The principle behind this step is SELF DISCIPLINE.
Iím sure having done a step four youíve probably unpacked a lot of stuff and realised some of the harm you had done others whether by omission or commission. I know in my first step four I thought I was the worst person ever but if truth be told, most of the people Iíd harmed were more because I failed to do something rather than that I had deliberately harmed them. In fact in the case of my children it was because I was emotionally unavailable to them. An important aspect of this step I only learned later on is to let go of guilt and shame which I seemed to have thrived on for most of my life.
This step is a two part process in that we first decide who needs to be on our eight step list. I know I was so busy blaming everyone for the way they treated me but in actual fact I had also hurt them. This is a first step in getting out of the blame game which I know I certainly played a lot when I was in the food. I know often we react badly to people because we donít like ourselves or feel we are being attacked or hurt in some way, but if we look at it realistically, there were probably times when we reacted in ways toward others which was very hurtful to them too.
I know for me when I was making the list of people Iíd harmed when I did my first step eight, I realised because I was the ultimate people pleaser, that Iíd probably harmed people particularly those closest to me by being emotionally unavailable and the list was really quite short. I knew I certainly had hurt my mom who had passed away by the time I found the program, and that was the hardest for me because I knew I owed her a huge amends and she wasnít around for me to be able to do that.
Somehow I knew I owed my children an amends because having gone through a messy divorce and a remarriage, I knew that they were a casualty of that, and I also knew once I got honest that I hadnít been emotionally available to them when I was in the food. But it took me a long time to realise exactly what Iíd done and how Iíd harmed them. I know one of the gifts Iíve received in this program is that of increasing awareness and being teachable. In the past I spent my life in blaming everyone around me for what was wrong in my life and I never accepted responsibility for my part in anything. For the first time in my life I had to look at myself and what Iíd done wrong.
What I was also reminded of by my sponsor at the time was that my name should be at the top of my amends list because of all the harm Iíd done to myself when I was in the food. Besides the damage I did to my body with all the crazy eating, Iíd also damaged my relationships by isolating and not being available to others.
Part two of this step is becoming willing to make the amends. Sometimes we may not feel willing at the time or any time soon and we may need to pray for willingness to do our amends. This program is not a race and just by doing the footwork of making the list and then praying for the willingness to at some stage make amends is a step forward.
Another huge lesson for me in this step is that of forgiveness both of myself and others. Over time I was slowly able to forgive myself for what Iíd done when I was in my disease, but there was one person I never thought Iíd be able to forgive and in any event he didnít deserve my forgiveness. That was my ex husband and I realise now that for years I hung onto that anger and resentment towards him which was harmful for me as well as my children and detrimental to my recovery. Thankfully some years ago I was able to listen to that still small voice inside telling me it was time to let it go and I was finally able to forgive him. It was so freeing and I felt so much lighter and am reminded of a lovely saying which says ďForgiveness is like setting a prisoner free; to find that the prisoner is you.Ē
ASSIGNMENT AND QUESTIONS ON STEP EIGHT
Read step eight in the OA 12 &12 or p.76 in the Big Book and answer the following questions.
1. Why do you think itís necessary to do Step Eight before you can start improving your relationships with people?
2. How do you identify what actually is harm to another person?
3. How have you harmed yourself and will you be putting your own name on your Step Eight amends list?
4. Have you put the names of people you hurt even they hurt you first?
5. Which of your character defects do you think have particularly hurt or injured others?
6. Why is forgiveness of the utmost importance in working Step Eight?
7. Are you willing to pray daily for those people who have wronged you?
8. Are you willing to make amends to all the people on your eighth step list or are there some that you canít see yourself making amends to?
9. Do you still hold any serious grudges?
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.
The Twelve Steps