In our efforts to survive previous hurt, we have hurt others. This is not an easy idea to come to terms with but we can, and will, as a commitment to our own personal growth. For many of us who were in pain, we admitted in previous Steps that we stole, took drugs, drank to excess or mistreated our friends and family. Having had this realization it’s clear that we need to make amends.
For many of us, however, the list is hazy. Our own sense of having been the victim leaves us asking the question: why should I make amends to anyone else? The following question may then be: won’t making amends to others simply make me into more of a victim? The idea that we need to make any amends at all might leave us confused and enraged.
This is about putting right the wrongs of the past, including to ourselves. It’s about digging deep and asking ourselves for a change of heart so that we may be healed. It’s about finding willingness - through humility - to put right all the things we feel bad, guilty or ashamed about. Then moving forwards by opening new doors waiting for us.
We are entering new territory: a life without anxiety or shame. We are looking to heal our broken relationships and stop feeling like a victim. We are finally stepping off the Drama Triangle and no longer willing to stay addicted to chaos. We now look at two things: making a list, and, become willing to make amends. We don’t concern ourselves about actually making any amends at this stage; just making the list and become willing.
We make a list of all those people we have harmed. We do this with our heads held high. We shun guilt and anxiety because this is the path to salvation. We ask our Higher Power to guide us through this process. We call on the Higher Power’s grace to remind us of people we need to make amends to.
The first person we put on the list is ‘me’. We are usually the person we have harmed the most. We didn’t intentionally do this but with our self judgment and shame, living in a fantasy, repressing feelings, neglecting our well being, abusing our bodies, being too hard on ourselves, not taking responsibility for our needs or being too demanding, we definitely harmed ourselves.
Even when we were the victim we played a part. We assimilated others’ beliefs about us, believed others’ lies, allowed others to use us for sex, allowed others to talk down to us, let ourselves be used in others’ chaotic lives by rescuing people we thought we loved and didn’t stand up for ourselves in countless scenarios when we had a choice.
We didn’t stay on our side of the street. We chose to get involved in others’ lives because it provided a distraction from our own pain. We veered into their lane and got involved that we had no business getting involved in. We wrung our hands with anxiety when someone else’s life wasn’t going too well (addicts, alcoholics, depressives, gamblers etc.). We tried to fix them and it never worked.
It’s bad enough that we were neglected, abandoned or abused as a child. Now we have come to the realization that this wasn’t normal and it wasn’t our fault, we have no excuse for continuing to treat ourselves in the same way we were treated as children. There is now the onus on us to make amends to that small part of us who still suffers.
Some other suggestions of people we need to make amends to:
Other Family Members
Creditors – those we owe money to.
Some of us struggle with putting our parents on the list. We remember the abuse or neglect we suffered as children and ask ‘how can I make amends to someone who treated me so badly? Surely they should be making amends to me?’ However, we will only say that if we are waiting for them to change and, to expect them to change is a fantasy that only comes true when the parent in question has done some therapy or healing work himself or herself. To expect them to be different to how they are only serves to build up resentment inside us.
Now we look at how we have been abusive to them. Perhaps we gave up on them, treated them with contempt, abandoned them or tried to get even with them. If we have acted out any of these behaviors there is a strong chance we have also acted them out with other people including our own children.
Making the list of persons we have harmed is not easy but it is our chance to change. It takes courage to stay in our traffic lane when we can see others trying to take advantage of us. We may want retribution but we also want change. This Program is asking us to free our parents to their Higher Power and allow us to concentrate on our path because we are the ones looking for the Miracles.
A gentle reminder, at this point we are only making a list, we are not making the amends. There will be some people to whom we want to make amends but we know it would be unsafe. We still put them on the list but we will have categories that are: