“Made a list of all people we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all”
This is Step 8
….in AA ‘s original 12 Step program of recovery. THIS IS TOUGH.
For anyone who has not been taken through the wringer by addiction, this list is never gonna happen. No one is going to do this if their life doesn’t depend upon it. Am I right?
Well, that hypothetical now for me, for my life did depend upon it and I did it and I’m really glad I did.
This article is not about my step work, or how I became wonderful.
It’s to realise that you are a beautifully flawed human being and to love and nurture ourselves for our imperfections and despite our errors.
Its purpose is to discuss the stuff we would rather bury than face. How can this be good? And how most people would be better off doing a 12 step recovery like process every now and then.
My partner and I are both in 12 Step Recovery. It is not all that we do, and it certainly doesn’t define us, but it’s something we do.
Furthermore, if we never went through the 12 Steps program at least once, there is a fair chance (99%) that we would not have met and be not alive. (good English, huh?)
Enough about me
Can you imagine sitting down in your study or kitchen table on a fine sunny Saturday morning and writing out all the people you had harmed up until that point of your life?
Start at kindergarten and through every class you were in – High School can be injurious for most – the dating game – going to work or Uni.
Already you are starting to realise what a SHIT you have been to other people and we haven’t started marriage and child raising.
By now you may be getting an idea of why this is important. It’s like a business stocktake which they need to do each year to see what is working and what is old stuff.
- The process of stopping the busy-ness of life for an hour or two and looking back to see what needs to be thrown out and what else needs repair is cathartic, to say the least, and spiritually uplifting in its true nature. Do this and you will be free’d.
- You will need a pen and paper or a Google Doc. No use remembering all this crap just to forget it again before you have finished the exercise.
- Be slow and thorough without being anal. You can do this again next year and it’s surprising what you missed the first time around.
- Do not judge yourself too hard. You were doing the best you could at the time. (really, was I that ignorant?)
- Try not to be fault finding in others. There are always two sides to every instance but we are just focusing on what we did to others.
- Pray for memory. God, Buddha and the Man in The Moon can all be helpful in helping you be honest (there is no one else watching, okay?)
- Become willing – you are not going to do anything with this list today. We are just spending some time alone with our Greater Power and a pen. There is nothing to see here. But try to feel the love. However, you felt when you hurt these people (and animals?) you are now willing to own up to your error of behaviour and make amends.
- Sleep on it. Happy dreaming….hahahahahahahaha. Oh damn. You are probably mixed now between feelings of disgust, regret, relief, and sorrow. That’s okay. Feelings never killed you before.
Tomorrow you can burn the list and bury the ashes.
Today, you have done well.
This essay was not to change your life and make you a saint. Hopefully, if you do this, you will go on and make some considerable advancement in all your relationships with others.
More importantly, you will have a better relationship with yourself. You are older now and have made progress towards being a loving, forgiving, feeling human being. Emotional Intelligence is a beautiful thang.
If you like the feel of this article and are thinking you would like to give sobriety a go, try my FREE 5 part course, “Stop Drinking – Start Living”. and look for our podcast Happy Sober & Frickin Awesome in your fave podcast thingy.