Step Eight

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


Hi, my name is Thumper and I'm a compulsive overeater. In addition to having tossed my list of character defects into the Mississippi River, I also, without proper guidance, tossed in my entire fourth step moral inventory so I did not have the advantage of having my list of harms already started. Fortunately, I had allowed only a very little amount of time to pass since doing my fifth step, so everything was still pretty fresh in my mind. This was also a point in my recovery where I switched from one sponsor to another because I felt it necessary for my own progress to have a sponsor of the same gender.

The making of the list itself was fairly easy for me. By this time, I had become quite adept at identifying my own parts in things and it was a fairly simple matter for me to identify my harms done to others. However, it had become "too" easy for me to do this, and my sponsor was a great help in removing from the list those things which I had perceived as harms, that were actually nothing more than just thoughts in my head and that had never done any actual harm to anyone.

I was one of those who found it very difficult to find a willingness to make some of my amends, so my sponsor had me separate my amends into those three columns I discussed in my essay, one for those amends I was willing and ready to make, one for those amends which I found somewhat difficult, and another for those amends that I had no willingness whatsoever to make. Another dilemma I ran into was that some of my harms to others had been severe enough that there was no way to make the kind of amends that would compensate for the wrongs themselves. My sponsor was also very helpful in this area. He showed me that, although I could not make direct amends, I could make "living amends" by using my experience in these matters to help others in their own recovery efforts. This was quite a relief for me although I know that some of these amends would forever be a work in progress, that no lifetime would give me sufficient time to find a balance for the damages that I had done.

Of all the amends I struggled with finding a willingness to correct, those that involved the repayment of money and/or would put me at risk of incarceration were the most difficult to find. Many years of theft and embezzlement had left me hopelessly incapable of making any kind of expedient repayment and again I am left with what will probably be a lifelong effort at making this right. My sponsor assured me, in addition to showing me where in the Big Book to find it, that it was not necessary for me to find willingness to make ALL my amends before I began making a start on the first of them. I did find, much to my surprise, that as I began making the amends from my first and second column, I became more and more willing to make those amends that I didn't really want to make.

I have to admit that I've never been able to discuss this step without that old Santa Claus tune about "making our lists, checking it twice, finding out who's been naughty and nice" playing endlessly in my head! :) What things on your harms list did you most have difficulty in finding a willingness to make amends for? I'd love hearing about your own experiences on this step.


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