Alcoholics Anonymous Blog Video August 1 2014
Step eight: "made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to all." Step eight it is suggested is the beginning of the end of isolation. So what was I doing all the way to step eight in the 12 steps and 12 traditions? I was not living in isolation, I was busy reading all the steps, all the traditions, reading the big book of AA, reading anything which might enlighten me, and watching everything around me, most of which seemed to go contrary to the suggestions within Fellowship. Just because I was on a mission to improve my life, it did not mean the rest of the world or anyone outside Fellowship had a clue what they were doing. Fortunately somebody said early in my recovery: "if you want a happy life, judge not, or you have every excuse to go back to the old ways of living."
And developing our outlook of being open honest and willing to change, when the rest of the world including all the people we have known over the years might well be stuck in the same old same old, it does take a lot of time to learn how to come out of isolation and start living a new way of life. I could not be contained within the Fellowship, and learn how to live a new life in recovery if I did not come out of isolation. Out into full public glare, where people who knew me from the past as a highly productive person, who had then dropped off the map, had a nervous breakdown and simply disappeared. A "burnt out case," no longer able to do all the things I used to do, frightened by the world and being seen, and becoming an active alcoholic. No wonder the glare of being open, honest and willing to change, and share this new outlook of sober one day at a time could have been a real difficulty in recovery. Fortunately just about everyone I knew from back in the day realised I was an alcoholic, or at least burnt out and useless, so any emergence into daylight and their scrutiny would be a bit of a surprise. There were quite a few who realised that alcoholism is a disease, and those fortunate persons had nothing to do with me ever again, which turned out to be a huge advantage to me, their prejudice kept me out of their company very thankfully.
The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous provides a safe place to see how the insanity of alcoholism impacts on other people, simply because everyone shares their experience, strength and hope to whatever degree of honesty they are capable of sharing on the day. So even though we share experience strength and hope within Fellowship, understanding the usefulness of what people share still requires a little bit of understanding by each person. Just because I share a story which is humorous and to a degree honest, it is likely that I might have embellished certain parts of the story for humorous effect. We all need to learn to laugh and cry in recovery, and although these days the tall parts of my stories are a lot lower, and the lower parts of my stories are not quite so low, it can be difficult to give a completely accurate account through experience, strength and hope and any day, depending on my mood and my recollections. Acceptance of my historical recollections being impartial, or prejudiced and sometimes unfavourable to me and other people is just the way it is. The degree of truthfulness, the usefulness of anything we hear is completely contingent on the current conditions today.
Making a list of amends to people we have harmed, is the first part of the step. The second part of the step is then being willing to make them. And it is to everyone that we become willing to make amends without exceptions. So unless I actually take responsibility for the part I have in previous living and where amends need to be made, if I do not own up to my part in it, then it is likely that I will be targeting amends at people I really don't like any more, and as a consequence I am guilty of selective amnesia around what I did, rather than what they did. The steps are all part of self-appraisal, self-acceptance, acceptance of the rights and wrongs done by me, rather than a challenge to other people and what they did.
It is not easy to look back in isolation, and it is not easy to keep a grudge going, unless of course you use the 12 steps to judge other people. If the 12 steps are used for self-discovery and enlightenment, all good. If the 12 steps are used to appraise others and judge them, nothing of much good is likely to happen, indeed it can lead to very dark thoughts indeed.
Step Eight Reading 12 And 12
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