August 9, 2013: "August reminds me to have another look at step eight, list of amends and willing to make them." Ordinarily in the living of the twelve steps, we learn a great deal about our history. With step four, many you can write produce volumes of historical information about resentments, anger, and frustration, heart-breaking and depressing episodes in our past. In my experience, it's not the amount of words we compile; it's what we learn from the exercise of expressing the feelings which can be very distressing. And I've met many people who do not write their step four because they have no aptitude for writing at all. That's the good news, whether we write it or speak it, we get to grips with the past and the past becomes a "fearless and fear less inventory of our truth."
Romance and finance and step four! The heat, the fire of our feelings, the venom of heartbreak. We blamed ourselves, we blamed them, and the world went dark and oblivion an escape. As we learn from step four that we were the best we could be back in the day, we also realise that where there are anger and resentment issues, whoever we thought was to blame, they were doing their best and were the best they could be back then in the day just like us. We learn what we did and if we harmed people emotionally and spiritually, and probably financially, there are amends to make. Step eight is making list and willingness. Willingness to forgive our part in matters, make the amends which follow in step nine, without the need to get forgiveness back, indeed that is not the intention, it is just about clearing the wreckage of the past and letting go.
Sometimes over the years, and way before recovery, I had the opportunity to dig deep into my history; it was part of the job I used to do. And as part of the job I used to do, depending on the techniques of helping people discover themselves, for whatever technique I might be using, I had the gift of supervision and analysis from other professionals. I discovered a lot about myself, and made amends to previous partners as I started to understand my own personal conduct. Of course before recovery, in order to do the job, and let go the demons of others shared with me, a bottle of vodka was a good way to clear out their stuff, but only gave me oblivion from the feelings of heartbreak over the years. Many of my partners over the years also had the affliction of oblivion as part of their daily routine. And making amends in recovery without doing harm, well it has always been and remains a difficult area of discovery.
And sometimes over the years in recovery, a trip down memory lane, finding people from the past on social networks is very possible. And a desire to know that previous partners are okay and good with life has been revealing. One thing I do realise, it is not a good idea to start jumping in with good intent and then finding that the consequences of opening the door is like Pandora's Box. When opened, the good bad and ugly will fly out and the only thing left is hope. Quite a while ago, before opening the door to the past, I realised that I had no business delving even with good intent because what happens next disrupts other people's lives and does not do them any good, even if we are full of good intent our motives can be quite selfish and unhelpful.
And step eight is not about further harm to ourselves, in the finance department, when some have asked me what to do about financial irregularities, it does become an issue. It is actually an issue which each person faces if there are financial matters which need to be settled. Sometimes the amend is direct, the consequences quite horrible. But needed to be done because that's what the individual decided. Sometimes the amend is through charity and giving financially and the consequences are as the individual understands in good conscience. Always the amend is in what we do now, living and open, honest existence and listening and sharing and expressing what we do today modestly and carefully. And I was reminded of this when reading tradition seven recently, if we try make an amend with fear, ego and pride, it is not an amend, it is a statement of defiance. The true amend is in courage to change, faith in doing the next right thing and confidence to face the consequences of our actions today.
I guess I might have liked the idea of being a politician, but how could I keep some people rich and some people poor? I would not make a good politician, because it would turn me away from my true values and make me more judgemental. As an individual, the principles in the twelve steps which are underpinned with values of open honest and willing, help me daily. And the twelve traditions which help me in the world at large and also in fellowship underpinned with values of unity service and recovery which fits with me and my outlook of equality and fairness. Whatever I was in the past from road digger to CEO is of no consequence. It is what I do now, my actions which people see and my intentions based on integrity help me on my journey today. The living amend.
Life is always a learning process, and we can fall into bad habits very quickly. They say that, "curiosity kills the cat," and it is fortunate that a cat has nine lives? When it comes to step eight, the list and willingness, and then step nine, we don't have nine lives to learn how to make amends and always checking with another person or more than one person's with experience of step nine is a very good idea. Especially when it comes to amends and curiosity, in this world of easy connection, we need be careful that we do not harm others and create chaos over and over again. Blame: a game with no winners.