Step Eight

Introduction
Part 1 and Questions for journaling
Part 2 and Questions for journaling
Part 3 and Questions for journaling
Part 4 and Questions for journaling


Step Eight ~ Part 1


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



Dear Loop Friends:

I am John, and I will be your step leader for Step Eight.

This month we begin work on Step Eight. It reads:

MADE A LIST OF ALL PERSONS WE HAD HARMED, AND BECAME WILLING TO MAKE AMENDS TO THEM ALL.

We will look at all aspects of this steps as we move through the month. For this week, we will look at the first part.

MADE A LIST.

In step four, we made a fearless and searching moral inventory. We examined ourselves as we were able or led, and in later steps had to face our defects with our Higher Power and with another person. Many people find the fourth step inventory to be a good place to begin working the eighth step. Our defects of character have led us to harm ourselves and others. Did we steal money to buy food? Then from who did we steal, and owe an amend which might include a payback. Often, I hear people referring to the fourth and fifth steps as a difficult experience. For me, steps eight and nine were even more difficult. It took me a while to become willing to make my amends. That is why this step is separate from step nine. We have to become willing. That is where we hope to go. For now, let us begin by making a list.

Reminds me of Gene Autry's great hit, "Santa Claus is Coming To Town."

He's makin' a list, he's checkin' it twice, He's gonna find out who's naughty or nice.

Maybe I could just borrow Santa's list. So much easier than making my own.

Questions for Step Eight, part 1.

Take your moral inventory back out and look at it. It is an introspective list; it looks inward. Now we need to look outward, and to put ourselves in the way of feeling the pain of others, pain that we ourselves have caused.

1. When I learned to be a compulsive overeater, it was to survive life as I found it. Eventually, the disease progressed, became a way of life for me. And I still stuffed my emotions.

How often and with whom was I not truly present and giving my love, because food was more important to me than anything else?

I distanced from family and others. Before OA, all the friends we had were made by my wife. Those who loved me lived without any deep emotional support or caring. Why they loved me so is a mystery, since I showed them my love so poorly. My amend had to be a promise to show that I could become present to them, caring about them. This is a promise that I could not fulfill alone. My Higher Power, OA, and the Steps were essential to getting to a good place with this.

2. As a compulsive overeater I often shortchanged myself and others to acquire food. I used my resources for my addiction, and not for giving my family and me the good things in life we all deserved.

How have I stolen, cheated, or lied to avoid the consequences of my addiction? And who was hurt by my actions?

I started "borrowing" money from my mother's purse to buy junk food. I raided our family savings when my habit demanded. My family suffered many things because I was spending so much on food and drink. I am certain that I did not do good work at times because I was asleep with food. I have had to do a number of amends about these matters.

3. In my disease, I often settled for trash if it filled me up. This pattern made me settle for much less than the best in many areas.

How did my willingness to make food and eating my objective in life shortchange others, at home, at work, in relationships and friendships? Who did I harm in this?

Only in recovery has my career blossomed. Much of my life was a series of lateral moves, sometimes from one catastrophe to another. I had no feeling for the situations, and made poor choices. This not only affected me, but the lives of my family. It also helped me, in the progress of my disease, to become resentful, raging, and to eat some more. With food as my higher power, I held to a system of values which were pathetic. People often liked me, but I could never trust that, because I did not trust myself. I became an egocentric person, always looking for a way to get something to eat, not seeking the greater good of myself or others. I am sure this is why I had so few friends. My life was a mess. In the end, I harmed myself and certain others greatly.

4. As my disease progressed, I became filled with rage, self hatred, and anxiety.

How did I cause injury or harm to others by my inappropriate reactions to life?

So much was borne by family and coworkers, and probably I was not a really safe driver. Sometimes I ignored things that needed doing, and therefore lost opportunities that I might have profited from. Life seemed to be giving me a raw deal, and there were many who suffered from my inappropriate responses to my self - inflicted injuries.

This is hardly an exhaustive list of questions, but perhaps it will serve to help us begin to think about what we have done, and how it has affected others. Our Fourth Step inventory may help us begin. Now, instead of looking inward, we begin to look outward, and to feel the consequences of what we have done. This is necessary to get through to the end of Step Nine.
 
 

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Step Eight ~ Part 1: Questions


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


Take your moral inventory back out and look at it. It is an introspective list; it looks inward. Now we need to look outward, and to put ourselves in the way of feeling the pain of others, pain that we ourselves have caused.

1. When I learned to be a compulsive overeater, it was to survive life as I found it. Eventually, the disease progressed, became a way of life for me. And I still stuffed my emotions. How often and with whom was I not truly present and giving my love, because food was more important to me than anything else?

2. As a compulsive overeater I often shortchanged myself and others to acquire food. I used my resources for my addiction, and not for giving my family and me the good things in life we all deserved. How have I stolen, cheated, or lied to avoid the consequences of my addiction? And who was hurt by my actions?

3. In my disease, I often settled for trash if it filled me up. This pattern made me settle for much less than the best in many areas. How did my willingness to make food and eating my objective in life shortchange others, at home, at work, in relationships and friendships? Who did I harm in this?

4. As my disease progressed, I became filled with rage, self hatred, and anxiety. How did I cause injury or harm to others by my inappropriate reactions to life?

Not for posting: Who is now on my list, and what amend will I owe them?

Love in Recovery,

John






Step Eight ~ Part 2


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



In HORTON AND THE WHO, Horton says, "A person's a person, no matter how small." It is easy to overlook some people we nay have harmed. They may be insignificant, or they may be meanies who deserved it, or they may have been bigger than a single human being.

I call this part of my list the "Seedlings and Forest." We can all see the trees. What may be invisible are the seedlings in the ground and the forest itself, which we can't see for the trees. The very little things, and the really big things.

1. How do I treat people who are anonymous to me, like clerks, wait staff, repair persons, hair dressers, etc. How do I treat children, especially my own (if there are such)? The elderly? Invalids? Fat people? People of other races, religions, nationalities? What does this show about me, about my nature? Do I need to make change in my life in relationship to such people?

For me there were two categories of the above where I found myself in need of reform and amends. My own children had suffered from my addiction and my rage. I had been erratic with them as are most addicts. Sometimes they could do no wrong, sometimes no right. They must have been bewildered. A part of my amends has been to help them as adults to come to terms with the insanity in which they were reared, and they have been most gracious about this. The other category was fat people. This stemmed entirely from self-hatred. I saw myself in them, and hated what I saw. In this case, amends were needed to both myself and others.

2. How can I make amends to someone whom I don't know, or who may not be around anymore?

Again, for me, the answer to this problem has a two-fold answer. The first thing is to change myself so that whatever happened in the past does not happen again. In recovery, the vicious mood swings, the rage, the insanity has slacked off. I approach other in a conscious state, trying to be aware of their feelings as fellow human beings. But there are those to whom I owed amends whom I can never find, maybe didn't even know. But the guilt and shame over what I had done needs atoning in some way. So the second thing was, I sat down with this list, and wrote letters to HP explaining my problem and what I had done, and what I would like to do, but couldn't. I asked HP to do what I couldn't. And I turned it over, and left it with HP, with a prayer for blessing, for them and for me. Perhaps the energy which had been so negative could become positive, and we would all gain.

3. How do I make amends to a company, institution, or such like?

People sometimes tells stories of going to the boss and admitting things they have done. Sometimes bosses are understanding, sometimes not. This course of action, however, is fairly obvious, even if difficult. If I had my hand in the till, honest amends means paying it back, at least if it can be done.

For me, however, the problem with companies and institutions was not so much outright theft or overt misdoing. It was rather they way in which I did not live up to my potential for leadership, and therefore never did very well, never went very far. It was a loss both to myself and to the institution for which I worked. In recovery, this has changed. I have now reached the potential I really had, and do a good job. My amends has been to learn new expertise that is invaluable to the operation, and put my own recovery to work for us. I now take short term appointments to operations within the organization (multi-national) where there have been addiction problems in the leadership. So far, I have brought several operations back from the brink and on line in great shape, when things had looked really bad. There really was no one to say "I'm sorry" to, but there was something I could do to right the wrong, and I did it gladly and deliberately. And I am respected in my own eyes as well as others.

4. How can I make amends to the two most harmed of all, the least and the greatest: myself and my Higher Power?

For myself, I found I owed me a lifetime of recovery, done one day at the time. I owed my Higher Power a self for daily guidance and strengthening. The great fear of doing amends was that I knew that just saying "I'm so sorry" carried little weight unless I got out of the box I was in. And the program gave me the way. Today I am recovering, and I am grateful, and this amends holds up. The box I was in was beginning to look like a coffin. Now I have a life, and a Higher Power that loves me. A relapse would mean going back there, and for me, death.

Love in Recovery,

John
 
 

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Step Eight ~ Part 2: Questions


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


1. How do I treat people who are anonymous to me, like clerks, wait staff, repair persons, hair dressers, etc. How do I treat children, especially my own (if there are such)? The elderly? Invalids? Fat people? People of other races, religions, nationalities? What does this show about me, about my nature? Do I need to make change in my life in relationship to such people?

2. How can I make amends to someone whom I don't know, or who may not be around anymore?

3. How do I make amends to a company, institution, or such like?

4. How can I make amends to the two most harmed of all, the least and the greatest: myself and my Higher Power?
 
 

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Step Eight ~ Part 3


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



Part 3: Became Willing.

So often I have heard it said that people wonder why the eighth step simply asks us to "become willing." Why not just make the list, then make the amends? I confess that once I, too, thought that the steps were slightly inflated here. Ten and twelve are mythic numbers, but not eleven! So eight and nine were really just one step stretched out for symmetry!

But like a lot of people who have been through the steps a few times, I have come to appreciate that there is a serious reason for things being as they are. Becoming willing suggests to me that there is a spiritual condition that needs to be met first. I could make amends because somebody or the steps told me to, but that would be a mere external observance. For the amends to finally make me whole for all the harm I have done, I have to be completely willing to undertake this activity from within myself. I am opening myself to a spiritual change from denial to acceptance and from resentment to love.

Question 1: What do I have to do to be willing?

More than anything I had to come to the point of being willing to risk. There was the beginning of accepting myself as having made mistakes without being one. There was the acceptance of the fact that there were those who loved me, warts and all, and if they could, what was hold me up? Would my wife stay with me when she found out I had spend all that money on food and drink? I had to reach the point of realizing that while I couldn't guarantee her response, I could live with me, regardless. I could forgive myself and move on. And I was becoming strong through my program, and a saner, healthier person.

Question 2: What internal changes must come about in order for me to be willing?

I had lots of resentment to overcome, lost of anger to deal with, and plenty of denial. The money I spent I had rationalized as being due me, and only the greed of others denied it to me. But the problem was really mine. So much housecleaning had to be done. I realize now that had I just gone and said I was sorry, but had not changed myself within, there would have been no meaningful amends. And there would have been for me no spiritual progress away from my compulsions.

Question 3: How do I know when I have truly become willing?

I suspect that we will each answer this in our own way. For me I knew it had happened because there was a great catharsis in the moment. The spiritual awakening was taking place, not in that I was forgiven, but in that I was telling the truth, however fearfully. I became willing to face the consequences be what they may, because I could now be purged of the old ways of denial, deceit, and resentment. I was doing this for me and for the pull of a Power greater than myself, just as much as for anyone else. I had defined myself, and that was the greatest part of it. The newly defined self could go on to make sincere amends, and let the chips fly where they may. I think the old self could never have done it at all.
 
 

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Step Eight ~ Part 3: Questions


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


1. What do I have to do to become willing?

2. What internal changes must come about in order for me to be willing?

3. How do I know when I have truly become willing?

Love in Recovery,

John
 
 

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Step Eight ~ Part 4


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



Dear Loop Friends:

I am John, and I am your step leader for Step Eight.

This month we began work on Step Eight. It reads:

MADE A LIST OF ALL PERSONS WE HAD HARMED, AND BECAME WILLING TO MAKE AMENDS TO THEM ALL.

This is the fourth week of our questions on Step Eight. We have looked at the nature of making a list, of seeing exactly who were the persons we had harmed, and the issue of becoming willing.

This week, we want to look at what it means to make amends. Many of our amends are perfectly straightforward, and need little definition. While step nine is the place where it is mentioned that amends may have to be thought about in terms of harming people, step eight is still the lead in step to that. Now is the time to be preparing to think about what is coming.

Also, we can't help thinking about how people may respond to us in the process of actually making amends, and our willingness is affected by our anticipation of that response. Sometimes we may want to do a rehearsal!

Question 1. What amends are obviously straightforward? I broke, I'll have it fixed. I stole it, I'll pay for it or return it. I lied, I need to tell the truth. Whether you post actual examples to the loop is up to you, but make your list with the obvious in mind. When you have made your list and know what the straightforward amends are, you could just say that. It's your call, according to what you feel the need to do.

In the first set of questions I spoke of taking money from my mother's purse when I was a child to go to the store and buy goodies. This amend was so simple, and I knew it would be. In fact, she had known at the time that I was getting money for food, and had not been concerned about it. Maybe she should have been. The thing was, from my end, I was stealing. And even though the amends was easy, I felt much better clearing that out. I could go on, but I expect you catch my drift.

Question 2. What amends will be difficult? How might I go about preparing myself for them? How does being willing include being prepared? How can I resolve the issues about possible consequences?

Again, in an earlier posting I mentioned that I had "taken" money from accounts to pay for food (and drink), and this money was supposed to be for my wife. That was my hardest amend. I did not know whether she would stay or leave, and I had no control over her decision. Because I had been deceitful, I was no longer in touch with the love she had for me, and could not tell what might happen. I also felt like a fool at the time, and felt profound shame. I did not make this amends for some little time, but I continued to be aware of the need to do so, and to seek the strength to do what I knew eventually had to be done. This particular amend was not rehearsed. It just happened one day, and that was clearly the best way it could have come about. Another amend I won't go into here was rehearsed with my therapist in advance, and the scripting was most helpful. [In the beginning of my recovery I went to a therapist trained in food related disorders, and I recommend that to anyone listening.]

What we don't want is something like a true story I know, where a man died after many years of ostensibly happy marriage, and at the wake, a person came forward to the widow and introduced himself as her husband's illegitimate child. This was in fact the case, but the timing of the event was the worst I can imagine. This is not an amend, but it relates to the need to think about what we are needing to do for ourselves will have some kind of impact on others. There may be times when making amends is worse for the other person than not making amends. We may need to talk to someone about this, such as our sponsor, or counselor, or clergy. Also, we must guard against rationalization, which talking to someone will help us resolve. This prepares us for Step Nine.

Question 3: What is my own attitude toward amends? Where is my heart? A child may be forced to tell someone they are sorry, but the apology may not be heartfelt at all. I need to think about my motivations in making amends. True, the program demands it, and I may do it for that reason. But my heart might not really be in it. I want to borrow a concept here.

The things I have done that have harmed others have set loose a negative energy, be it large or small. My purpose in making amends is not so that things can be as though the harm had never happened. Some things cannot be changed, and the reality of harm is one of them. I can be forgiven, even loved, but things can never be as they were. At the least, a certain innocence in the relationship will have been lost. What I want to do is my part in changing the energy to a positive one. This is something that I can do without regard to the reaction or response of the other person. And this is exactly what making amends can do for me. I am freed of the negative energies of the burdens of guilt and shame, and the negativity in myself that such things beget. The positive energies are described in the Promises of the Program:

The Twelve Promises

1. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

2. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will accept it.

3. We will comprehend the word Serenity.

4. We will know peace.

5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

6. The feelings of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.

7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellow travelers.

8. Self-seeking will slip away.

9. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.

10. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.

11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.

12. We will realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Thank you for letting me be the leader for Step Eight.

Love in recovery,

John
 
 

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Step Eight ~ Part 4: Questions


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


1. What amends are obviously straightforward?

2. What amends will be difficult? How might I go about preparing myself for them? How does being willing include being prepared? How can I resolve the issues about possible consequences?

3. What is my own attitude toward amends? Where is my heart?
 
 

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