WTS ~ WORKING THE STEPS

2009

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



STEP EIGHT ESSAY

If the three most important words in the English language are, “I love you,” the two most important words are “I’m sorry.” If we are to truly love ourselves, and anybody else, we have to be willing to sweep the sidewalk of all the detritus that has accumulated there over the years.

Those of you who have been through the Steps before will not have as long a list as there was, perhaps, the first time. But we will all have one.

I asked that you save your inventory, as it can be a big help is seeing who we have harmed through the exercise of our defects of character. Do note, however, that establishing a good boundary is not a character defect. If someone has been abusive and we have found a sane way to keep them away from us, we owe them nothing, even if they may seem remorseful at times. Look back now over your inventory and see who you may have harmed by your actions. We are just making a list, and maybe, like Santa, we should check it twice. The list needs to be reasonably complete, but it does not have to be perfect. We will be doing a Tenth Step daily, and we should be doing all Twelve Steps again from time to time, so we can catch up to any people we might overlook at the moment. As ever, it is more important to get the list done, than to make a perfect list. That is progress, and progress is the name of our game.

There is always the situation in which someone has harmed us. Sometimes they have done this out of the meanness of their heart, and we need to just steer clear of them. But often we will find that we have also done some things to them, perhaps in spiteful response, and we want to sweep off our side of the street, even if we suspect they may need to shovel theirs. This can be a trifle sticky sometimes, but we will discuss that more in the next Step. For now, we look at what we have done, and whether it was good to have done.

We are not charged to rush out and do Step Nine. Indeed, Step Nine can sometimes take a while, and may require resourcefulness. Sometimes, perhaps, even therapy! (I am speaking for myself.)

All we are required to do in Step Eight is to become willing to make amends “to them all.” But we will not wait until we can make amends to every one of them, we will make amends as we are able, working toward the goal of including everyone as we are able to do so.

So this step asks us to become willing. There are many reasons why we might not be willing. Sometimes we see ourselves as being more sinned against than sinning. Sometimes we may have a situation in which we have done something that is illegal or something that seems very shameful. It may take us a while to become willing to make those. That does not keep us from being willing to make the ones we can.

The person whom we have offended most, have harmed the most, is, of course, ourselves. And we have to be willing to make amends for those things we have done to ourselves. The best amend we can make to ourselves is recovery from compulsive eating.

How to become willing? For me, it has meant doing a lot of work with my Higher Power. My unwillingness is a character defect, and I need desperately to change that. And I cannot do it alone. I have to pray about it, however I commune with the God of my understanding. Since I know of no other way to do this, I’ll let you tell me if you do, and I will be surprised by it, I can assure you. Becoming willing, however, is all this Step asks us to do.

That does not mean that we could go to someone in Step Nine with all our fears assuaged. Far from it. We might go with our hearts in our throats. But we will have become willing to go. And that’s all this Step asks of us.

A note: Many people who are newer to program often wonder why Steps Eight and Nine are different Steps. It was not so the there would be a mystical number of twelve. Once a person has worked the Steps conscientiously, they will understand why these two are separate.

Love,

John


Flowers


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


1. Look over and analyze your inventory with a view to remembering those whom you may have harmed. Make a list, and note the things for which you see yourself owing an amend to each person. Have you done this?

2. Share something, if you can, that shows how you see a particular person and amend. (St. Augustine in the Confessions tells of stealing a pear from a certain farmer when he was a boy. This pear was to eat, he wasn’t wasting pears. But it serves in that work to illustrate how he had harmed someone, and had no way to make amends except by contrition. Too long ago and too far away. The thing he notes, in our terms, is that he had stolen, that this was a character defect, and that he had wronged someone, and needed to make an amend in some way.)

3. What process or processes do you see yourself using to become willing?

4. How do you know when you are willing? What does willing mean?

5. How do you visualize yourself making your various amends? How do you think you will go about doing them? What would keep you from doing any certain ones at this time? How might you deal with the long ago and far away situations?


Flowers


STEP EIGHT ~ MY ANSWERS
Made a list of all persons we had harmed
and became willing to make amends to them all.


1. I have looked over the list, and I can see where certain defects I mentioned have not been entirely removed, and I need to make some amends. I have already done some, and will try to do some more soon.

2. A week or so ago I spoke somewhat sharply to my beloved wife for no real reason. I became aware that my difficulties with anger are not entirely removed. Apart from an apology, I came to believe that I needed to pray in a deeper way about this defect, that a real amend would include me doing better, with the help of my Higher Power. I have been doing this ever since. It seems to be helping.

3. The way I will go about dealing with any others is the same as illustrated above. I cannot seem to really overcome any defects by myself, I need help from a Higher Power, and I will seek that help, and try to have the patience to wait for the answer.

4. Being willing means to me to be ready to take action, to do the thing that needs doing. First, I believe, God shows me the amend I need to make, shows me how to do it, and gives me the courage and strength to get it done.

5. Because I have been through the Steps so many times, and done amends in the past to a great many of the more difficult people in my life, my list this time is not so long as it was in the beginning. At that time, I had taken money that was legally ours, but was morally my wife’s, to finance the latter stages of my disease, so the amount I was spending on food wouldn’t show up in the budget. I feared making this amend. I feared she might not love me anymore if she knew. It took me some months to get willing to do this one. I was blubbering the whole time. She heard me out, and then said very simply, “I forgive you.” I guess she did, since she has never mentioned it again. And she definitely still loves me. More than ever, in fact.

All those years of slowly destroying myself left me owing myself a huge amend. I had desecrated my body. In some ways, there is no way to undo all the damages. But the best amend I could make is to give myself the recovery that was open to me. I’ve done fairly well. All the numbers at the doctor’s office are healthy now, when once several were not at all. This will be an ongoing one, because I need to stay in recovery for the rest of my life.

Love,

John




 
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