This Step is beginning to get to the point where the rubber meets the road. As we look back over the character defects we found in our Fourth Step, we see that they were harmful to ourselves and others. In order to put the past behind us, we need to make amends, insofar as possible.
Quite often we believe that the other party was more at fault than we were, and this perception may well be true in certain cases. It is also true that we have perhaps harmed ourselves as much as or more than anyone else. However, what we want to do in this step is simply to identify those who have been in any way harmed by our activities, and become willing to make amends to them all.
The first part is to make then list. This workshop has already produced some very deep and honest sharing about the ways our addiction has caused us to behave toward others. But perhaps we need to dig even deeper.
Taking our list, we need to see who has been hurt or harmed by our actions. If anger has been a problem, who have we lashed out at? If we have stolen anything, to whom do we owe restitution? And so on. As we think back carefully, we will find our list growing. Again, we must not wait until we have a perfect list, just the beat we can do right now. We will have the rest of our lives to think of others who may need an amend.
But we have to think about it, and make the list as thoroughly as we reasonable can.
The second thing is to become willing to make amends. Oddly, or not so oddly, there will be many to whom we do not wish to make amends! We will find ourselves fearful or hate filled toward some. Why should I apologize to someone who was so nasty themselves? Why should I make restitution to someone who took more from me than I ever took from them? And then sometimes we just blanch with fear because making the amend seems to require so much from us.
But balance is not the thing we seek. What we want to do is to clean our own slate, so that there is nothing that hangs over us ever again. We should know that all this is for our own benefit, and that the response of the other person is completely out of our control anyway. We have to become willing, regardless of the situation. And getting willing isn't always so easy. So this second part of the Step is to get willing.
That may require more than a little contact with our Higher Power. However we choose to do, we need to get ourselves into the situation of being willing to make the amends, all of them, or we will not be able to clean the slate, and we will continue carrying our own baggage. And that can lead to relapse.
There are, in reality, prayers for all the steps, but this one is perhaps especially meaningful:
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.
1. The first thing is making the list. Are you doing it, or have you done it already?
Have you noted the things for which you need to make amends to each person?
2. Are there people who challenge you in the process? Are you willing to make amends anyway?
If not, what would it take to get you to the point of being willing.
1. I have my list. It is not so long this time, nor are the amends due for such awful things as the first time. The first time was the hardest for me, but it also proved to be very gratifying when done.
2. In this time around, I have, in fact, already made amends, since I didn't wait around for week eight to come before doing it. The first time, however, I waited quite some time before I became willing to make certain amends. I was afraid I would lose some of the people closest to me if I had to tell them the truth about some things. But what I found was complete forgiveness. Most people will do that. The few who don't have their own problems. Mine is to clean my slate, and let them worry about theirs.