“Amends…is the beginning of you deciding how you want to be as a person”

Thursday meeting 9/6/18:

            Today Dave spoke.  He comes to our meeting occasionally, but has not spoken to us before.  The first Thursday of the month is supposed to be a step discussion.  This had only been implemented approximately six months prior when a group conscience was called.  Some disgruntled AA declared our meeting had become “too ‘alanony,” and that we needed to follow meeting protocol—step discussion first week, and speakers the remainder of the month.  Dave spoke about Step 9.  He’s a wise old timer—works in a recovery center.  The biggest thing I took away from his talk was when he said that making amends was “the getting rid of the garbage in our lives so we can allow the program to work.”  He said that making an amends was taking responsibility for your actions, and as his sponsor told him, whenever possible a person should make the amends “face to face,” “eyeball to eyeball.”

            When Tom shared (he celebrated 90 days today!), he gave me some food for thought.  Tom had numerous attempts at sobriety–30, 60-day periods, and would relapse.  He’d been in the program awhile, and had accrued much wisdom, however tenuous his sobriety might be.  He told us that his sponsor told him that how you do your amends “is the beginning of you deciding how you want to be as a person,” and obviously in agreement with Dave, “be prepared to buy some plane tickets!”

            I’ve had a hard time with amends in the past.  I had used making a “living amends” an excuse for not actually having to give a verbal amends.  If I’m living an authentic life and doing the next right thing, is it really necessary to actually give an amends?  It is my personal opinion, learning through experience, that yes, it is necessary to make a verbal amends when possible.  As an integral part, it affirms the amends—I am taking responsibility for my actions, AND NOW I’m going to live my life in such a way that aligns with my intentions.  I have also found that it’s powerful to be on the other side of the amends.  My mom, who was attending Alanon at the time, came to me and told me she wanted to make an amends to me.  “Because you know, we have The Steps like you do,” laughing.  I inhaled sharply as she began.  What was she going to say to me?  I felt that I had put her through such suffering…and here she wanted to make an amends to me?  At the end, we hugged and I wanted to hold on forever, I felt such love and appreciation for her.  In effort to understand my struggles, she totally went out of her comfort zone to attend Alanon, and was now sitting here in my bedroom making an amends to me.  There’s such vulnerability in giving an amends, but there’s vulnerability in love.

            Amy spoke and talked about the difficulties many of us have in giving amends, and that so much of it is ego and “our craving for justice.”  We as human beings feel such a need to be right and feel heard.  I believe it is often the feeling of being misunderstood that gets us stuck.  Karen spoke up and talked about her challenge with the need to be heard with her young adult daughters.  She was going through a divorce at the time, and her daughters were having a hard time getting past their mother’s past behavior.  “I so want to defend myself and ‘make them see,’ but I know that’s not my job.  However hard and frustrating it may be, I know I just have to continue to try to do the next right thing and give it up to God.  I pray that God will allow them ‘to see’ in His time, not mine.”

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