Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video September 3 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"
September 3, 2013: "peace of mind cannot be bought at the expense of others." So how do we get to a point of making amends without doing further harm? The harm done by silence, what we did is what we know, and do they know what we did in the past? Whatever the infidelity, how difficult would it be to tell the truth? Do we leave people in the dark about past actions, and how suspicious were people about our behaviour? Having admitted the exact nature of our wrong doing in step five, what do we have to share a make amends for in step nine? I know I cannot suggest what is right for you, I do know what is right for me and truth needs to be my guide as well as my conscience.
Further harm done, by not telling the truth. Somewhere somehow in some way the truth needs to be addressed and we need to be contrite. I can recall a deep sadness in my life, many many years before recovery where I admitted and accepted that I was in the wrong. And I promptly admitted it. It was an infidelity of a romantic nature, I was driven mad by my feelings of loss even before the loss happened in reality and sought solace by misbehaving badly, I became a cheat. I had been cheated myself in the past and knew exactly how it felt. I was contrite and shared immediately with the person I had harmed. Their grace, summed up, "life is too short." It was a horrible confession by me, and every detail required. I don't know how I was forgiven, it did not stop the inevitable breakup, it did put matters in perspective.
When we are deeply attached to another human being, love does conquer all, at the same time, the consequences can be quite horrible. I would not wish to take away a lifetime of peace and love from another and living a lie would have broken me and broken her. All this was before my brain was completely addled and my values compromised completely. Addiction takes away our moral foundation if we have one, and takes away any morality eventually by the very nature of what addiction does to a human being. We can be contrite and forgiven, the consequences need be what they can become, and that does not mean automatically that we are given a free pass. Nothing is free in this world; everything comes with a cost in the emotional and spiritual economy of living.
If I do not know what is right for me, how can I judge what is right for other people? This is a personal conundrum each person faces all their lives. Good people do bad things, bad people do good things and we are all capable of ugliness one way or another. We do make mistakes, and we may have made promises to ourselves many times about our conduct. And yet the rapacious creditor of addiction will be the ultimate thief and loss of a life lived to truth. Honestly becomes an integral part of who we are in recovery. And sometimes the decision to share the truth, it can have very difficult consequences. For me I would rather face the consequences, and to get perspective, I needed to talk through everything with more than one human being.
If we leave things buried, things will come back to haunt us. In my memories, dreams and recollections even today in my case, certain moments from childhood, growing up and then in the last knockings before drink took away all my sensibilities, there are moments I am not proud of and would wish differently. Just because other people behaving badly, I did not need to join in some of the badness. I did and in the process accelerated my breakdown and rock bottom. For somebody who is basically honest, being dishonest is the worst it can be. For somebody who was never taught honesty, living a dishonest life and then turning a page and becoming honest seems far better. I'm harder on myself than I would ever be on another person. And that is why I needed perspective and counsel from many others one day at a time. Pride and ego I guess play their part in this. Forgiveness is for everyone, although the consequences may be quite different and varied through time.
The road to rock bottom is desperate; the road of redemption is truly difficult. If we have been bad, in our recovery can we say that we won't do it again? One day at a time yes, for a lifetime? No person can say for a lifetime because we do not control or have power over the future. Good intent yes, heaven or hell can happen next. Sober and with a clear head, a Fellowship and good people, certainly redemption is possible today. Many things can be put right, and some things never so because it is too late and we cannot change the past. And one day at a time, our conduct and our actions speak for us and not the intentions we may have.
On another note, listening to another person some time back, I am reminded about boundaries again. Establishing boundaries around our own behaviour, our actions and what we do is important. Boundaries change with different people, places and things. And not all people, places and things are the same. When things go wrong with our personal boundaries, being able to share experience, strength and hope can be very helpful. And obvious boundaries occur the longer we are sober understanding ourselves and other people. We will still make mistakes and this is how we learn. Making brick wall boundaries will let nothing in and nothing out, we will become stuck. If you say to yourself: "I need to establish a boundary around that person, that place and that thing," all good because you have learned you need that boundary. Try not to shut the rest of the world out, judge the rest of the world in the same way or the outlook will be like that in the book "Great Expectations" where anger and resentments are a blight on living.
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