M(3), 8/18: Crazy 8’s
Is it Monday again already? Recap for the format of my Monday meeting: it is the third Monday of the month, so this week’s reading literature in the rotating literature format came from the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Since it is August, the 8th month of the year, we read Step 8:
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
The chapter in this book does a fantastic job of dispelling any of the preconceived notions we alcoholics have regarding making amends. Some of the topics covered include:
- forgiving people for the harms done to you
- dealing with the embarrassment of facing up to people you have harmed
- combating the argument “what someone doesn’t know won’t hurt them”
- getting over the notion that as alcoholics the only people we hurt is ourselves
- defining the word “harm”
- the importance of the step in terms of personal growth (in other words, the motivation for getting the gumption up to actually do it)
In other words, a short chapter that covers a lot of territory!
For me, this chapter (and the upcoming month’s selection from this book, which talks about actually doing the amends) hits a nerve on two fronts. First, it reminds me of how lax I have been on even looking at the step 8 list I created, and, more importantly, checking names off that list by actually doing the amends. When I shared with the group this morning, I was quick to tell on myself, and gave some details on why I believe I am hung up on getting this job done (it could possibly be a separate post, but for simplicity’s sake let’s call it the deadly combination of fear and pride at work).
The second reason this hits a nerve, and will most definitely be an upcoming post, is a commitment I made, to be completed by summer’s end: I am going to sit down with each of my children and “the talk” with them. I joked this morning that “the talk” for the rest of the world, and “the talk” for alcoholics are different animals! My husband and I decided a while ago that this transition summer for both kids (one heading into high school, the other into middle school) is the perfect opportunity to give them this important information.
Perfect for them, maybe, not so much for their mother. It’s August 18th and I’m desperately searching for a reason to put this off. Which (sigh), I won’t, although I’m sure I’ll wait until the Last. Possible. Second. I’m thinking maybe as I’m driving them to the bus stop? I’m kidding (I think). Either way, I believe I will be in need of some writing therapy as soon as I finish, so you will know as soon as I’ve finished.
So those are the things that came to my mind as I read the chapter. The following shares that took place were so amazing, they had my head spinning with how much what is going on with other people, and the lessons they’ve learned, is able to help me. Again, it might be easier to bullet point:
- The first person to share this morning talked about how much he dislikes these two steps (8, making the list, and 9, making the amends, for non 12-step readers these two steps are generally discussed hand in hand). His professional life is a religious one, so when he considered making this list, he was instantly overwhelmed: so many people he has impacted, how to possibly sit down with them all? His sponsor gently but firmly advised: how about you start with just stopping the behavior for which you need to make amends?
Easy enough, right? But here’s the trick: you have to know what the wrong behavior is in order to stop it, and that’s where the real work in step 8 lies. He actually rocked my world a bit when he talked about this subject. I wrote my step 8 list based upon my step 4 inventory, which is certainly a common way to do it, but I’m thinking perhaps I could go a bit deeper, and look at my behaviors a little more closely. Up to this point I have thought about amends in more superficial ways: did I do someone wrong in a fairly obvious way? But in this light I need to look beyond the obvious: if I lied to someone, why did I lie? What was the underlying reason for the misbehavior? Deep stuff, that’s for sure.
- The next several people who shared talked about failing to make amends in their first go-round in recovery, then ultimately making the decision to drink again. In each of these cases they are quick to say that other factors led up to the relapse, but they now realize the importance of feeling as if they have done each step to the best of their ability. Some of the stories shared were sobering (pun intended) wake-calls: stay the course, this is a process from which there is no graduation.
- Some shared confusion on if and how to make amends in special circumstances, such as a person passing or not having current information on a person’s whereabouts. This kind of sharing is rewarding for everyone, it gives each of us a chance to give and receive wisdom.
- Finally, and most importantly to me personally, a friend shared the experience, strength and hope she has gained in her 23 years in our fellowship. Her words, while having nothing whatsoever to do with me personally, spoke to me so directly, it was as if she was mind-reading. She actually even gave an example at one point of the futility of beating herself for losing something, an activity I have repeated quite a bit over the past 5 days! Here’s what she said that made a light bulb go off in my head: “the most important work I neglected in my earlier years of sobriety was forgiveness; not of others as they talk about in this chapter, but of myself. Until I could forgive myself, I was incapable of making a sincere amends to anyone.”
Right between the eyes, that one got me.
Then: “If I struggle with making an amends, beating myself up over it is making a bad situation worse. My job is to become willing to make the amends. If I am not willing, then my job is to ask God for the willingness. When he gives me the willingness, I will do it, and it’s as simple as that.”
She said those words, and I had to look down to hide the tears in my eyes. A true God moment there, that’s for sure, and a clear-cut set of directions for me.
There was loads more great stuff shared, but I think I hit the high notes. Hope everyone is having as excellent a Monday as I!
This one was inspired by MamaMickTerry. I wrote last week of my despair in losing my wedding ring. As I have been lost without something on that finger, I searched through my jewelry and found a ring one of the kids gave me for Christmas, which they purchased at their holiday school store. Its financial worth is negligible, but the reminder that it’s not the material goods, but that may family is happy and whole… well that’s priceless. Here it is:
Posted on August 18, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, AA, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Big Book, fellowship, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, Recovery, self-development, Sobriety, Step 8, Substance Abuse, Support group, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.