M(3), 5/16/16: Better Late Than Never!
Oh boy, this will, of necessity, be short and sweet. Time (and fundraising snafus) have gotten away from me today, and a track meet is an hour from now!
Today we read Step 8 from the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Step 8, for those unfamiliar with the 12 steps of recovery, reads:
Made a list of all the people we harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step eight can be challenging to discuss in and of itself; it is tempting to mention it as a passing reference to a more substantial discussion of the meatier step 9 (the actual making of amends).
For my part, I shared how creating my eighth step list was much easier than I anticipated, because much of the work had been done in my fourth step moral inventory. I also shared that considering the harms I had done to others gave me a deeper gratitude for the relationships I held dear. In that deeper gratitude came an easier time accepting the character defects in others, since I could so clearly see how they had been accepting of mine.
We had an interesting mix of people in today’s meeting. The first group that shared had a significant chunk of sober time. The kind of time that can be measured in decades, as a matter of fact! From that group I heard a lot of wisdom that I honestly cannot hear enough:
- Step 8 has 2 distinct parts to it: the first is making the list, the second is finding the willingness
- Step 8 is truly a lifelong process, and there is no need to add stress by imposing deadlines
- It takes time to discover that for which you need to make amends
- The heart and soul of step 8 is forgiveness: forgiveness of self, forgiveness of others, and God willing, others’ forgiveness of you
- The longer one stays sober, the more clarity one gains in the amends process
- If the amends process is overwhelming, start simply, and stop doing that for which you need to make amends. If you’re sober, chances are you’ve already made a step in the amends process with many people in your life
The next group to share was the group with a relatively small amount of sober time (2 months, 3 months, 10 months). Their take on step 8 was just as fascinating, because they’re reading it and wondering at how such a thing works:
- Do you list someone if you can’t get in touch with them?
- What do you do if you made amends for something but you were not in recovery… do you do it over again?
- How can you even think about these kinds of things when your brain still feels likes it not clear?
Of course, the great thing about having a meeting with a mix of people is to share wisdom, and the long-timers were able to give out advice that they had been given in earlier days.
One really interesting and new bit I was able to take away came from a question from a newcomer: what if you want to make amends to someone who has died? The standard advice I have heard in response to this question is to write the deceased a letter, visit the gravesite, or visit your place of worship.
But today the advice given was to find a living substitute. Let’s say, for example, that you were selfish with your time and thus missed out on the last years of your grandfather’s life because you were too busy drinking. Now you’re sober and you want to make amends to him, but he is not around. Find someone meaningful, either to you or someone who would have been meaningful to your grandfather, and give the gift of your time and attention to him or her.
I had never heard that particular piece of advice, but it struck me as a wonderful way to pay forward the blessings of sobriety.
As always, tons of good stuff. For all my fellow 12-step readers, please share any nuggets of step 8 wisdom in the comment section!
Having to wrap this up to watch my son run track is a miracle on every level… he is doing what he loves, and I get to witness it!
Posted on May 17, 2016, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 steps, AA, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, fellowship, Making amends, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, Recovery, Sobriety, Step 8, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.