"Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all." - The Eight Step of Alcoholics Anonymous
Last month, I said that by the time I had completed the seventh step I had an understanding of humility. This was a vital ingredient to help accomplish step eight. The first inclination for doing step eight was to try and justify some of my actions. With childish thoughts of “well, he started it,” in my mind didn’t deserve my apology.
When I first approached this step I struggled with who should be on my list. I talked to my sponsor about it and he basically confirmed what I already knew. That in our drinking days anyone we had contact with we had harmed, somehow, someway.
The important part about this step is the willingness to make amends. This step needed to be prioritized. First, I needed to concentrate on family, friends, employers, co-workers, and any other person I had direct daily contact with.
Anyone, whom I was, involved with at that time, which included therapists, lawyers, judges, and courts needed to be told the truth 100% of the time. I truly wanted to stay sober, so I had to lay my cards on the table.
The secret to the eighth step is that I was making a list to make myself healthy. I couldn’t think of the future and how my apologies would be accepted. First, I needed to recognize them and acknowledge the wrongs I had done.
For this to work I needed all the humility I could find. This wasn’t about justification or reasons, it was just about the hurt I inflicted on others. As I prepared for the ninth step with family and friends, something happen.
I began writing down the wrongs I had committed five years ago, ten years, my list grow to include people back in grade school. Again, this wasn’t about justification. This was about me becoming healthy.
And every time I remembered something else, in a strange way, I felt a little freer. I had no idea how I would make amends with people from over 20 years ago, but I felt good because I was able to realize it. I was able to understand that what I did was wrong.
When I was done I was grateful to my Higher Power for the strength and courage to complete this step. To really look deep inside and see how much evil had been spread. And while I felt ashamed of what I had done, I also had faith that things someday would be better.