Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Step Nine, Part Two---Living Amends

This might be the first lesson about amends: you can't take it back, you can't fix what you broke....you don't totally repair the damage you've done to someone's life....no one act can overturn all our past transgressions
What mattered was the movement towards healing. When (my brothers) saw over the coming years that I had changed my way of living, I think this meant more to them than the small acts of contrition I'd performed.
Kevin Griffin, One Breath at a Time

The other day Anonymous posted a comment in which she said her "recovering/not recovering" alcoholic husband once said to her, "I know you'll always forgive me." That sounds like the remark of someone who really doesn't understand and accept the most important part of Step Nine---we follow up our verbal amends by changing our behavior and making a concerted effort not to do the same thing again and again. Otherwise, our amends don't really mean very much, especially to our partners.

As Kevin Griffin says, we can't fix what we've broken, we can't completely repair the damage we've done to our partner's life. This doesn't mean that we are to wallow in guilt for the rest of our lives about what we've done; but it does mean that repairing our closest relationships will require not only a great deal of work on our part, but also a lot patience and willingness to keep at it when our partner fails to respond quickly in a positive manner to our efforts to change. Just as we learn in 12-Step programs that recovery is a lifelong, sometimes arduous process, so we must realize that healing a relationship damaged by addiction requires changing the way we relate to our partner---and that requires much more active, ongoing work than simply acknowledging the harm we have done to our partner and to the relationship. We have to live our amends, not merely express them.


Anonymous said...

Sorry doctor a, I need to clarify what I wrote. He was not in recovery when he made that statement. This was during his drinking days, spoken after another binge. I agree totally with what you wrote on living amends. He is now in very early recovery, and at times I feel like I am too, all over again.

Lapa said...

I' a doctor too.