Hi, my name is Tami, and I am a COE, trudging the road to Recovery one day at a time with all the rest of you. I am your Step Study Leader this quarter. Frankly, I am willing to be willing to be grateful for this step, and just for today, I am pushing gently through my resistance to better understand the spirituality of this step and the practical work of it also.
The first task is to make a list of persons we have harmed. The second part is a challenge to become willing to make amends. Many a person wants to get the pain of making amends over and done with and jumps too quickly to Step Nine. Step Eight is a preparation step, just as steps one and two prepares us to turn our will and lives over to our HP in Step three. There is spiritual power in working step eight for our continuing growth and recovery. Each step in the twelve steps is the same size, and we can stand on that step as long as it is necessary for us to prepare ourselves with our Higher Power's assitance and all the tools in our recovery to drop our defenses, our pride and our expectations.
How do I make a list? I use my fourth step inventory list of people harmed. Some add people they still feel discomfort or resentment toward. Some amends will be easy and I am willing to do soon, and so they go to the top of the list. As I work thru the list and work thru each one, I build courage as I examine and pray about each one. I become ready to tackle the easier ones at first, and build on my efforts in that way. My courage grows as I examine each one, and put it in my Higher Power's hands for the timing and methods. I remain willing and open to guidance and ideas from my HP, my sponsor, other people in program and at meetings as I listen to other's experience, strength and hope.
Many on this list I must examine carefully, as one of my defects is to be overly responsible and assume blame for everything. As I examine it closer, some I have crossed off the list. I am not responsible for other's reactions to how I've worked my recovery, set boundaries and when this was carefully and thoughtfully done, I let go of other's response to this change in me and my behavior. Some were people who harmed us and we are not actually responsible. If I resent them, then my own peace of mind requires that I forgive for my sake, and not for an apology, or any other reaction from other people. I am looking to clear up my part of my past, find the action I need. Focusing on other's reaction may block my progress. This is my eighth step to do, not someone else's. I focus on staying willing.
I have learned it is ok to make plans, but not to plan the outcome. One of my children that I began to make an apology to began to apologize also for their behavior surrounding the incident. Another time when I began to make an amend with a different person, the person could not remember the occaison at all! I learned that I had felt guilty about it when I hadn't actually harmed that person. I had not wanted to make the amend, but had been willing. As I made the attempt, I felt the need to forgive myself and to move on. I put myself on this list for beating myself up about things that were not my fault.
This step is not about deciding how to make the amends, or other details, it is becoming willing, overcoming our resistance, our fear, our guilt. The spiritual part of becoming willing is to become willing to forgive ourselves so that we let go our guilt and need to be punished. We are working on becoming willing of clearing our side of the street and all our baggage of the past. We are clearing all reasons for guilt, discomfort and shame from our lives.
Writing it all out has helped me a lot. I write on first the reason I believe i have harmed that person. I have felt the cleansing of this question, as it has helped me to clarify my motives. It has helped me to avoid people pleasing behavior for approval and which would potentially harm me further. In this way I was able to be careful I did not add to the list of harms I had done to myself.
Step Eight is for me. If others receive some reward or benefit from my Eighth Step, that is a bonus. If I make the list and become willing to make appropriate amends, one thing is for certain -- I will reap the benefits.
Blessings in your recovery,
WTS Step Study Leader
STEP EIGHT ~ QUESTIONS
1. How do I identify what actually is harm to another person?
2. Are there people I am willing to make an amend to first? Why?
3. Are there names on my list which may not belong there?
4. Have I harmed myself? How?
5. Please share your thoughts, feelings or challenges with this step?
6. How do I become willing to make amends?
WTS Step Study Leader