Step Eight

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


Step Eight - Part One of Four

Hi All,

There is that word again ~ willingness. Nice people like us have harmed other people? And now we've got to make yet another list? You mean I've got to go to each person I've done or said something bad to and tell them I'm sorry? Please notice that Step Eight doesn't say to make amends to them all. It once again asks for your willingness to do this.

Cindy will be your Leader for Step Eight. Your assignment this week will be to read the Pages 67- 73 of the Overeaters Anonymous 12&12. If you don't have this wonderful book, you can pick one up at your face-to-face meeting or order a copy here.

Love in recovery,

Hi WTS Members!

My name is Cindy and I am a compulsive eater and will be your Step Leader this week. I'm looking forward to that.

I've been thinking about step 8 and why it comes after step 7. After reading the shares a lot of you wrote about what happened to you in Step Seven I can see that we must be rid of our character defects before we can see that we even hurt anybody. Especially if one of our character defects was justification. How would we know if we really hurt someone? Our ego would have been too busy telling us that we could do no wrong.

But we have let go of our character defects and are ready to take that next step.

Step 8 is the whole purpose of all the steps. In the AA 12 & 12 it says that in steps 8 and 9 we begin to rebuild our relationships and repair the wreckage of the past. This is the very important purpose of *all* the steps ... to rebuild our relationships. We as humans need other people in our lives. Our disease may be above all others about isolation. So often in the past we shut people out of our lives because there is no room for both them and our eating behaviors.

When we come to OA then and get abstinent for the first time we begin to look around us and see that we maybe have no friends left. We have excluded them from our lives, forced them away and made excuses why we could not do things with them. I found that when I tried to rebuild my friendships one response that I got was "I thought you hated me!" I didn't hate them. I just didn't think they would let me eat compulsively around them. What kind of friends would they be to allow me to kill myself with food?

When an alcoholic gets sober he needs to find sober people to hang around with because his drinking buddies (fair weather friends at the best) were dragging him down. I found that some of my relationships had to change. When I first got abstinent I could no longer hang with my eating cronies. I could no longer go out to lunch with the girls because they all ordered deserts and I couldn't face just sitting there watching them devour turtle sundaes. The first day I said "No thanks, I won't be going with you," they all looked at me like I had herpes "Well Ok! Be that way!" one said.

In looking for people to go on this list I searched back over my life and tried to discover the relationships that had sustained damage. That's all! Laying blame was not in my mindnot yet. It states in the OA 12 & 12that "we will need to include the name of everyone we can remember having harmed even those who hurt us first." So in searching for names I also put down the names of people I hated because if I'm truly going to rebuild my relationships I cannot leave out anyone ... especially those whom I hate for some reason. Maybe the reason I hate them is because I perceived that they had done something to hurt me. But I was not laying blame at *anyone's* doorstep. That is not what step 8 is about.

So I went through every relationship I had. I'm not talking about past acquaintances. I'm talking about real relationships where I had the person's phone number in my phone book if not memorized. If I hadn't seen that person in a while I asked myself why not? If I was unhappy with the answer, that person went on the list. In doing this as thoroughly as I did I ran across several names where I had left the relationship on good terms but at the same time I felt that the person involved had been such a good friend that they deserved a phone call or letter anyway telling them that I appreciated their friendship and everything they had done for me in the past. Somewhere it says that where relationships are concerned we need to sweep our side of the street.

I called one fellow whom I had dated in college briefly. We had been friends since I was fifteen. I told him that I was sorry I hadn't kept in touch with him because I really did value his friendship and he said to me "It's Ok Cindy. I didn't keep in touch with you either."

Just because he had not swept his side of the street however was no excuse that I could neglect mine!

Now as we take pen in hand and write out our list we are not just asking ourselves have we harmed this person but where are we in our relationship with this person. Pull out some tools. It amazed me that all the BB has to say about step 8 is the following statement: "We have a list of all persons we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make amends. We made it when we took inventory." If this is indeed true for you, now is the time to get out the old inventory and dust it off like Bob A. says. Please begin making your list. In a couple of days, I'll be writing on the topic of checking it twice!

So remember ... as you are thinking about each person with whom you have had a relationship ask yourself these questions:

  1. How did the relationship end? Well? Badly? Not at all?

  2. How do I feel about how it ended?

Do not lay blame. Just add names to a list. Nothing more.

Tomorrow we will begin to sort out which people really belong on the list. The OA 12&12 states that we will enlist the help of our sponsor for this task. And in the meantime here is a topic on which we can share this week:

I have talked about one amends that I made to a college friend of mine. The relationship did not end badly. He did not feel hurt by my neglect of him over the years but my amends had to do with gratitude. This amends balanced out my Steps 8 and 9 the same way the positive and negative sides of the balance sheet balanced out my inventory.

  1. Share with us your thoughts on why it is important to you to keep balanced.

  2. How can you make your amends more balanced?

  3. In preparing to become ready to make amends, what are your real honest feelings right now going into the making of your list?

  4. Despite any negatives feelings why is it important to you to go ahead with making your list?

Good luck everyone. I'll be awaiting your responses.

Lots of Love, Courage and Faith


Step Eight - Part Two of Four

Hi Folks!

This is now the time to look at our Step Eight lists that we have all written out and decide who should be on it and who should not.

I've often heard, in regards to Step Eight, that this is where we sweep our side of the street. If we are truly painstaking about this process we will look at each person on our list and remember back to before the relationship ended. What hurts were sustained in this relationship and by whom, by you or by the other person? If the answer was that both people in the relationship were hurt then you do owe an amends to that person.

Yes, but, that person hurt me more than I hurt them! We tend to say this as an excuse to not to face this person again. This shouldn't matter with Step Eight. It says in the BB on page 78, "His faults are not discussed. We stick to our own."

In going down through the list this might be a good time to also make another list of people with whom we have resentments. I keep my resentment list in a little book of things that I pray about. We have all heard about the idea of praying for people we resent. Don't you just love this program? The forefounders of AA were so wise, they have a neat package for every contingency. We pray for those who have hurt us, and we make amends to those we have hurt! So simple! The hard part is knowing which is which. The OA 12 and 12 asks us to consult our sponsors with help regarding these issues. They can get very mixed up.

On a personal note, there was a little girl in school with me that hated my guts. She stomped on my foot, she pulled my hair, she made me the butt of several practical jokes, and mean tricks. For years I didn't know why she hated me so much. Again and again I asked my mom, "Why doesn't Wendy like me?"

Several years ago when going through my fourth step, an abstinent fourth step, so therefore one that was a very honest. I had a memory about going to vacation bible school. I had made friends with Wendy at bible school and we were best friends! We would hold hands and skip along, we shared secrets and talked. I didn't know this at the time but she had just moved into the neighborhood. After bible school, I never saw her again all summer. But then on the first day of school I realized she was here to stay, she was in my class. I don't know why I did it but I didn't want to share my old friends with this new friend and I acted horribly toward her. I was the one who had drawn first blood. I was the one who had hurt her first. All because she didn't fit into my idea of status quo! She is one of the people I owe amends to. After all these years, all the things she did to me are no longer bothersome to me because I know that if I hadn't hurt her, she would have been my friend for life! I have forgiven her for doing all those horrible things to me all those years, but I still have to make amends to her for the horrible thing I did to her.

A word about self amends: the fact that we are compulsive overeaters, or have an eating disorder of any kind means automatically that we have hurt ourselves physically. Therefore our own name should be on the amends list. We might need to find out the ways that we have hurt ourselves, emotionally as well as spiritually. I know that in my own life I have had to deal with the character defect of self-sabotage. It is one that I had to ask God to remove from me.

Just as manipulation was a tricky part of my disease, so was self-sabotage. I was such a good manipulator that half of the time I didn't even know I was doing it. I would express something to one of my friends in the same way that my mother, the master manipulator, expressed a guilt-ridden request to me. I knew no other way to express myself in those circumstances. Several amends had to do with this.

Likewise, my self-sabotage gave me a hard time most of my life and I didn't even know it was ME who was the enemy. I did things that would purposely harm my chances to get ahead or to do something I liked doing, like for example, I would go out and spend every last cent I had and then realize I needed to buy gas for the car or something just as important that I really couldn't do without. I might start a "diet" (in the old days before OA) just after I'd bought a ton of junk food. Or I'd go out drinking the night before a final exam.

The disease causes me to think in a way which is unhealthy for my body. The more unhealthy my body gets, the worse my thinking gets, and then the worse I feel about myself. This downward cycle that so many of us have experienced is also part of the self-sabotage. Again, as I say, I had to break out of this entire cycle and ask for God's help to rid myself of this.

So in essence, taking the steps to the best of my ability is what I am doing to make amends to myself. Giving myself the respect that I deserve, loving myself, pampering myself, keeping myself clean and groomed especially when I go out in public. I make amends to myself by getting help for all the problems in my life that I can't seem to handle myself, that includes other self-help groups, therapy, religious advice, or any other problems or concerns I have. By not allowing people to stay in my life who are bad for me, no matter how much I "love" them. I make amends to myself by behaving toward myself the way I would want others to treat me!

Many of us, in the depths of our disease, wouldn't treat ourselves very good but also had people in our lives that treated us very badly. This is the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you!

The golden rule is not a law by which we SHOULD live, rather it is a law of nature, like gravity, by which we DO live. Many of us don't like ourselves, we treat ourselves very badly indeed, therefore in our diseased thinking we reason that it's OK on some level to be horrible to others because we don't treat them any worse than we are treating ourselves. It simply stands to follow that as we grow in the steps, we become better people and we end up by liking ourselves better. As we gain more self-acceptance, we also gain more acceptance of others. So in fact, when we are treating ourselves horribly we can't treat others any other way. When we are treating ourselves well, we are treating others well also.

I have heard it stated in meetings and here on line, "I ask myself if I would like the other person to do to me what I did to them. Simply stated this is the question we must ask ourselves as we go through the list.

So now, we are ready to go down the list one by one.

Here are some journaling questions to ask yourself about each person. If you would like to share the answers to these question about one or two people on your list, it might help others to see HOW it works.

1. How did the relationship with this person end?

2. Was this relationship always bad or was it good at some point and then turn bad?

3. What happened to turn it bad?

4. What part did I play in turning this relationship bad?

5. Do I have resentments toward this person? Do I need to forgive this person?

6. What can I do to rebuild this relationship so that the friendship (substitute any positive relationship word) will come back into it?

There will, as it says in the BB, be times when the relationship will not be able to go back to what it was. There are also times when you won't want to continue with the relationship as it was. That's OK, life goes on. Therefore, maybe if you had another goal in mind you might know how you want your amends to go.

For example, I needed to make amends to an ex-boyfriend and his wife for trying to break them up before they were married. I knew that the wife wouldn't want to maintain a friendship with me and I could not, because of unresolved feelings for my ex-boyfriend, hang around in a friendship with him. So I decided ahead of time that I was going to still make amends to them but part of my amends would be to tell them that they would probably never see me again. But the point was that I had mended the fence, but I was on one side and they on the other. My goal was to be able to walk down the street and not be afraid of seeing them. I had left the relationship on a positive note, but I had indeed left the relationship!

So, share some of your wonderful ESH on these questions:

1. Talk about a person on your list as pertains to the six questions above. You need not reveal anything too painful to the loop but it might help others to see how we have harmed our own relationships.

2. Do you have anyone on your list that hurt you a lot but in fact it was you who drew first blood?

3. In what ways have you hurt yourself--physically, emotionally, or spiritually?

4. What can you do to make amends to yourself?

5. How do you apply the golden rule to your life?

6. What is your goal for mending your relationships?

There is no right or wrong answers to these, so please just share on any or all of them that hit you.

Love and hugs,

God help me to become willing to sweep away the debris of self will and self reliant living.
Thy will be done for this person as well as for me.  Amen


Step Eight - Part Three of Four

Hi Folks!

Shall we talk this week about financial amends now? This is a touchy one. By the strictest letter of step 8 do we really harm others by being in debt to them? When I think of my financial obligations, I see them mostly in terms of huge, faceless institutions, Citibank Visa, Chase Manhattan Mastercard, Discover! Who am I really harming by having these debts?

No one, as long as I pay them. Maybe in fact, the only one I'm really harming by paying these debts is myself because of the huge service charges. So it becomes a self amends to get these things paid off.

But to keep in mind the reason behind step 8 and really all the steps, is to build back our relationships and to clear away the garbage of the past.

So we look at financial amends not just in terms of our credit cards but other creditors, most of us know what happens to our phone or electricity when we don't pay those bills, they get turned off. But what if we needed work done on our car, or borrowed money from a friend or parent, or if we hired a contractor, or went to the doctor, or called the plumber, and couldn't pay them. What would happen? Not only would they not do work for us again, or loan us money but they would also do some damage to our name around town. Hard feelings would result and our relationship with that person would indeed break down and suffer damage. We would need to make financial amends.

We might also have stolen money or merchandise from an individual or a store. In which case we might feel compelled to repay these people or institutions. While there is certainly nothing wrong with this, it does clear our conscious, and in fact we can argue that by stealing from these people and places we were in fact harming them. Amends can be made financial through donations to the organizations involved. For example, if as an employee we were involved with theft, say merchandise from a store in which we worked, then a possible way to repay the theft would be to donate money to a pet project or charity of the owners.

In college, I stole $20 out of my roommate's drawer in order to buy a pizza. When I came to make amends to this roommate, I tried hard to find her but she had gotten married and moved. I had conveniently forgotten her married name. But I knew she was the member of this one church so I went there and put the twenty into the collection plate and said a prayer for her. I was a non-believer back then and she was always trying to convert me. So I'm sure she would have approved of what I did to make amends to her.

It says in the 12&12 that the amends we say is not for the other person, but for us and for our continued sobriety (abstinence). Therefore if it's to our benefit that we pay the price, then we must do it. I was recently made aware of how good it feels to be debt free! Of course almost at once my husband and I were back into debt again but they are no longer the weigh me down type of long term debts. They are debts that can be paid off within a year or six months. Being rid of those dragging debts is like becoming aware of cooler weather after a long hot summer! I suddenly felt calm and energetic. It was well worth all the deprivation that my family went through. Now we live on a zero balance budget. If we don't have the money to go out, we stay home! No biggy, we'll get more money come Thursday and then we can go out.

Should we be afraid of prosecution? What if we stole something big from a store or employer? How do we make amends for this when it is something big that we might go to jail for? I have heard of people writing a letter to the store if it was something small that was shop lifted, even if it happened years earlier, and explained that they had taken the item and enclosed was a check or money order to cover the amount of the item taken. If it was an employer and the money was embezzled, a payment plan to return the money is sometimes able to be worked out. I have never heard of someone being prosecuted for trying to honestly make financial amends. Individuals concerned can see that you are sorry and are trying your best to make things right, especially when you say that you're doing it because you felt guilty about it and that you now know it was wrong to do.

There are many ways to make amends financially to people who have died, such as a parent or friend, or to businesses and organizations that have since gone out of business. Donations to pet or similar organizations are always a good way to do it. I had a friend who died of bone cancer. I still make donations to the cancer institute in her memory. Do I do it because I feel guilty about her for some reason? Yes, you bet! I was 15 the year she lay dying in the children's hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. I was out playing baseball and having fun that summer, and I only went to see her once. I was too young, and had never known anyone that died before that. I didn't know how to act and so I just ignored her and the whole problem. Yep, I feel very guilty about that even still. I know that she has forgiven me! I know that I probably have more than made amends for that summer. But you know, every year when I write that check on her birthday, I feel very good about myself.

I've heard of kids repaying their parents for raising them by buying them a car or taking them out for lunch. I have a friend whose son is an electrician. He wired his parents house for free in payment! Most parents would tell their children that they don't expect payment. My mother told me that her payment was seeing me raise my child and spending my money on him. But I still take her out to breakfast on Mother's Day!

Where the financial balance sheet goes, most of us have been on the receiving end more often than on the giving end. That's just a natural part of our disease. Step 8 might be a way of balancing out that balance sheet just a bit more.

So answer these questions either back to the group or in your journaling, and again there is no such thing as a wrong answer.

1. Which financial institutions, individuals, or organizations belong on your financial amends list?

2. In what ways have you harmed others by your financial debts to them?

3. What are you willing to do to repay your debts to both individuals and organizations?

4. What emotions are you experiencing concerning your debts?

Like I said earlier, financial amends are tricky. Those of you who are willing to put financial amends on your lists are being very courageous! I applaud you!

Love and hugs,

God help me to become willing to sweep away the debris of self will and self reliant living.
Thy will be done for this person as well as for me.  Amen


Step Eight - Part Four of Four

Hi everyone,

What great shares we've had so far on the topic of Step 8. Your're all doing so wonderfully! Can you feel the recovery happening?

So by this time we all have a list of people we have harmed, having taken off the the list those people who have harmed us. And we have talked with our sponsors about which people are which. We have made a second list of people who have harmed us and we are praying for these people with the express interest of ridding ourselves of resentments towards these people. We have further added to this list all of the people and organizations to whom we owe financial amends.

So now here we are! Are we ready and willing to make amends to all of these people and organizations? It might not be entirely possible to make amends financially all at once. I know I would find it hard to pay off all my debts at once. The important thing is to make a start.

For that matter, it may not be entirely possible to be willing to make amends to everyone on your list. Sometimes willingness comes in phases. People who you are not yet willing to make amends to now might be candidates later on for an amends. The point is that steps eight and nine or so linked that often as we are doing step nine, we sometimes come back and get more willing in order to continue.

So to concentrate on step eight, we need only to ask ourselves two questions,

1. Have we been as thorough as we are honestly able to do right now in making the list? Does it contain everyone we need it to at this time?

2. Are we now willing to get started on the more immediate amends?

If the answer to both questions are yes, then you are ready for step nine!

Sylvia will be leading the discussion for step nine next week. I look forward to reading her posts.

If any of you would like to share a positive amends story from your past. I'm sure that at this juncture it would make those of us doing the step nine for the first time a little more willing to go ahead.

Thanks for letting me share my ESH with all of you. This has been a tremendous growth experience for me. While writing these four posts I could certainly feel the hand of my Higher Power guiding me. I am very grateful for this experience.

Love and hugs,

God help me to become willing to sweep away the debris of self will and self reliant living.
Thy will be done for this person as well as for me.  Amen


Step Eight - Forgiveness

Dear WTS Steppers ~

As we bring to a close our work on Step Eight, I'd like to share with you a little about forgiveness. Some of what I will write are my own opinions and some of it will come from non-conference literature. In Step Eight, there is a gap between listing those we have harmed and becoming willing to make amends to them all. I believe that forgiveness is what must happen between the list we make and our becoming truly willing. Once this happens, it's smooth sailing on to Step Nine when we are asked to make *direct* amends to those whom we have harmed. I believe Step Eight is more difficult to come to terms with than Step Nine. Once we have forgiven ourselves and, in many cases, our offender, it becomes much easier to make the amends.

While Steps Eight and Nine focus on the damage we have done to others, we should also deal with the damage done to us. And that is what I want to share with you after a week of talking about those we have harmed. Our aim point is to emerge having forgiven anyone who has harmed us just as we make amends to those we have harmed.

At the risk of being redundant X 100, I also want to reiterate that forgiving someone who has damaged us may be a sort of selfish act because we do it for us ... not our offender. If it affects our offender positively, great ... but in every instance I've had personal experience and forgiven, it helps me, changes me and makes my life better.

"Forgiveness is the overcoming of negative affect and judgment toward the offender, not by denying ourselves the right to such affect and judgment, but by endeavoring to view the offender with benevolence, compassion, and even love, while recognizing that he or she has abandoned the right to them. The important parts of this definition are as follows: a) one who forgives has suffered a deep hurt, thus showing resentment; b) the offended person has a moral right to resentment but overcomes it nonetheless; c) a new response to the other accrues, including compassion and love; d) this loving response occurs despite the realization that there is no obligation to love the offender (Subkoviak, Enright, Wu, Gassin, Freedman, Olson, Sarinopoulos, 1992, p.3).

Did you notice the last few words. There is no obligation to love the offender. In fact, you don't have to even like the offender. I believe there are some who feel guilty because in the process of forgiving, they think they must revert to 'business as usual' and that is not the case. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. The art and act of forgiveness is simply that. And to implement this newfound attitude toward someone who has hurt you deeply and left you with the willingness to make a direct amends is truly a miracle.

Forgiveness is necessary for us to move on to Step Nine. It took me a long time to understand how to forgive and this is one reason we need sponsors. Sometimes we are paralyzed by having our mindset so rigid that we can't even bring ourselves to talk about a situation where we've been harmed and the thought of forgiving that person or those persons is something that becomes easier when we have someone who cares deeply for us like a sponsor. Overeaters Anonymous' 12&12 says this: "Our first step toward forgiving someone, oddly enough, might be to write down in black and white the reasons why we are angry with this person. The writing process can be very healing because more than any other tool of our program, it gets us in touch with our true feelings. Writing clarifies emotions which have been confused and buried in us, sometimes for many years. Also, by setting down our grievances in black and white, we place a boundary around them. Whether the telling of them takes up two paragraphs or twenty pages, whether it takes us minutes or hours, we finally see that there is a limit to how much we have been hurt. Our grievances are only so big and no bigger. The hurt had a beginning, and it can have an end as well." (pg 72)

Forgiving liberates us. Frees us. Allows us to move on and no longer wallow in all that and makes it possible for us to leave our victim mentality. Although I'm not going to type it out, there are some words in the Big Book that even now after having read them probably a hundred times, they still make me almost cry because they're just so beautiful. Its the third paragraph on Page 552 in the Chapter "Freedom from Bondage" (written by a woman, by the way) and I hope you will read them as I just did. I envision someone confident and loving and kind and emphatic saying these words. Awesome! Each time I read those words, it's like reading them for the very first time.

There is an exercise I have done that I want to share with you before we move on. Some of you have finished Step Eight and are ready to go. Others of you are working hard and catching up. I hope some of you might do this exercise because it is very helpful.

Find a quiet place where no one can bother you ... away from the computer and the telephone and, preferably, where no one can hear you. Make yourself relive the pain that you have experienced from someone you may have cared about deeply ... someone who may no longer be in your life ... someone who may never be there again. Relive the emotional agony that resulted from the experience. Then try to look at the situation in a detached way. Ask questions. What caused them to hurt you? Where were they coming from? What motivated the attack or incident? Were they ill? Had someone done something similar to them? Were they hiding something and you discovered it and they were really angry with themselves and took it out on you? Do these questions that you're asking them threaten *you?* Do you feel you may lose your grip and have to change some feelings? Do you find yourself becoming angry? Finish up the exercise with this person and speak these words out loud to them as if they were there:

<Insert the name of your offender>, I think I am beginning to understand why you did what you did to me. You felt you were losing control and in order to ease your own pain, you had to inflict it on me. You can't hurt me anymore ... I refuse to let you. I'm letting go of all the pain you've caused me and, because I care about ME, I'm making this choice. This does not mean that you didn't do a terrible thing to me but in forgiving you, I am empowering myself and validating my feelings and I am free of your past abuse and any future abuse you might direct my way. I am releasing your hold on me. I am now free. I'm moving on.

Do this exercise for everyone on your list. It doesn't have to be done at the same time. But I believe it will be helpful to you and that your life will change as a result.

Tomorrow we will begin Step Nine and we're going to make it easy again for you to catch up. Sylvia will be your leader. We will be on Step Nine for two weeks and I have a surprise for you the second week.

Try to get to a meeting today ... and remember the marathon next week. Someone told me once that if you attended a TRG Marathon on Thanksgiving that any calories you consumed for a 24 hour period would automatically dissolve. Honest! True story. :-)

Love in recovery,

God help me to become willing to sweep away the debris of self will and self reliant living.
Thy will be done for this person as well as for me.  Amen


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