Step Eight

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







Leader's Share and Step Questions


Sharing Our Lives

Any adventure we take can be so much more enjoyable when shared. In our compulsive overeating we tend to isolate. Sharing our lives becomes difficult. It is because of this we do not develop relationship skills and when practicing our character defects even alienate others. When we join Overeaters Anonymous we discover a whole different world. We find respect, acceptance and encouragement in our meetings, in loops and from people who become our OA friends. It is so comforting to find we are not alone. Our emptiness starts to fill with recovery, friendships and service.

Then we walk out into the world we live in – to our jobs, our family and our friends. They do not speak the language and love and support we find in OA. They have issues with us either because they have problems or because we have created problems. It really can throw us. It can cause us confusion and more pain. We are as the OA 12 + 12 says, “…tempted to eat again rather than face it. ‘What’s the use of abstaining if I’m just going to hurt?’ we asked. “If this is recovery, I don’t want it!” (Page 67)

This was my story when I first joined OA many years ago. I was so afraid to feel my pain or deal with my character defects. Yet, I did find my HP in OA and the healing started with this personal prayer, “What is it I need to understand to get out of the pain I am in.” He always answered and I always listened. It was the beginning of my admitting my powerlessness and seeking my HP’s guidance.

When I returned to OA last year I experienced the same thing. All heck broke loose. I was having technical troubles with getting onto meetings. An old family issue with my sisters came up and got real emotional. And, even more happened all at once… The difference this time was I found myself able to say, “I am willing to do whatever it takes to recover”. I kept coming back. I kept coming back because in OA there is hope and behind me was despair and isolation and messed up relationships. I did not want to go back.

Step Eight is designed to help us with working out the problems we have had in our relationships. It teaches us that:

- If we look at our relationships, we will find patterns that have caused us problems.
- We can hit guilt head on and get rid of it.
- We can learn the healing power of forgiveness.
- Most important, “…we become willing to make amends and make changes.” That is what will free us.

Step Eight - A Two- Part Process – Part One

First, we work at making a list of all the persons we have harmed. Our step four will help us with this by providing us with information about who we may have harmed and what may have happened.

Defining Harm

Before we can decide whose name to include on our list, we might need to be clear about what we mean by harm. The dictionary defines harm as physical or mental damage. Even that can be a personal judgment call.

The OA 12 + 12 gives us some help (Page 68). It suggests thinking about when we have been hurt by others. How did they hurt us? It then suggests we ask if we have acted in similar ways. If we are completely honest we might be very surprised to discover we have treated others the same way we have been treated.

Some considerations about making our list:

1. This list needs to include names of people we have harmed even if they hurt us first. We will be only looking at our side of the relationship.

2. It is also important to include our name near the top of our names because, “We have learned that a complete willingness to make amends to ourselves and to forgive ourselves has been essential to our recovery.” (OA 12 + 12, Page 69)

3. Step Eight is not about judging others. It is about how to learn attitudes of mercy and forgiveness.

4. It is also not about trying to make others feel good. It is about learning to forgive ourselves and others.

5. We also may be tempted to put people’s names on our list because they were rude or hurt us and we are upset with them. Again, this where we need to only take care of our side of the street and forgive them

6. It is helpful to remember in this process we are doing all of this for ourselves so we can recover from compulsive overeating.

Here is how I have come to understand my character defects and how they led me to cause harm to others and became a vicious circle of chaotic behavior. It might help you see the vicious circles in your life:

I had fears that people would see me as defective or stupid. I felt defective yet on some level I knew I had some helpful skills, so was really confused and messed up. -----> I coped with these feelings by falling into a character defect like arrogance or control or manipulation -----> I caused people to be hurt because they felt put down or did something they really did not want to do -----> I have harmed myself because I have not been true to authentic, good self and have harmed others -----> I felt, on some level, uneasy about what I did so I started to have more fears about my life -----> and around and around it goes in its destructive pattern.

Step Eight - A Two- Part Process – Part Two

Part Two of this step is where we become willing to make amends. Again, the word “willing” comes up. It is not an easy thing to do because… “After years of running from any kind of unpleasantness and hiding ourselves in food so we wouldn’t have to feel embarrassment or pain, we’re now asked to admit our failures and face their consequences.” (OA 12 + 12, Page 70). That is an experience in complete honesty and true willingness. Just remember the key words today are “become willing”.

At this time in our recovery we should not go it alone. Our sponsors can help us with this step helping us with the following:

1. By helping us to sort out which names are appropriate to be kept on our list and which need to be eliminated.

2. By helping us figure out how to make the amends. This in itself can lessen anxiety in going forward with our amends.

3. By helping us with forgiveness which is an essential part of making amends.

Steps to Forgiveness
(This is a suggestion only – you do not have to do them here)

The one thing I know about forgiveness is I forgive for myself – to relieve me of the constant reminder that I have been hurt and let those hurts fester. It does not mean the other person is not still held accountable for what they have done. However, that is just not my job. Here are some ideas about how to work on forgiveness.

1. Write down exactly why we are upset with the person. It helps us to write it all out. It can give us a sense of a beginning and, most importantly, an end.

You can use this list of questions to guide you in writing this.

    A. What was the experience that caused the relationship to go bad?

    B. Was it one thing or a number of things? Write it all out.

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

    D. Do I have resentments toward this person?

    E. Do I need to forgive this person?

    F. What can I do to rebuild this relationship?

2. Your writing may be something you want to give to our sponsor.

3. You also may want to symbolically release the hurt by burning the writing, tearing it up and throwing away the pieces.

4. You may want to put your writing away for awhile and re-read it later.

5. If you still have hard feelings, try praying for the person asking for the blessings and good things you would want for yourself. Continue until you feel you have released your resentment and forgiven them.

Final Thoughts

Once we have come to forgiveness any obstacles to our willingness to make amends are removed. Being willing is all that is suggested in this step. We will talk about actually doing it in Step Nine. Whatever hesitation we may feel about Step Nine -- for now all that we need to remember is, “…that we can be willing to do something we don’t want to do.” (OA 12 + 12, Page 73)

One last thought. When you are making your list do not forget that there may be people who have helped you or given you support that you have never thanked. Include them. It will give balance to your list.

Questions

1. How do you identify what actually is harm to another person?

2. What kinds of harm have you done to others – list the character defects that have injured you and disturbed others?

3. Why is it necessary to do Step Eight before you can start relating harmoniously to your HP and to other people?

4. Is there anybody or a number of people not on your list that you are still doing emotional battle over? Explain.

5. Why is forgiveness of the utmost importance in working Step Eight?

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

7. What is your goal for mending your relationships?

8. How do you see Higher Power's guidance in making your list?

Leader’s Share on the Questions

1. How do you identify what actually is harm to another person?

If my heart has anything except love, respect and compassion in it when I interact with anyone, there is a very good chance I could cause harm. Their reaction is a clue also.

2. What kinds of harm have you done to others – list the character defects that have injured you and disturbed others?

Today, when I look at all the character defects I have worked on, I begin to understand why I can relate to so much of what people talk about in their struggles and healing. I think I have done most of them too. If I listed them all, it would take up pages and pages. Here are a few of the most prevalent ones. Some I have worked through. Some I continue to work on.

Addicted to Finding Insights - When I have a problem with someone or something I will process it, research it, explore it, probably even obsess over it. Then an insight comes -- a new understanding. At the time I am sure I have found the insight that will solve the problem, maybe even all of my problems. I feel high, energized. I understand now that this is actually a very dangerous place for me. I always have to come down and back to reality -- there are no simple, single anwers.

For years, I lived for my insights and the high. Trouble was I wasn’t living in a real world. In working with this character defect I have come to understand it was my way of trying to figure out a way to fix my parents. On some level, I think if I figured the mysteries of life, I could fix them and then, finally, they would be there for me.

The harm that came from this was I lived in a “thinking” world. Instead of being present in a heart-felt way especially for my sons. I was always off solving some other problem. When they looked in my eyes they did not see love. They saw pain or confusion. It did harm them. I have repaired our relationships. It took seeing them getting into trouble and into drugs to shake my world enough to do something about ME!!!

Perfectionism - I could never admit I was weak. I was what I called a great problem solver. I would not accept that any problem could not be solved. After all, that would bring up my fears about being weak and that was not safe for me. The harm I did was not allowing myself or those around me to learn to fall down and pick ourselves up. We might have developed real life problem solvings skills. I avoid the falling down, the dark side of my life. Again, I was not living an authentic life. While I have learned to accept I made mistakes and am not so hard on myself, I still sometimes struggle with showing my humanness. It is a priority these days to lighten up abou my humanness.

Being Judgmental - My judgmental days were based on shear fear. I was always looking for people's weaknesses. I am sure it helped me in some insane way to feel less defective. It also gave me reason to not trust them. The truth was I did not trust anyone anyway. I was afraid to trust anyone. I would obsess over every "slight" I felt. I would tell everyone that would listen, blow-by-blow gossip of my latest victim. Like I said, I was really messed up. When I started to accept that I made mistakes and could forgive myself, I stopped being so hard on others. I even started to feel some compassion.

Seeking Attention - Being a needy girl and woman I fought for being the center of attention wherever I went. I'm sure in the process there were people who needed to be heard that were not heard. It is interesting the very thing I wanted so much -- attention and respect -- I did not give to others. These days I am willing to share the attention. Plus, I do not demand it, I work at earning it.

Dishonesty - The biggest amends I needed to make was to myself. I could not believe that I am essentially a good person. I was sure I was defective, maybe even evil. I tried to make myself something that I was not. I created a false identity. The trouble was it was causing me more harm than it was to others. The truth is they probably knew all along I was frightened and had a very confused idea of self-esteem. I lied to myself and that only made it worse. When I got humble and accepted the dark sides of my character were coping mechanism, I actually saw that each one gave me a real gift. I understand myself and others so much better. It makes me a much more compassionate person to others and especially to myself.

3. Why is it necessary to do Step Eight before you can start relating harmoniously to your HP and to other people?

If I do not do Step Eight I will not be able to wipe my past clean and find peace. I am also a great believer int he concept of "what goes around comes around". The peace I enjoy these days is because I have done amends. I have repaired those relationships that my old messed up self harmed. The rest, where more harm might have resulted in my amends, I have prayed for healing and the opportunity for all of us to find forgiveness and peace.

4. Is there anybody or a number of people not on your list that you are still doing emotional battle over? Explain.

My HP works to help me learn more about doing better in my relationships. That is one area I have had a lot to learn about. So, here I am trying to share my experiences, strength and hope about relationships and becoming willing to make amends and I have someone who just fired me as a friend. I am sad because she does not know that the circumstance that caused our riff was done out of love. It was not easy for me to take the risk to be bluntly honest with this friend. I had hoped she would remember how much I cared and accept what I had to say. She didn't. My heart is heavy and the answer is yes to this questions. We are not speaking.

5. Why is forgiveness of the utmost importance in working Step Eight?

For me to make sincere amends I need an open heart and a clear mind that only comes from having forgiven myself and others.

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

Yes, years ago my husband’s ex-wife gave us a lot of problems. However, I did my share. I would write these very judgmental letters about what I thought she was doing wrong. After years of obsessing about it, I grew tired of the problems never getting resolved. I apologized to her for the part I played in our conflict. Even though she did not acknowledge her part, it did not matter. I had cleaned my side of the sidewalk and it was the beginning of a much happier life for me.

7. What is your goal for mending your relationships?

Simply put -- to be released of any pain or hurt or resentment so I can be free and at peace.

8. How do you see Higher Power's guidance in making your list?

It is the only way I could get through making amends. My HP has guided me to so much healing and led me to a life filled with love and adventure traveling fulltime with my best friend, my husband. My part was to follow His guidance no matter how difficult it seemed at the time. My efforts have been greatly rewarded.

Eighth Step Prayer

Higher Power,
I ask Your help in making my list of all those I have harmed. I will take responsibility for my mistakes, and be forgiving to others as You are forgiving to me. Grant me the willingness to begin my restitution. This I pray.

Slogans

Forgive easily - as if your life depends on it.
Pray for those who hurt you; they need the prayers and we need the practice.
H.A.L.T. = Don't get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. (or bored!)
I can do something for 24 hours that would appall me to do for a lifetime.
Try it for 90 days, and if you don’t like it, we’ll gladly refund your misery.


Coralee






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