Auds here, abstinent and sober one day at a time by the grace of God, these fellowships and my own efforts.
Oh my, this just seems harder and harder. It is one thing to admit to God and another sympathetic listener my defects of character, but to sit face to face with someone I have been avoiding through shame or embarrassment. Oh my. Well, might as well start out with a prayer.
"Dear God, you have given me so much courage already but I am still afraid of rejection or someone using my honesty against me. So please let me recognize that each one of my fears have been handled without undue pain up to this point. Give me the wisdom to know what to share and what not to share. Do not let me cause more pain to those I have already injured. Let me feel your presence while completing these tasks that I don't want to do. Let me know that you will let me know intuitively how to handle this difficult situation. Save me from justifying my actions. Let me just make my heartfelt plea for forgiveness by my words and actions. Amen"
Remember me asking you to make a list of all the people who made you mad? Well, go back to that list and see where you were part of the problem. Can you put that person on your list of those you have harmed? Remember harmed is not ticked off, it is harmed. Emotional or physical harm needs now to be addressed. I know that I felt most of these people owed me an apology, but my sponsor explained that these were resentful feelings. Oh no, there's an old tape of "poor me." So pray for clarity of mind. Push on. The list of real harm will probably not be so long, and you will have made a good start at amends to those harmed by your new actions toward them. When we feel better about ourselves we feel better about those around us.
For me, I need to forgive myself first — then I can forgive others. So back to the list. Look at your fourth step inventory and the list of those who made you mad. Was there fear involved? I always overreacted when backed against a wall so I struck out at those who did not intuitively know how to handle me. Hmmmm. they did not have a program, or sponsor, or sometimes a higher power. How could they know how to react to someone so out of control? I knew how to twist the knife with silent scorn. I knew how to make someone feel "less than." If I resented the ones who made me feel "less than," I knew the harm that could do. So leaving the "but they" out of my thoughts I wrote their name down on my list.
The financial list was easier, I had already started to be more financially responsible, after all the money I had spent on my addictions was now available to pay my debts. So I was pretty good at making those amends.
Now we have made a list step eight, it is on to step nine. How many times do I hear willing in these rooms. Willing is not big in my repertoire, so now I pray again.
"Please God let me be willing to be willing. Thank you for your presence as I go out from here to do this scary chore you are asking me to do. Amen"
I told my sponsor and everyone who would listen that I hurt no one but myself. Then I went to a marathon and the keynote speaker spoke my exact words. His sponsor asked him if like ivory soap was 99 and 44/100ths pure, could he see that he was the other 56/100ths at fault. I always hate it when my Higher Power tells me something I don't want to hear through the mouths of others. but there it was. The willingness to see that 56/100ths of fault.
My amends took a lot of time, first I asked my sponsor to listen to my list and separate harm from being ticked off. Then I said "this person hurt me too badly to apologize to them."
My sponsor was so kind and gentle, she said what the 12&12 said. "You may put this off for a while but you must not say this I will never do."
So the first amend I made was very hard. I had to admit that I was a liar. That hurt, but it seemed that the person I shared with already knew that and accepted me because her disease had made her a liar also. So I got a little braver and told someone else how I had harmed a third person with silent scorn. "you did the same thing to me" she said. I was shocked — this person was not on my list and I sat there making an amend to her. She said she loved me and that my recovery was such a gift to her and that she was glad to have me back as the person she had known and loved for years. Wow, now to call Americas and apologize for the debt of 11.98. The person I talked to yelled at me for a long time and finally said I would never get credit from them as long as I lived. It is thirty years later and I still have c.o.d. propane. So not all amends are accepted with grace. hmmm. This is where my sponsor helped me see that if I cleaned up my act and made amends that those amends were to heal me and those who chose to be healed by them. So I must detach with love from those I had hurt too badly for them to see me as different. They had heard it all too often. They had no trust that I would not hurt them again. hmmm. Hadn't I felt the same way towards those who hurt me more than once? The answer is of course, I did. Here again I say that faith takes mileage. When first in recovery I was amazed by abstinence given to me as gift on a daily basis as the direct result of my spiritual condition. I didn't trust that abstinence even though I could see that it was not a result of will power but a gift of grace. So how could I expect those I had harmed the most to trust me immediately.
Actions speak louder than words. So now twenty-five years into my second recovery I pray each morning:
"Thank you God for the abstinence You gave me yesterday, and please keep me in the gratitude that guards my abstinence today. Amen."
I have heard that a grateful COE or Alcoholic will not relapse so just for today I feed my gratitude by thinking of all those people who accepted my amends and all those who didn't who keep me on the beam.
Dear friends in recovery, look at your list, share that list with someone you trust to be objective and then act. Trust that even if the worst happens, you won't die. If you don't die, you will feel a release from secrets that were destroying you. So heads up and know that God loves you and so do I. Look at the promises on page 84 of the big book of AA. That says if we were completely honest taking step nine, we know a new happiness etc.
What freedom in not having to cross the street to avoid anyone. What freedom in not having those feelings on inadequacy or persecution. And if my finances are not great at least I am opening bills, and answering the phone. If I get that feeling that I must do something I now have the courage to make a stab at it. I walk in the sun instead of hiding in dark rooms. Go for it.
As usual take what you need and leave the rest.