The step of making amends can stop us dead in our recovery tracks. It’s a difficult and risky thing to admit the harm we have done to those we have wronged. In some situations, there’s also the fact that those to whom we are making amends have often in turn harmed us. The harming may have even started with them. Why then would I voluntarily choose to undertake this seemingly disagreeable task?
In the first place, according to the AA Big Book, amends must be made: wrongs have been done that need to be righted AND the experience of recovered addicts is that this work is vital to gaining and sustaining sobriety. These two reasons go together. Guilt and remorse for actual wrongs done lead to the “restless, irritable, and discontented” state that causes me, the addict, to desire the ease and comfort of my drug. So, it is imperative to confess and right those wrongs. In other words, there’s a self-less motivation to it and a self-interested motivation: I want to right my wrongs, and I want the joyous freedom of recovery (not mere sobriety).
For me, the courage to make amends comes from multiple sources, one of which is simply the growing strength and confidence that comes with sobriety. I’m a healthier person, so it is easier to act in healthier ways, and courage is healthy.
Another source is working the steps preceding eight and nine. Having admitted my powerlessness and unmanageability in step one, I turn to the God who can and will restore my sanity and supply the power I lack. In meetings, and very often in private, I’m asking God for serenity for those things I can’t change, and courage to change the things I can. I am constantly asking God for courage in my prayers.
And again, for me personally, in step four, I discovered that I had “lived” life governed by fear. I’m a work in progress on this front, but I don’t want anything more to do with fear, and so I see amends made to those people I’m afraid of as an opportunity to give the raspberry to my fearful addict.
I’m also emboldened by God’s love for me. There are those I have or will make amends to who will despise me. God will not. God lifts the humble from the dust of their brokenness. He does not crush them down into it. He does not “I told you so”. That gives me a great deal of confidence in admitting my brokenness or failings to others. In every situation, we are emboldened when we have even one person taking our side. God is on my side. That is enough.
As a practical note, not everyone on my amends list is a safe person and they don’t all need to know that I’m an sex addict, or any kind of addict for that matter. For some I can simply confess the harm I’ve done them (“I was fearful and resented you and avoided serving you…”). Knowing that I’m not required to share every detail of my life with everyone I’ve harmed takes some of the fear out. Some recommend starting the amends process with the easy ones. That gets some people over the hump, and when they experience the benefits of making amends, they become more willing to do the scarier ones. On the other hand, some suggest diving right in with the difficult ones. Like a band-aid: Right Off!
That’s the why and how of my experience, strength, and hope with the step 8 & 9 amends. I’m grateful for the work God has done in my recovery through them.
-AnonymousLong to be happy and free? Click to find a meeting!