It is more than likely that in the midst of your addiction you have harmed people in some way, shape, or form. In the process of your recovery, you may find an important aspect is making amends to rectify the pain you have caused. Many addicts and alcoholics will refer to this as making amends. In a 12-Step Fellowship, there are two major steps centered on the amend-making procedure. Step 8 focuses on making a list of all persons harmed and becoming willing to make amends to them all, while Step 9 involves making the direct amends to people wherever possible, except when doing so would injure them or others. This is a huge necessary element in tidying up your past and will allow you to be free from the hold your mistakes have over your life.
The act of making amends should be genuine and for the sole purpose of correcting your wrong doing. It can be difficult because you may not take into account that you have hurt another person severely enough to where they no longer wish to make contact with you. It is unfortunate that you may not be able to admit to some people where you were wrong and how you plan on making it as close to right as you possibly can, but try not to get too discouraged over this. You may have to trust that if the amend is meant to be made, it will happen when the time is right. Otherwise, there are alternative ways to repair the damage you have caused, like making living or indirect amends.
Living amends and indirect amends provide you the ability to continue doing the next right thing and stray away from resorting back to old, unhealthy behaviors. There should be living amends involved, even if all the people you have harmed agree to meet with you for your amends anyway. These types of amends will assist you in remaining the changed person you have grown to be. As important as amends may be to the person, they are crucial to you as well. This will help you be able to live with yourself and alleviate some self-hatred.
Apologies vs. Amends
It is imperative not to confuse making amends with apologizing. They simply are not the same thing. An apology involves someone explaining their remorse over a situation, whereas amends provides a person the opportunity to clear the air and improve your behavior to not harm them anymore while making an attempt to right their wrongs. Although they can show humility and care, apologies can be seen more as statements. Amends can be viewed as sincere actions that prove you want to make up for what harm you have caused. An interesting way to look at the difference would be to picture throwing someone else’s ceramic plate to the ground. If you say you are sorry, it does not undo or fix the damage done to the plate. Instead of apologizing for breaking the plate, you should come up with a way to make it up to the person, like buying a new plate for them.
As you might know, the process of recovery is simple, but not always easy. It may be tough for you to face the damage you have done, especially when it involves the people you love most. You just have to trust the process and trudge through any pain you may feel in order to pull through to the end. It’s like the saying, “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” You should also be aware that this is usually not a quick fix and some pain may have been worse for some people than it was for others. In this case, some amends may require life-long commitments depending on the severity of the damage done. Try not to think of this negatively, though. It’s actually a good thing because it will keep you accountable on your road to maintaining a healthy recovery.