Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Make the list!
What brutal honesty it takes to seriously try to list everyone that we have harmed! We have become so dependent on lying to ourselves that this step is impossible unless that dependency on lying has been weakened by the first seven steps! (Actually, by our Higher Power!)
I know, because I am an experienced expert, and have been for a very long time.
I never said “I’m sorry” to anyone, because I have never been wrong, and I have never hurt anyone. <ahem> What a crock. To be human, is to be imperfect, which is to hurt others from time to time, sometimes intentionally sometimes by just plain stupidity, and sometimes ignorance.
The pain I received from others is nothing compared to the pain I have dealt. Thank God that this step has two parts, and to be honest, I could not do the first while thinking of the second. Making amends was too far for me, it was bad enough to admit I had hurt them! That’s where a sponsor can really help.
Just “make a list of all persons you have harmed”, all of them. You can either go in sequence from the day you were born and hurt your mother, or you can start with just a few minutes ago and work backward. It doesn’t matter. If it helps just to pull out your address book, or to go buy a blank address book so you can list people alphabetically, that’s fine.
Whatever tool you need to do this, go use it. Sponsors or mentors can be a great help because they know how hard and how important this half of the step is to your sanity. You may as well put their name on the list, too.
You probably won’t get everyone you have hurt on your initial list. That’s fine. Your higher power is be telling you that the names you have so far are the ones you are ready to deal with now, so let’s continue to the second half of this step.
“Become willing to make amends to them all” is tough. I found it easier to temporarily forget the last word, as I went over each name on my list. I had to fight off being overwhelmed, so I looked at each name, forgetting the others, and focused on them.
It may take you a while, and many cups of coffee with your sponsor. Remember that each step in the right direction is wonderful and magnificent progress. Courage has gotten you this far, and you have battled your fears. Continue to fight the good fight and you can not lose!
I repeat: Continue to fight the good fight and you can not lose!
You do have the option to quit, but you are not able to be defeated. Your Higher Power has everything you need to help you complete this journey. Keep Going!
Just keep going. You will have other names come to you as you dwell on this. As you become ready to handle each incident, each relationship, they will come to mind. You can do this, and you benefit greatly from getting this done.
You may have a shorter list than I do, so it may not be as tough. Don’t worry about it the length. Become willing to make the list and then make it. You and your sanity are worth it.
* The Twelve Steps are reprinted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt the Twelve Steps does not mean that A.A. has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that A.A. agrees with the views expressed herein. A.A. is a program of recovery from alcoholism. Use of the Twelve Steps in connection with programs that are patterned after A.A. but which address other problems does not imply otherwise.
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