M(3), 8/31/15: Searching for the Willingness
For the record, I am sitting and typing this blog with the quiet hum of an air conditioner as my only background noise. I actually forgot the air conditioner made a noise, since it’s been drowned out by endless re-runs of Malcolm in the Middle and various Xbox games. Oh and the occasional sibling argument! Back to school = Golden Silence.
Today’s meeting centered around Step 8 in the 12 steps of recovery:
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
I had a few people groan aloud when they realized we would be reading and discussing step 8… August, the eighth month in the year, is a popular time to discuss this step, and it is the last day of the month. Therefore, regular meeting attendees have had their fill of this topic.
Note to self: it might be time to switch up my literature rotation.
Despite the moans and groans, the meeting was an interesting one, in that the conversational focus was on a different part of the step than usual. Typically a Step 8 meeting focuses on the question, “Who exactly should make the list?” This conversation then winds around to what exactly do we mean we say “Harm?” And then, inevitably, the shares will turn into stories of the following step, which is the actual making of amends.
Today, however, the focus was on the second part of the step, the part where we actually become willing to make the amends. Because you can know you’ve harmed a person, but you can also not want to right that wrong for a whole bunch of reasons. Some people think, “why bother? that person is out of my life?” Some are unwilling due to pride or ego: “No way am I making amends after all that person’s done to me!” The list of why not’s could go on for awhile.
But it’s important to realize, for those deciding to use the 12-step program to recover: you are not ready to tackle the often challenging step 9 of making amends until you have finished the entire of step 8.
And how best to become willing? Pray for the willingness, meditate, whatever you do to calm and center yourself, do so specifically around this issue.
A second theme of today’s discussion: why it’s important to do such a thing in the first place. Who the heck wants to sit around and think about all the people you’ve ever hurt in your life? Knowing all the while that the list is then going to turn into an even worse job… going around and making amends to these people?
The why is simple: to untangle the relationships that you’ve complicated with your addiction. Even in the case of the person not realizing it, the point is if they’re making your list then you realize it. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule of making amends, and those exceptions are covered in the following step, but overall the reason to create a list is to clean up your side of the street. It has more to do with you than it does with the person harmed.
The last point of discussion was another interesting one: there is something to do while you’re waiting to become willing to make amends. And it’s a simple one, and in most cases goes a long way towards the amends process:
Stop doing the behavior
If your habit was to drink too much and then… fill in the blank: stay out too late, drunk dial/text, pick fights, become a crying drunk, fail to tuck in your kids, ad infinitum. Stop doing it! Come home on time, call and text positively, be there for your friends and family, spend extra time with your kids.
By the time you are actually ready to tackle the amends process with the list you’ve made, I would bet the vast majority will say that your amends will be to keep doing what you’ve been doing since you got sober.
There will be more to discuss on the topic of amends in a couple of weeks when we read step 9. Until then, any 12-step readers with insights to share on step 8, I’d love to hear it!
I am proud to say that I’ve written an article for the website addiction.com. Check it out if you are interested in a little more of my backstory than I usually write about here!
Posted on August 31, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, 12 steps, AA, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Amends, fellowship, Higher Power, Meeting, Monday, Recovery, Sobriety, Step 8, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.