Dear Mr. SponsorPants,
Is there a difference between Resentment and Anger?
All horses are animals, but not all animals are horses, right?
All of my resentments have anger in them, but not all of my anger is what I have come to think of as a resentment.
For me, anger (that "dubious luxury of normal men") is a simple, clean emotion. And, like all of my emotions, it can be healthy and even appropriate depending on what's going on -- it's the actions I take (or don't take) based on my emotions which define my recovery and my character.
Resentment, however, is a much more mental exercise. For me yes, it is born of emotion -- usually my anger, maybe occasionally my fear -- but it's a head thing, not a heart or gut thing. All of that thinking, that toxic stewing... I believe it's sourced by self obsession and fear. It's dwelling on the anger -- reimagining the circumstances which led to it, fantasizing about making speeches or taking revenge, mentally assuming the role of victim or the mantle of martyr -- now we've got a resentment.
Thus, I think of it like this:
Anger + [Fear x Self Obsession] = Resentment.
Is it important to parse that out? To distinguish between the two? For me it can be, since (especially when I was new) I was prone to sorting my emotions into categories: "Good" feelings and "Bad" feelings -- and the bad feelings were things I "wasn't supposed to" have... which led to self judgement... which fueled more self obsession and... dear God, it's busy in there sometimes, yes?
So it was a healthy development to give myself permission to feel angry, rather than bury it under layers of evaluation and mental masturbation about how I felt.
And this also seemed to help me let the anger pass through me; to release it (a little) more easily.
When I was drinking, and well into sobriety, the anger-to-resentment process took all of a nanosecond. The two were virtually indistinguishable. For me that's why writing is such an important tool in recovery, because it slows my thoughts down to the speed of a pen travelling across a page. (Temporarily, anyway). And whether it's resentment, anger, or some sick, twisted blending of fear, self obsession and rage, I am still best served by writing an inventory and looking for my part in the equation.
Hope that helps.