Eighth Step Prayer
I ask Your help in making my list of all those I have harmed.
I will take responsibility for my mistakes &
be forgiving to others as You are forgiving to me.
Grant me the willingness to begin my restitution.
This I pray.
A thought crossed my mind (shut up!) that this Step and Step Six both ask us to reflect on our situation until we become willing to do something that is difficult for us to do. I donít know about you, but for me, and for others whom I have observed, I note a distinct tendency for addicts to act without thinking. Rationalization and denial are what we meant by thinking. Anything that happened was always someone elseís fault; I was innocent, usually a victim of someone elseís evil genius.
As my mind cleared, and as I worked the steps, I began to realize how often I had been party to any number of situations, and even how often I had created them, or set myself up for them. And one thing eventually stood out: I had harmed myself most of all. My amends to myself is recovery.
Many people find the list of character defects to be a good starting place for reflecting on what we did that may have caused grief or injury to others. If we saw rage in ourselves, toward whom did we lash out? And so on. Many of us have stolen, lied, cheated, and whatever.
The purpose of making amends, which is our next step, is not to seek forgiveness, although that is often found. The purpose is to get rid of our own dirty little secrets, our rationalizations, and our denials. If people forgive us, that is nice, but we have no control over them or their response. Becoming willing does not mean we find some way to ease out of the pain. Being willing means we are feeling the pain, and want it to stop. How often have I hurt someone I loved, disappointed my friends, and injured myself in the process? All that has to go, and we are preparing for that glorious day when it is gone.
I am enclosing here a little something that has meant a lot to me, in hopes it will to you. Some of you will recognize the source of it, others will not. That doesnít matter.
Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry
for having offended me,
because I dread the loss of self-respect
and the pains of self-rejection.
But most of all because
You made me in Your image and likeness
and I am, therefore,
good and deserving of my own love.
Realizing that when I reject myself,
I reject You within me,
I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace,
to humbly forgive and accept myself,
to be aware of You
by recognizing the worth and goodness within me,
and to amend my life
by not cherishing, sustaining or promoting
self-destructive or self-rejecting
thoughts, words or deeds.
John C. Buchanan 8 1977
When I loved myself enough
I stopped regretting my past.
Kim McMillan (who is not the Anonymous of last week.)
Loving ourselves is the biggest thing, and for our lack of it, we make an amend to ourselves.
STEP EIGHT ~ QUESTIONS
1. Look over your list of character defects. Try to think of people who may have been harmed by your exercise of this defect. Make a list of them. Your question is, have you made the list?
2. Look at your part in the situation. You may have been the chief offending party, or the other person may have played their own role in the situation. You are responsible for what you have done that was amiss as you now view the situation. Can you define your part clearly?
3. You must now turn to your Higher Power and ask for willingness to proceed. If you do this with honesty, you will find the courage you need to do what needs to be done. Thatís all it takes, being honest with yourself and with your Higher Power. Are you willing to be honest, and get rid of the pain by going through it, or are you still trying to rationalize or deny responsibility?
4. There is no reason why you have to start at any given place, or with any given person. Sometimes one amends will be easier than another. Some people like to get the hard stuff over with quickly, while others will want to start off with easier situations, gathering strength and hope from those to face the more difficult ones. Can you make a priority list that you are willing to follow, and that suits your needs?
5. We will have to reflect somewhat on people we cannot see to make amends to. We will need to think about some way of offering an amends symbolically. Have you thoughts about how to proceed with these situations?
6. We need to think about the possibility of harm to others. A clear case is adultery, when the other partyís spouse does not know. You may owe them something, but you canít walk up and say Iím sorry I used to commit adultery with your spouse. It might ruin a marriage that has returned to stability and happiness. And there are other examples besides this. But donít use this as an "out", either. Do you know what amends you will need to do symbolically to avoid harming others?
7. Twice above, I mentioned symbolic amends. These might consist of writing a letter to someone who is now deceased, offering it to Higher Power, and then burning it. Or it might consist of giving something as a memorial, or in a personís name. How do you think you might proceed in such cases? When called for, making restitution is a part of some amends. Are you prepared to do what is necessary here? What might you do if you do not have the means to make restitution? What would you do if there were a possibility that you might have to go to jail or some such?
Until next week.