Step Eight
1996


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STEP EIGHT ~ PART ONE


I've been thinking about step 8 and why it comes after step 7.  After
reading the shares a lot of you wrote about what happened to you in step 7
I can see that we must be rid of our character defects before we can see
that we even hurt anybody.  Especially if one of our character
defects was justification.  How would we know if we really hurt someone?
Our ego would have been too busy telling us that we could do no wrong.

But we have let go of our character defects and are ready to take that
next step.

Step 8 is the whole purpose of all the steps.  In the AA 12 & 12, it says
that in steps 8 and 9 we begin to rebuild our relationships and repair the
wreckage of the past.  This is the very important purpose of *all* the
steps. to rebuild our relationships.  We as humans need other people in
our lives.  Our disease, maybe above all others, is about isolation.  So
often in the past, we shut people out of our lives because there is no
room for both them and our eating behaviors.

When we come to OA then and get abstinent for the first time, we begin to
look around us and see that we maybe have no friends left.  We have
excluded them from our lives, forced them away, making excuses why we
could not do things with them.  I found that when I tried to rebuild
my friendships one response that I got was, "I thought you hated me!"  I
didn't hate them, I just didn't think they would let me eat compulsively
around them.  What kind of friends would they be to allow me to kill
myself with food?

When an alcoholic gets sober, he needs to find sober people to
hang around with, because his drinking buddies (fair weather friends at
the best) were dragging him down.  I found that some of my relationships
had to change.  When I first got abstinent I could no longer hang with my
eating homeys.  I could no longer go out to lunch with the girls cuz they
all ordered deserts and I couldn't face just sitting there watching them
devour turtle sundaes.  The first day I said, no thanks, I won't be going
with you, they all looked at me like I had herpes, "Well, Ok, be that
way!" one said.

In looking for people to go on this list, I searched back over my life and
tried to discover the relationships that had sustained damage.  That's
all!  Laying blame was not in my mind, not yet.  It states in the OA 12 &
12, that "we will need to include the name of everyone we can remember
having harmed, even those who hurt us first."  So in searching for names,
I also put down the names of people I hated, because if I'm truly going to
rebuild my relationships I cannot leave out anyone, especially those whom
I hate for some reason.  Maybe the reason I hate them is because I
perceived that they had done something to hurt me.  But I was not laying
blame at *anyone's* doorstep, that is not what step 8 is about.

So I went through every relationship I had, I'm not talking passing
acquaintances, I'm talking real relationships, where I had the person's
phone number, in my phone book, if not memorized.  If I hadn't seen that
person in a while I asked myself, why not?  If I was unhappy with the
answer, that person went on the list.  In doing this as thoroughly as I
did, I ran across several names where I had left the relationship on good
terms but at the same time, I felt that the person involved had been such
a good friend that they deserved a phone call or letter anyway, telling
them that I appreciated their friendship and everything they had done for
me in the past.  Somewhere it says that where relationships are concerned,
we need to sweep our side of the street.

I called one fellow whom I had dated in college briefly.  We had been
friends since I was fifteen.  I told him that I was sorry I hadn't kept in
touch with him because I really did value his friendship and he said to
me, "It's Ok, Cindy, I didn't keep in touch with you either."

Just because he had not swept his side of the street however was no excuse
that I could neglect mine!

Now, as we take pen in hand and write out our lists, we are not just
asking ourselves have we harmed this person, but where are we in our
relationship with this person.  Pull out some tools.  It amazed me that
all the BB has to say about step 8 is the following statement, "We have a
list of all persons we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make
amends.  We made it when we took inventory."  If this is indeed true for
you, now is the time to get out the old inventory and dust it off, like
Bob A. says.  Spend this week making your list.  Next week I'll be writing
on the topic of checking it twice!  (Get it, get it?  Making a list and
checking it twice?)

So remember, as your thinking about each person with whom you have had a
relationship ask yourself these questions:

1.  How did this relationship end?  Well?  Badly?  Not at all?

2.  How do I feel about how it ended?

Do not lay blame, just add names to a list, nothing more.

Next week we will sort out which people really belong on the list.  The OA
12 & 12 states that we will enlist the help of our sponsor for this task.
And in the meantime here is a topic on which we can share this week:

I have talked about one amends that I made to a college friend of mine.
The relationship did not end badly.  He did not feel hurt by my neglect of
him over the years, but my amends had to do with gratitude.  This amends
balanced out my step 8 and 9 the same way the positive and negative sides
of the balance sheet balanced out my inventory.

1.  Share with us your thoughts on why it is important to you to keep
balanced.

2.  How can you make your amends more balanced?

3.  In preparing to become ready to make amends, what are your real honest
feelings right now going into the making of your list?

4.  Despite any negatives feelings why is it important to you to go ahead
with making your list?

Good luck everyone,  I'll be awaiting your responses with baited breath!

Lots of Love, Courage and Faith,
Cindy

STEP EIGHT ~ PART TWO



Hi Folks!

This is now the time to look at our step 8 lists that we have all written
out and decide who should be on it and who should not.

I've often heard, in regards to step 8, that this is where we sweep our
side of the street.  If we are truly painstaking about this process we
will look at each person on our list and remember back to before the
relationship ended.  What hurts were sustained in this relationship and by
whom, by you or by the other person?  If the answer was that both people
in the relationship were hurt then you do owe an amends to that person.

Yes, but, that person hurt me more than I hurt them!  We tend to say this
as an excuse to not to face this person again.  This shouldn't matter with
step 8.  It says in the BB on page 78, "His faults are not discussed.  We
stick to our own."

In going down through the list this might be a good time to also make
another list of people with whom we have resentments.  I keep my
resentment list in a little book of things that I pray about.  We have all
heard about the idea of praying for people we resent.  Don't you just love
this program?  The forefounders of AA were so wise, they have a neat
package for every contingency.  We pray for those who have hurt us, and we
make amends to those we have hurt!  So simple!  The hard part is knowing
which is which.  The OA 12 and 12 asks us to consult our sponsors with
help regarding these issues.  They can get very mixed up.

On a personal note, there was a little girl in school with me that hated
my guts.  She stomped on my foot, she pulled my hair, she made me the butt
of several practical jokes, and mean tricks.  For years I didn't know why
she hated me so much.  Again and again I asked my mom, "Why doesn't Wendy
like me?"

Several years ago when going through my fourth step, an abstinent fourth
step, so therefore one that was a very honest.  I had a memory about going
to vacation bible school.  I had made friend's with Wendy at bible school
and we were best friends!  We would hold hands and skip along, we shared
secrets and talked.  I didn't know this at the time but she had just moved
into the neighborhood.  After bible school, I never saw her again all
summer.  But then on the first day of school I realized she was here to
stay, she was in my class.  I don't know why I did it but I didn't want to
share my old friends with this new friend and I acted horribly toward her.
I was the one who had drawn first blood.  I was the one who had hurt her
first.  All because she didn't fit into my idea of status quo!  She is one
of the people I owe amends to.  After all these years, all the things she
did to me are no longer bothersome to me because I know that if I hadn't
hurt her, she would have been my friend for life!  I have forgiven her for
doing all those horrible things to me all those years, but I still have to
make amends to her for the horrible thing I did to her.

A word about self amends:  the fact that we are compulsive overeaters, or
have an eating disorder of any kind means automatically that we have hurt
ourselves physically.  Therefore our own name should be on the amends
list.  We might need to find out the ways that we have hurt ourselves,
emotionally as well as spiritually.  I know that in my own life I have had
to deal with the character defect of self-sabotage.  It is one that I had
to ask God to remove from me.

Just as manipulation was a tricky part of my disease, so was
self-sabotage.  I was such a good manipulator that half of the time I
didn't even know I was doing it.  I would express something to one of my
friends in the same way that my mother, the master manipulator, expressed
a guilt-ridden request to me.  I knew no other way to express myself in
those circumstances.  Several amends had to do with this.

Likewise, my self-sabotage gave me a hard time most of my life and I
didn't even know it was ME who was the enemy.  I did things that would
purposely harm my chances to get ahead or to do something I liked doing,
like for example, I would go out and spend every last cent I had and then
realize I needed to buy gas for the car or something just as important
that I really couldn't do without.  I might start a "diet" (in the old
days before OA) just after I'd bought a ton of junk food.  Or I'd go out
drinking the night before a final exam.

The disease causes me to think in a way which is unhealthy for my body.
The more unhealthy my body gets, the worse my thinking gets, and then the
worse I feel about myself.  This downward cycle that so many of us have
experienced is also part of the self-sabotage.  Again, as I say, I had to
break out of this entire cycle and ask for God's help to rid myself of
this.

So in essence, taking the steps to the best of my ability is what I am
doing to make amends to myself.  Giving myself the respect that I deserve,
loving myself, pampering myself, keeping myself clean and groomed
especially when I go out in public.  I make amends to myself by getting
help for all the problems in my life that I can't seem to handle myself,
that includes other self-help groups, therapy, religious advice, or any
other problems or concerns I have.  By not allowing people to stay in my
life who are bad for me, no matter how much I "love" them.  I make amends
to myself by behaving toward myself the way I would want others to treat
me!

Many of us, in the depths of our disease, wouldn't treat ourselves very
good but also had people in our lives that treated us very badly.  This is
the golden rule:  Do unto others as you would have others do unto you!

The golden rule is not a law by which we SHOULD live, rather it is a law
of nature, like gravity, by which we DO live.  Many of us don't like
ourselves, we treat ourselves very badly indeed, therefore in our diseased
thinking we reason that it's OK on some level to be horrible to others
because we don't treat them any worse than we are treating ourselves.
It simply stands to follow that as we grow in the steps, we become better
people and we end up by liking ourselves better.  As we gain more self-
acceptance, we also gain more acceptance of others.  So in fact, when we
are treating ourselves horribly we can't treat others any other way.  When
we are treating ourselves well, we are treating others well also.

I have heard it stated in meetings and here on line, "I ask myself if I
would like the other person to do to me what I did to them.  Simply
stated this is the question we must ask ourselves as we go through the
list.

So now, we are ready to go down the list one by one.

Here are some journaling questions to ask yourself about each person.
If you would like to share the answers to these question about one or two
people on your list, it might help others to see HOW it works.


1.  How did the relationship with this person end?

2.  Was this relationship always bad or was it good at some point and then
turn bad?

3.  What happened to turn it bad?

4.  What part did I play in turning this relationship bad?

5.  Do I have resentments toward this person?  Do I need to forgive this
person?

6.  What can I do to rebuild this relationship so that the friendship
(substitute any positive relationship word) will come back into it?

There will, as it says in the BB, be times when the relationship will not
be able to go back to what it was.  There are also times when you won't
want to continue with the relationship as it was.  That's OK, life goes
on.  Therefore, maybe if you had another goal in mind you might know how
you want your amends to go.

For example, I needed to make amends to an ex-boyfriend and his wife for
trying to break them up before they were married.  I knew that the wife
wouldn't want to maintain a friendship with me and I could not, because of
unresolved feelings for my ex-boyfriend, hang around in a friendship with
him.  So I decided ahead of time that I was going to still make amends to
them but part of my amends would be to tell them that they would probably
never see me again.  But the point was that I had mended the fence, but I
was on one side and they on the other.  My goal was to be able to walk
down the street and not be afraid of seeing them.  I had left the
relationship on a positive note, but I had indeed left the relationship!

So, share some of your wonderful ESH on these questions:

1.  Talk about a person on your list as pertains to the six questions
above.  You need not reveal anything too painful to the loop but it might
help others to see how we have harmed our own relationships.

2.  Do you have anyone on your list that hurt you a lot but in fact it was
you who drew first blood?

3.  In what ways have you hurt yourself--physically, emotionally, or
spiritually?

4.  What can you do to make amends to yourself?

5.  How do you apply the golden rule to your life?

6.  What is your goal for mending your relationships?

There is no right or wrong answers to these, so please just share on any
or all of them that hit you.

Hope to hear from you soon,

Love and hugs,
Cindy

STEP EIGHT ~ PART THREE

******************************************************************************

                                 Step 8

     Made a List of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make
amends to them all.

*******************************************************************************


Shall we talk this week about financial amends now?  This is a touchy one.
By the strictest letter of step 8 do we really harm others by being in
debt to them?  When I think of my financial obligations, I see them mostly
in terms of huge, faceless institutions, Citibank Visa, Chase Manhattan
Mastercard, Ford Discover!  Who am I really harming by having these debts?

No one, as long as I pay them.  Maybe in fact, the only one I'm really
harming by paying these debts is myself because of the huge service
charges.  So it becomes a self amends to get these things paid off.

But to keep in mind the reason behind step 8 and really all the steps, is
to build back our relationships and to clear away the garbage of the past.

So we look at financial amends not just in terms of our credit cards but
other creditors, most of us know what happens to our phone or electricity
when we don't pay those bills, they get turned off.  But what if we needed
work done on our car, or borrowed money from a friend or parent, or if we
hired a contractor, or went to the doctor, or called the plumber, and
couldn't pay them.  What would happen?  Not only would they not do work
for us again, or loan us money but they would also do some damage to
our name around town.  Hard feelings would result and our relationship
with that person would indeed break down and suffer damage.  We would need
to make financial amends.

We might also have stolen money or merchandise from an individual or a
store.  In which case we might feel compelled to repay these people or
institutions.  While there is certainly nothing wrong with this, it does
clear our conscious, and in fact we can argue that by stealing from these
people and places we were in fact harming them.  Amends can be made
financial through donations to the organizations involved.  For example,
if as an employee we were involved with theft, say merchandise from a
store in which we worked, then a possible way to repay the theft would be
to donate money to a pet project or charity of the owners.

In college, I stole $20 out of my roommate's drawer in order to buy a
pizza.  When I came to make amends to this roommate, I tried hard to
find her but she had gotten married and moved.   I had conveniently
forgotten her married name.  But I knew she was the member of this one
church so I went there and put the twenty into the collection plate and
said a prayer for her.  I was a non-believer back then and she was always
trying to convert me.  So I'm sure she would have approved of what I did
to make amends to her.

It says in the 12 $ 12 that the amends we say is not for the other person,
but for us and for our continued sobriety (abstinence).  Therefore if it's
to our benefit that we pay the price, then we must do it.  I was recently
made aware of how good it feels to be debt free!  Of course almost at once
my husband and I were back into debt again but they are no longer the
weigh me down type of long term debts they are debts that can be paid off
within a year or six months.  Being rid of those dragging debts is like
becoming aware of cooler weather after a long hot summer!  I suddenly felt
calm and energetic.  It was well worth all the deprivation that my family
went through.  Now we live on a zero balance budget.  If we don't have the
money to go out, we stay home!  No biggy, we'll get more money come
Thursday and then we can go out.

Should we be afraid of prosecution?  What if we stole something big from
a store or employer?  How do we make amends for this when it is something
big that we might go to jail for?  I have heard of people writing a letter
to the store if it was something small that was shop lifted, even if it
happened years earlier, and explained that they had taken the item and
enclosed was a check or money order to cover the amount of the item taken.
If it was an employer and the money was embezzled a payment plan to return
the money is sometimes able to be worked out.  I have never heard of
someone being prosecuted for trying to honestly make financial amends.
Individuals concerned can see that you are sorry and are trying your best
to make things right, especially when you say that you're doing it because
you felt guilty about it and that you now know it was wrong to do.

There are many ways to make amends financially to people who have died,
such as a parent or friend, or to businesses and organizations that have
since gone out of business.  Donations to pet or similar organizations are
always a good way to do it.  I had a friend who died of bone cancer.  I
still make donations to the cancer institute in her memory.  Do I do it
because I feel guilty about her for some reason?  Yes, you bet!  I was 15
the year she lay dying in the children's hospital in Ann Arbor, MI.  I was
out playing baseball and having fun that summer, and I only went to see
her once.  I was too young, and had never known anyone that died before
that.  I didn't know how to act and so I just ignored her and the whole
problem.  Yep, I feel very guilty about that even still.  I know that she
has forgiven me!  I know that I probably have more than made amends for
that summer.  But you know, every year when I write that check on her
birthday, I feel very good about myself.

I've heard of kids repaying their parents for raising them by buying them
a car or taking them out for lunch.  I have friend whose son is an
electrician, he wired his parents house for free in payment!  Most parents
would tell their children that they don't expect payment.  My mother told
me that her payment was seeing me raise my child and spending my money on
him.  But I still take her out to breakfast on Mother's Day!

Where the financial balance sheet goes, most of us have been on the
receiving end more often than on the giving end.  That's just a natural
part of our disease.  Step 8 might be a way of balancing out that balance
sheet just a bit more.

And remember what is says in the bible about giving?  It's for it!  8-}

And you can expect to receive what you give ten fold!

So answer these questions either back to the group or in your journaling,
and again there is no such thing as a wrong answer.

1.  Which financial institutions, individuals, or organizations belong on
your financial amends list?

2.  In what ways have you harmed others by your financial debts to them?

3.  What are you willing to do to repay your debts to both individuals and
organizations?

4.  What emotions are you experiencing concerning your debts?

Like I said earlier, financial amends are tricky.  Those of you who are
willing to put financial amends on your lists are being very courageous!
I applaud you!

Love, Cindy

STEP EIGHT ~ PART FOUR


Hi everyone,

What great shares we've had so far on the topic of Step 8.  Your all doing
so wonderfully!  Can you feel the recovery happening?

So by this time we all have a list of people we have harmed, having taken
off the the list those people who have harmed us.  And we have talked with
our sponsors about which people are which.  We have made a second list of
people who have harmed us and we are praying for these people with the
express interest of ridding ourselves of resentments towards these people.
We have further added to this list all of the people and organizations to
whom we owe financial amends.

So now here we are!  Are we ready and willing to make amends to all of
these people and organizations?  It might not be entirely possible to make
amends financially all at once.  I know I would find it hard to pay off
all my debts at once.  The important thing is to make a start.

For that matter, it may not be entirely possible to be willing to make
amends to everyone on your list.  Sometimes willingness comes in phases.
People who you are not yet willing to make amends to now might be
candidates later on for an amends.  The point is that steps eight and nine
or so linked that often as we are doing step nine, we sometimes come back
and get more willing in order to continue.

So to concentrate on step eight,  we need only to ask ourselves two
questions,

1.  Have we been as thorough as we are honestly able to do right now in
making the list?  Does it contain everyone we need it to at this time?

2.  Are we now willing to get started on the more immediate amends?

If the answer to both questions are yes, then you are ready for step
nine!

Sylvia will be leading the discussion for step nine in September.  I look
forward to reading her posts.

If any of you would like to share a positive amends story from your past.
I'm sure that at this juncture it would make those of us doing the step
nine for the first time a little more willing to go ahead.

Thanks for letting me share my ESH with all of you.  This has been a
tremendous growth experience for me.  While writing these four posts I
could certainly feel the hand of my Higher Power guiding me.  I would
encourage anyone of you who would like this experience to contact Chuck
and volunteer for a step for next year.  I am very grateful for this
experience.

All my Love, Cindy

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