CLEAN UP:

STEP 38

Make a List of All

the People We have

Hurt, and Become

Willing To

Make Amends

In our efforts to survive previous hurt, we hurt others. This is not an easy idea to come to terms with but we can, and will, make amends which will redress things we have done to others for which we feel ashamed. This is a commitment to our own personal growth. For many of us who were in pain, we admitted in previous steps that we stole, took drugs, drank to excess or mistreated our friends and family. Having had this realization, it’s clear that we need to restore our own house to order.

 

For many of us, however, the list is hazy. Our own sense of having been the victim leaves us asking the question: why should I make amends to anyone else? The following question may then be: won’t making amends to others simply make me into more of a victim? The idea that we need to make any amends at all might leave us confused and enraged.

 

This is about putting right the wrongs of the past, including those wrongs to ourselves. It’s about digging deep and asking ourselves for a change of heart so that we may be healed. It’s about finding willingness - through humility - to put right all the things we feel bad, guilty or ashamed about. Then moving forward by opening new doors that await us.

 

We are entering new territory: a life without anxiety or shame. We are looking to heal our broken relationships and stop feeling like a victim. We are finally stepping off the Drama Triangle and no longer willing to stay addicted to chaos. We now look at two things: making a list, and, becoming willing to make amends. We don’t concern ourselves with actually making any amends at this stage; just make the list and become willing.

 

EXERCISE

 

We make a list of all those people we have harmed. We do this with our heads held high. We shun guilt and anxiety because this is the path to salvation. We ask our Higher Power to guide us through this process. We call on the Higher Power’s grace to remind us of people we need to make amends to.

 

‘Me’

 

The first person we put on the list is ‘me’. We are usually the person we have harmed the most. We didn’t intentionally do this, but with our self judgment and shame, living in a fantasy, repressing feelings, neglecting our well being, abusing our bodies, being too hard on ourselves, not taking responsibility for our needs or being too demanding, we definitely harmed ourselves.

 

Even when we were the victim we played a part. We assimilated others’ beliefs about us, believed others’ lies, allowed others to use us for sex, allowed others to talk down to us, let ourselves be used in others’ chaotic lives by rescuing people we thought we loved, and we didn’t stand up for ourselves in countless scenarios when we had a choice.

 

We didn’t stay on our side of the street. We chose to get involved in others’ lives because it provided a distraction from our own pain. We veered into their lane and got involved when we had no business to. We wrung our hands with anxiety when someone else’s life wasn’t going well (addicts, alcoholics, depressives, gamblers etc.). We tried to fix them, and it never worked.

 

It’s bad enough that we were neglected, abandoned or abused as a child. Now that we have come to the realization this isn’t normal and it wasn’t our fault, we have no excuse to continue to treat ourselves in the same way we were treated as children. The onus is on us now to make amends to that small part of us that still suffers.

 

Some other suggestions of people we need to make amends to:

 

  • Our Children

  • Our Spouses

  • Our Partners

  • Our Siblings

  • Our Parents

  • Our Friends

  • Our Colleagues

  • Other Family Members

  • Neighbors

  • Creditors – those we owe money to

 

Some of us struggle with putting our parents on the list. We remember the abuse or neglect we suffered as children and ask ‘how can I make amends to someone who treated me so badly? Surely they should be making amends to me?’ However, waiting for them to change and expecting them to change is a fantasy that only comes true when the parent in question has done some therapy or healing work themselves. To expect them to be different than they are only serves to build up resentment inside us.

 

In this step we look at how we have been abusive to them. Perhaps we gave up on them, treated them with contempt, abandoned them or tried to get even with them. If we acted out any of these behaviors there is a strong chance we have also acted them out with other people, including our own children.

 

Making the list of persons we have harmed is not easy, but it is our chance to change. It takes courage to stay in our traffic lane when we can see others trying to take advantage of us. We may want retribution, but we also want change. This program is asking us to free our parents to their Higher Power and allow us to concentrate on our path because we are the ones looking for the Miracles.

 

A gentle reminder, at this point we are only making a list, we are not making the amends. There will be some people to whom we want to make amends, but we know it would be unsafe. We still put them on the list. The people on your list will fit into one of these categories:

 

Will definitely make amends

Might make amends someday

Might make amends if it seems right

Will never make amends

 

Fill in the following amends list: