My dictionary defines petulant as: "irritable, impatient, or sullen."
I have been all of these - irritable when my wants and needs were not being met, when another person was not responding favourably to my attempts to control them, when life has not been unfolding according to my expectations.
I've been impatient as I've waited for an outcome I wished to occur, for myself to fully grasp a new idea, (or put an old one into regular circulation instead of shoving it into storage and forgetting about it,) for the alcoholics in my life to gain understanding or display willingness.
I've been sullen when I haven't received that to which I think I am entitled or deserve, when boundaries laid down clearly by me are stomped upon and trampled by an alcoholic, when I believe that I am in the right, someone else is in the wrong, and no matter how much I ranted or hounded, I couldn't force them to agree with my interpretations.
My petulance has brought me nothing I want or need. Instead, it has sentenced me to many anxious hours of obsession, ridiculous imagined conversations with someone who is happily engaged elsewhere while I stew and fret, and a boiling dissatisfaction with my own life.
At one time, before Al-Anon, ( and many times afterwards, this has been a slow process) I enjoyed feeling wronged, irritable and sullen. That attitude fed my self-pity, and justified my own bad behavior and negative attitudes. Just look at what I had to endure! No reasonable person would ____!
But I wasn't a reasonable person, that is the thing. I was a sullen and irritable snarled-up ball of rage and resentment. I spent so much time focusing upon what was going on around me that I had no chance to grow and mature. I was so intent upon changing other people, there was no time left to consider where I might be falling short.
To achieve forward movement in my recovery, to get that momentum in my program, I must focus upon the one person over whom I have some control - me. As long as I am engaged in a sullen enumeration of another's faults, I have lost my focus. When I am "rritable and unreasonable" I am robbing myself and my life of happiness and satisfaction.
When I catch myself engaged in old thinking, I can stop, take a moment, then ask my HP to remove this character defect of petulance, and grant me peace, instead. When I hear what I call the "opening bars" - thoughts about what someone else should not be doing, thinking or saying, I know that I am looking outward, taking someone else's inventory - I can turn instead to the areas of myself that are still in need of further investigation, and a good housecleaning. I pray for patience, tolerance, and peace.