This week’s guest blogger, Rose Landes, writes about the importance of making amends. For parents and for their loved ones in recovery, there is a point when each has to make amends to oneself. It’s not easy, but it is an incredible turning point on this journey from addiction to recovery.
As strange as it may sound, I looked forward to Step 9. In a 12-step program this is the step where you attempt to clean your side of the street and accept responsibility for the harm you’ve caused. Amends provide the bridge to help rebuild relationships. Typically people are not fond of this step.
For an addict, the word “sorry” has been an empty promise that we have made too many times. Even though we truly mean it, in that moment, we are unable to keep our word in the face of addiction.
When I sat down with my 12-step sponsor, I was nervous and unsure of myself, questioning if I had done it right ie-(perfectionist)– shocker right! My sponsor has reminded me over and over, there is no perfect way to do the steps. As I went over my list I felt relief as I could finally let go and move forward from my past. I was making things right.
When I got through my list my sponsor paused, looking at me she said “Do you think you forgot someone?”
What? I panicked I had wracked my brain writing this list, who could I have missed?
She looked at me waiting, and it dawned on me. Who did I hate the most? Who did I punish on a regular basis?
Me—I was filled with self loathing and disgust after years of self destructive behavior. I really did owe an amends to myself.
What was stopping me? Well, the reality is, I was not ready to forgive myself.
An Amends To Myself
Before I even went to treatment, I realized that how I felt, thought, and treated myself usually mirrored how I interacted with those around me. What I mean is that how I treated myself, was how I treated anyone who was in my life.
I had to forgive myself to complete this step.
My sponsor encouraged me to write this amends. I spent a couple of days coming up with excuses why this was not needed in my case. Imagine that, me, thinking I was unique. I’m not an alcoholic, right? I still wanted to punish myself, as if somehow, this would make up for all the pain I had created in the lives of those I loved.
I worked my way through my amends list starting with my family, children and close friends. As I repaired the wreckage in my past I began to feel this sense of peace that I really can’t explain. Other than to say I had a glimpse of what serenity is. My family has encouraged me to continue doing what I am doing. They just want to see me happy. To be a functioning member of society that can contribute to life and not take everything for granted. They all just wanted to see me reach the potential I had wasted for so long. As for my children they just want to see me happy and present.
Their reactions helped me see my value as a person. If they could accept my apology why couldn’t I accept one to myself? And so I began the process of forgiving myself. I say process because it is an ongoing everyday thing. I have to learn a new way of thinking about myself.
Then It Clicked!
I wrote my list: Painful is putting it lightly. It hurt to see on paper the damage I intentionally did to myself. No wonder I hurt those around me. I had no idea how to love myself. I spent years doing things to make sure that I was unlovable and that I lived up to the lies I told myself. In the end, the list gave me an idea of what I needed to work on. I had to make a commitment to myself to not repeat them.
That is the most important part. We are saying that moving forward you will make an effort to change and not repeat your mistakes.
Obviously I don’t always follow through or make the right choice. That’s ok and this is where the cheesy slogans of my 12-step program help me see that what it’s really about. Progress and not perfection.
Once I did this, I had a new awareness of how I treated myself on a daily basis. My sponsor asked me if the way I treated myself was how I would treat a best friend. I really heard that, and it did make a difference.
Why An Amends To Myself Was The Most Important
Making that amends began to change the way I saw and treated myself. When you are treating yourself with respect, you tend to treat others with respect, as well. With this newfound respect for myself. I was now, able to do all those “self” affirmations they teach you in treatment. What followed was beautiful, I no longer was a “taker” in life. Instead I began to see the reward of being a “giver”. The most important effect it had, was I finally set boundaries with myself and others. No longer did I have to tolerate others treating me badly. Without guilt I could be assertive and protect myself.
Making An Amends To Yourself
Do you owe yourself an amends? I think that is an important question you should ask yourself. From my experience if you are struggling with self destructive behaviour, then maybe you should consider this. For me this was a life changing decision. I have a taste of what it means to be content with life and yourself.
Think about how you treat yourself, or how you have treated yourself in the past. Make a living amends by being kind to yourself, and see the difference it makes in your life.
Rose Landes is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.
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