The eighth step in any 12 Step Program is all about making amends to those we’ve hurt. The path of addiction is a treacherous one, and more often than not, addicts leave a lot of “casualties” in their wake. Many friendships are torn or even lost altogether. Some families are split apart or harmed. Perhaps you can relate because you’ve lost some people whom you considered to be dear friends or loved ones, and it was all because of the power your addiction held over your life.
Now that you’re on the path toward recovery, you’ve come to this all-important eighth step. It’s challenging, but it is vital to your success. The question is, how do you go about making amends? Where do you even begin when the hurt has been so great and the pain has been almost unbearable?
The Difference Between Making Amends and Apologizing
In your life as an addict, you have probably said a countless number of “I’m sorry’s” to the people you hurt. Apologizing was easy, and sometimes you meant it, but most of the time you didn’t. Looking back, it’s easy to see that saying you were sorry was an easy way of smoothing things over, and it worked for a little while. Life was calm again, your friend or family member was happy with you…until you made another mistake. Before too long, “I’m sorry” just wasn’t good enough.
Making amends involves actually doing something physical to make things right again. Your actions will demonstrate your willingness to turn them around and because you’re doing something, you’re proving that you really mean your apology.
Making Your List
Making your list of people you need to make amends with is hard and it’s probably going to be a very emotional experience for you. In recovery, you’ve learned the importance of coming to terms with what you have done wrong and you’ve admitted your shortcomings to God and others. Even so, when you make your list, you’re going to force yourself to think of those wrongs all over again. Pain is sometimes a part of any healing process, and the same is true for addiction. Take some time to make a list of the people you need to make things right with, and write down exactly what you plan to do. For example, if you stole money from your mother to pay for drugs, write down an estimate of how much you took and how you will come up with the money to pay her back.
Once you’ve made your list and you have a plan in place, the next step is to take action. You will want to be prepared for the variety of reactions you might receive. You may be met with negative reactions. Be kind in your responses and don’t justify the wrongs you did. In time, those people may come around and you’ll have another opportunity. Embrace the ones who welcome your willingness to change, and be patient for the ones who are hesitant.
If you would like more information about beginning your own journey toward recovering from addiction, contact us.