…on the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a list of all people they had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them…
FINALLY! This is the Step in which everyone awaits as we have worked through previous Steps and THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY TO DO TOGETHER. But don’t get your hopes up people, there are rules, you don’t just start spouting out apologies thinking that 1) it’s going to make everything ok, or 2) you can apologize to everyone you’ve ever done wrong to (we’ll talk more about this in Step 9). Note to family: You are not immune to this step because you feel you’ve wronged no one, even the person that you’re doing these Steps for. You have. We all have. And let’s just be honest, we don’t always know.
Here are the rules: “The Big Book” (and other literature, including this worksheet to assist in working through both Steps 8 & 9) clumps Steps 8 & 9 together, basically. To complete a true amends, you need to revisit Steps 4 and 5. Remember how I said that these Steps are “building blocks” or “stepping stones”? Time to reflect on some of those moments that you did something that you know is wrong, decide whether or not you have the ability and the humility to go to this person, say aloud what it is that you did wrong and ask them for forgiveness.
There’s a whole lot of people out there waiting for apologies that are never going to come. Imagine if you could remove that weight from someone’s shoulders. Right that wrong. Treat every day as a new day and a new opportunity to really live the Steps. Embody the Higher Power and better person that you’ve become. Humble yourself and ask for forgiveness and know that, no matter what happened or how sincere you are, you might not get that forgiveness.
So, since I’m already giving the Cliff Notes version of these Steps, I want to throw out the first bit on how to gather your thoughts and prioritize things that have happened and what you feel you need to make an amends. Follow the link to the worksheets I’ve provided, they will give you some guidance on where to start with this process because it can seem overwhelming at first.
There should feel like you want to start anywhere and everywhere, but it shouldn’t feel like you’re not sure what you’ve done wrong. If you feel like that, go back to the beginning and start over. I’m not saying that you’re someone without a conscious (Hell, I don’t know you, maybe you are without conscious), but I’m saying that you haven’t truly committed to the Steps and done a true moral and fearless inventory. So go back. If you’re unsure, it’s better to be safe than to cause further harm to someone else or yourself.
Here’s the thing: I’m saying, “what you feel you need to make an amends” for a reason. If you don’t feel you should apologize for that time you called your sister-in-law a “bitch” (or worse), then don’t. It won’t be sincere. It will be a waste of time (at the least) and/or more damaging (at the most). We’ll get to more of that in Step 9, i.e., when NOT to do Step 8. But Step 8 doesn’t count for shit if you haven’t been doing the work up to this point, learning about yourself, knowing who you are as is and as was once upon a time, and looked at the people, places, and things around you that have been tarnished by your use.
I promise you that, if you haven’t done those things to really dig down deep, Step 8 won’t do anything for you and it certainly won’t do anything for anyone else. And that’s the point: Other people. This isn’t about your needs first. This isn’t about you making yourself feel better. This is about lifting the weight, the hurt, the pain, and the suffering from others. Please share your own experiences below to help yourself and others in their journey.
All pics are provided through Adobe Stock and FreePik. Title pic was designed using Canva.