Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Principle behind step six is SELF DISCIPLINE.
LEADER'S SHARE AND STEP QUESTIONS
Well friends on this recovery journey with me, I’m sure having done a step four you’ve 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 I’d harmed were more because I’d 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 because of my messy divorce and financial difficulties that I went through. An important aspect of this step I only learned later on is to let go of the 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 eighth step list. I know I was so busy blaming everyone for the way they had treated me that I never realised that in actual fact I had also hurt them. This is the 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 don’t like ourselves or we 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 the people I’d harmed when I did my first step eight, I realised that because I was the ultimate people pleaser, I’d 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 wasn’t around for me to be able to do that in person..
I knew that I definitely owed my children an amends because, having gone through a messy divorce and a remarriage, I definitely knew that they were a casualty of that, and I also knew once I got honest that I hadn’t been emotionally available to them when I was in the food. But it took me a long time to realise exactly what I’d done and how I’d harmed them. For me one of the greatest gifts I’ve received in this program is that of increasing awareness and becoming teachable. In the past I had spent my life blaming everyone around me for what was wrong in my life, and as a result I’d never accepted responsibility for my part in anything. For the first time in my life I had to look at myself and what I’d 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 I’d done to myself when I was in the food. Besides the damage I did to my body with all the crazy eating, I’d 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 aspect of this step is forgiveness because in step nine, not only do we need to make amends to people but we also need to be able to forgive those who have harmed us, because it’s that resentment and anger towards people that keeps us in the food. I know when I did step eight not only did I need to be willing to forgive others for harm done to me but I also needed to be willing to forgive myself for all the harm I’d done not only to my body but to those that I had harmed either intentionally or unintentionally.
As it says in the OA 12&12 on p. 67
“Here we learn about the healing power of forgiveness, as we discover how to forgive ourselves and others.”
Over time I was slowly able to forgive myself for what I’d done when I was in my disease, but there was one person I never thought I’d be able to forgive and in any event, I never believed he deserved 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:
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
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.
- Why do you think it’s necessary to do Step Eight before you can start improving your relationships with people?
- How do you identify what actually is harm to another person?
- In what ways have you harmed yourself and will you be putting your own name on your Step Eight amends list?
- Have you put the names of people you hurt on the list even they hurt you first?
- Which of your character defects do you think have particularly hurt or injured others?
- Why is forgiveness of the utmost importance in working Step Eight?
- Are you willing to pray daily for those people who have wronged you?
- Are you willing to make amends to all the people on your eighth step list or are there some that you can’t see yourself making amends to?
- 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