Starting with those who I did not contact, there were good reasons for not doing so. There were those who I hurt so badly that another glimpse of my face would only make it worse. There were those who had disappeared from my life and gone their separate ways, purposely to get away from me. And there are those I did not pursue because so much time had passed that dragging up old stuff would not be productive or healthy.
Some Would Not Accept My Amends
Then there are those who I did contact, but would not accept my amends. My own first cousin was among them. I had hurt her so badly that she just plain refused to deal with me, ignoring calls and letters, interventions by third parties, and uninviting herself to events she knew I would be attending. She ultimately came around, but it was not at my initiative. I managed to make my amends to her, but it took many more years than I expected.
There are those to whom I made amends and who graciously accepted them -- only to reject them later, sort of a delayed reaction thing. In one instance, months after the amends event, he turned on me and cranked out the resentment for things that I thought we had settled. That was over seven years ago and he still resents me to this day, and refuses to speak to me. Too bad, but nothing more I can do.
Benchmarks to Sobriety and Growth
And there are the amends I made to the dead. Lots of folks have passed away since I sobered up, many from my own family. I owed plenty to them, and here they got up and died on me! Well, the posthumous letters worked, or at least seemed to help, and that stuff was taken care of.And finally there are those successful amends that really did happen and were permanent and lasting. There are lots and lots of those. And each time I made one, something special seemed to happen. It was called growth. And the great thing about that growth was that more room seemed to be made in my heart for love and compassion. The amends did not mean that I could continue relationships with these people, but they did mean that I could free myself from burdens of long past. Wonderful things happened to me beyond these amends, great life events that were benchmarks to my sobriety and personal growth.
An Amend Is a Change
What is an amend? The technical answer is an amend is a change. An amend is not an apology. It is a clear and purposeful act designed to clear up a problem from the past. If I harmed someone, and then in the course of working the steps reach a point to make an amend, it is my duty to sit down with the subject and explain fully about substance abuse, my own personal program, what my fears were, and how I have changed as a human being.
If I owe something material, I pay it back, with interest if necessary. If what I owe cannot be measured in gold or other material substance, then I must humbly ask for forgiveness for my indiscretions and go my way. (What price is there for hurt feelings?)
There seems to be so much more I could write about this, but of course, step 9 is an action step, so if you are reading this, maybe instead of spending too much time on it as I am, you might want to call the next person on your list and go for it!