didn’t deserve to be ridiculed, bossed around, and misunderstood. I was a worthy child and God loved me. My part was continuing to act the poor victim and expecting everyone to make it up to me. This went on for decades. My part was expecting my mom to change, to be the kind of mom I needed: kind, complimenting, encouraging, never critical, affectionate— just showing me pure love and filling me up when I needed it. And, I could only see that these things had to come from her. Letting anyone else give this to me wasn’t enough. My mother needed to change.

Well, my wise sponsor said, “We know she is not going to change. How do you think she got this way?”

She was from an abusive, cold home. She was crazy smart and a housewife. She raised three kids that she perhaps had no business raising, and she should have had a career. She was a child from an alcoholic family who didn’t know how to love her children like they needed because she never received that love herself. Her cultural belief was that compliments only spoiled your children. Her cultural and generational belief was that a clean house and well-dressed children were the hallmark of a good family. They didn’t value listening to and understanding children or their deep important needs.

My wise sponsor invited me to write about her good qualities, so I did. I wrote all the wonderful things she gave me: safety and security; exposure to the arts, the world, and nature; and encouragement to rise above prejudices and have friends from other cultures. She protected me from alcoholic relatives. She emphasized education and going to college and de-emphasized beauty and sexual attractiveness.

Writing about the things that I expected from her and then writing the truth about what she was capable of giving me—and what she did give me—enabled me to let go of all of the resentments I had carried around. I had also been in therapy for years and had done a lot of work on my anger and resentments. Now, I was completely ready to have them removed.

Due to my spiritual beliefs, I have also known that I was meant to be in this family, that they were part of my path, and I had to accept it. I felt relief not just from asking God to remove the character defects of my victimhood but also from digging deeply into how overboard my expectations were for the parent that I got.

Another thing that helped was to write about my own positive characteristics and how being born to this mother shaped me into who I am—in other words, the positive things that came out of this early childhood wounding. Now, I know that I would never have the skills and traits that I treasure in myself without having my mom as my mother.

— Ali

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