Today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and it seems to me a good day to talk about making amends.
The idea of making amends confused me in the early days of my sobriety. I knew I was supposed to do it, but I really had no idea of what to do or how to go about it. I equated it with saying “I’m sorry.” I was well-practiced at that, as most addicts are, but somehow it didn’t seem like enough. That was how I went about it, though, and pretty quickly. I suppose I had a sponsor, but I wasn’t big on taking advantage of sponsorship (or taking direction), and I saw recovery as more or less an event, rather than a process. Thus I was gung ho, ready to go — and far from being in the know.
Tomorrow is Easter, and the third day of Passover. Many of us will be visiting with relatives, or we may be living at home. There will probably be some pressure to attend church, or temple during the coming week, and many of us have developed aversions to the religious practices of our families, for a variety of reasons that aren’t worth delving into here.
However, those of us who are involved in 12-step programs are in the process of making, or preparing to make, amends. Even though we may have our reservations, wouldn’t it be a wonderful surprise for our families if we tried to participate in the celebrations?
It wouldn’t cost us anything, really. Our “principles” were formed in our addictions, and such an endeavor will give us a chance to reevaluate them in the light of sobriety and clear thinking. We can tighten it up and “act as if” for a couple of hours.
I wrote in a previous post (the 2nd one down, I believe) about things that we need to accomplish before undertaking to make amends to others. Merriam-Webster.com defines amends as compensation for a loss or injury, as do most dictionaries that I’ve checked. To make amends is to do more than simply say, “I’m sorry.” If something is serious enough to require amends, it is serious enough to consider carefully how the amends is to be made. Continue reading →
Before we start to make amends we need to honestly face the impact that our addictions have had on others. This isn’t something that we can do right off the bat. In early recovery we are still in denial about many of the effects our using had on ourselves, let alone other folks. Yes, there are obvious things: financial damage, emotional damage, abandonment, infidelities of various kinds, lack of empathy, inability to fill roles in the family and elsewhere, dishonesty and so forth, but there are other, more specific and far more subtle things that may even have affected the people in our lives more than the obvious ones. Continue reading →
I often hear newcomers, people who haven’t yet completed a 4th or 5th Step, talking about how they made amends for this and that in their lives. While I certainly admire anyone who is trying to clear up some of the wreckage of the past, I sometimes wonder about their concept of amends. Since the holidays are coming up and conversations with family members and old friends may be imminent, I thought I might make a few comments about amends and the 9th Step. Continue reading →