To Amend or Not to Amend, That is the Question

Quick Monday Meeting Recap:

Of course I am biased, but today was a spectacular meeting!  We had 11 people, which is a fine number of attendees:  everyone gets to share, but no one feels pressured to speak.  We had a perfect blend of sobriety (again, I am biased!)… one person had 12 days, one person had 25 years, and lots of time in between.  I like having the mix because it provides such a broad spectrum in terms of perspective.

Today was a Step 8 meeting (made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all).  If you are unfamiliar with the 12 steps of recovery and are interested in a little more background with regard to Step 8, I wrote a post about it earlier this year, check it out!

In my experience, the main topic of conversation at a Step 8 meeting is how detailed one needs to be in terms of making the list of people one has harmed.  Do you need to make amends to the playground buddy you pushed off the swing when you were six years old?

The sub-topic is just how detailed one needs to be while actually making an amends with respect to past misdeeds.  Usually a lively discussion follows, because there are people who will take the amends process to great lengths, while there are others who believe strongly that the intent of steps 8 and 9 (step 9 is actually making the amends) is to clean up your side of the street, but not at the expense of another’s peace of mind.

And then there are the murkier ethical dilemmas, such as:  what if your mistake has legal implications, but many years have gone by?  Do you risk legal consequences in order clear your conscience?  There are diverse opinions on all of these subjects, which is why step 8 is a fascinating topic to explore.

At less than two years of sobriety, all I know for sure is that I have a lot to learn about sobriety, so I don’t feel like I need to rush the amends process.  A friend of mine who happened to attend today’s meeting, a woman with nine years of sobriety, says the longer she stays sober the more she understands all the amends she needs to make.  That makes sense to me, and so I have faith that when the time is right, I will know it, and I will have the serenity, courage and wisdom with which to make amends.

As always, I welcome feedback from my friends in recovery… what are your thoughts on the amends process?

Today’s Miracle:

I have stayed true to the individuals to whom I’ve made amends in the last 18 months, and I have not had to add to my list since becoming sober!


Posted on August 19, 2013, in Monday Meeting Miracles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I could probably go on a little too much about the amends process, but for this alkie cat, I found that I have yet (being the operative word) to be thrown out of an office or told to F off or anything like that. The ameds I have made so far (i am missing a few) have been great growth moments for me, and I still can’t believe it sometimes that I have done them. That means I have come down a notch or two on the willingness scale, which to me is what Step 8 truly is about, outside the list. When I balk on an amend, I am really balking on Step 8, which means 6 & 7 are an issue, which means that I jump to Step 3, where I have to ask – who’s in charge here? Where do I get the power to move past my procrastination and fear? It’s not self-propelled…I need the faith and connection and the willingness, above all. Anyway, I am also aware that some amends need not be made directly. No further harm is to come at the sake of me feeling better about myself.

    Like you said, I need the wisdom, serenity and courage to finish my amends off. Some guys are hardcore about them and do them all in an afternoon or something mad like that. For me, while I had a good run, it’s been about 8 months since I made a proper amend, and I should have had them done. Oops – I should’d myself there…lol.

    Anyway, glad to hear your meeting went so well…as usual.



  2. I am one of your bloggy friends and one of your behind the scenes supporters. I just wanted to say that it has been such a joy to follow you for I think about a year now. I hear such a different voice through your writing. I hear the pride, joy and confidence. Thanks for following me first so I could follow now and support you through your amazing journey. ~Thea


    • Thea, that is such a nice thing to say, and your words have really touched me this morning! We are going to an amusement park all day today, so I am saving your back to school post (which I have been gleefully waiting for all summer, I KNEW you’d write one!) for when I get back from that!

      Does Canada have the Staples’ commercial “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” with the parents dancing up and down the aisles? If not, you must YouTube it, and those parents are me!

      Thanks again for such a nice sentiment, I will carry your compliment with me through all the roller coasters of the day (in this case literal, not metaphorical, roller coasters :))


  3. Great post! My sponsor told me to use my list from step 4, that cut out me agonizing over who should be on the list. Then choosing who to actually do amends to was a bit tricky, there were few people i just wasn’t ready to face, let alone do amneds with. But, just like with almost anything that is difficult, once I made the amend I felt better, I felt like that was no longer hangin over me and the air was cleared between me and the other person. This is a great opportunity for grownth and for finding peace where we used to carry all that shame. Good stuff! Thanks! -Maggie


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