Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Let’s be honest, making a list of people who we have harmed can be a daunting task for anyone. No one wants to think about the mistakes they’ve made in life and how these mistakes have impacted others. Many of us have made poor choices in our active addictions.
For some of us, these choices led to severe consequences that we could not ignore. Others among us appear to have emerged unscathed because we never suffered severe consequences as a result of our drinking. But if we are honest, those poor choices weigh upon our minds, and often hold us back from making progress in our growth journey.
For me, personally, I still harbor a deep sense of guilt and shame for my failures during my active addiction. When I first got sober, I knew that my drinking was affecting my family, but I did not understand the extent of the damage. It’s only with some time, therapy, and perspective that I’ve been able to fully understand how badly I failed as a father when I was drinking.
I was there, but I was not fully present with my son or my wife. This is evidenced when I look back on those early years of my son’s life. I’m not in any of the professional pictures that my wife had made of our little boy. I have only vague recollections of important moments in his early life. I have vague recollections of family trips to the beach. And I have a few painful memories when I chose not to go in tips, because I wouldn’t be able to drink the way I wanted to.
Many people stress the importance of making a thorough list, starting in childhood and up through the present. I’ll be honest. I don’t see a point in this.
While, there are certainly things that I did in my early life that I regret, and I would make amends if I could, the reality of modern life is that I have no connection to many of the people from my childhood. But more importantly, these failures on my part were not caused by or causes of my alcohol addiction. The fact that I punched Jason on the playground when I was in 5th grade had no bearing on my future alcohol use.
So I focused my list on the people I hurt in my active addiction. This is what matters in terms of my recovery. This list is small because my drinking was a private affair. It basically comes down to my family. Thankfully, my drinking never got me in trouble at work or with the law. I never stole anything and I got into any nasty bar fights.
And I am quite willing to make my amends. In fact I do so every day by living my life in a manner that ensures that I am present both physically and emotionally for my family. I don’t do things perfectly, but I have made progress.
2 responses to “Step 8: Focus on What Matters”
I always try to remember, when I’m down on myself for mistakes I made, both before and in recovery, that 1) it takes what it takes to get where we are 2) I recognize it 3) I’ll do whatever it takes to do right… I’m not perfect, and I don’t have to be. I just have to keep getting better.
Nice post, man.
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[…] our journey we’ve presumably learned how to identify patterns of behavior and how they lead us to make mistakes as well as how to make amends for our failures. Step 10 asks us to make practice these skills as we […]
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