* We begin to understand the futility, fatality, and destructiveness of our resentments.

Again: begin to!

Anger is often very, very attractive to us as COSAs. And there are many people outside of COSA who will tell us that our anger protects us. That it is a healthy response to having our boundaries violated. That it is what motivates us to take action to protect ourselves.

This is both true, and not true.

It is true in that getting angry about things that we once denied or shamed ourselves for is a healthy part of recovery. I LOVED my first fourth step inventory, because it was the first time I had given myself permission to be angry about what people had done to me. And letting myself express my anger, in my written inventory, also let me explore ways that they had harmed me that I had told myself were okay at the time. For many of us, that stage of recognizing and honoring our anger is crucial to a full recovery. 

The flip side of this, however, is that we also have to be able to move on from our anger. In order for anger to motivate us to take healthy action, paradoxically, we have to leave it behind. We have probably all had experiences where we got angry about a real or perceived violation, and took action in our resentment by screaming at someone, throwing things, hitting them, or otherwise extracting revenge… only to look back later and wish that we had made a cleaner break.  

As we finish writing out our resentments and move on to looking at our own side of the street, we discover our power. We discover what an enormous amount of power we have in our lives, and how often we have been unable to see it and have suffered as a result. We see breakable patterns. We see “woulda coulda shouldas” that now we “can and will”.

That’s part of what this promise means. That we’ve often relied on anger to accomplish our goals, and that often this hasn’t gotten us what we needed – hence “futility”. That when we look at the actions we’ve taken in anger, we often see that they’ve been “destructive”. That going back and reliving our harms and our anger around those harms is detrimental to our serenity and our emotional well-being. (Resentment, etmologically, means re-experiencing, re-feeling these things.)

And that when we look at the ultimate result of the near-constant obsession and re-traumatizing ourselves that we often do, as COSAs, we see that we are slowly killing our own spirits, as surely as any abuser is or has done: “fatality”.

This can also be a very literal “fatality”. My favorite COSA story comes from a friend of mine who shared that she was once obsessing so deeply about something someone had done that pissed her off that she almost got into a multi-car accident on the freeway. Our resentments can distract us in ways that literally endanger our lives.