02 March 2014

Making Amends SUUUUUUCKS

I don't know if there is anyone else out there working the 12 steps- if you are- speak up! I'm sinking! I remember slipping into a bad funk when I did Step 4 and it's happening again.  I wish the past really was in the past...

So making amends doesn't really suck. It just sucks if you are a validation junkie like me. I thought (although at the time I would have denied this) if I wrote letters and emails and made phone calls to friends and family members it would be well received.  My sponsor suggested that it might not always go well, and I thought (LYING TO MYSELF)

"Even if it doesn't go well, I'll feel peace. Because I'm taking the high road. I'm the better person."


It definitely required courage- but the kicker is, I was sure I would get a great reward.  I sent out four letters about two weeks ago and got zero response.  (And I'm friends with these women on Facebook. Easy enough right?)

I poured my heart into these letters and I was fully expecting something like this

"Jane! Oh my gosh, your letter came today and made my day. It was so sweet.  It was so brave of you to reach out and share those vulnerable feelings.  But girl- don't worry! I've never thought twice about that. You were always a great friend.  Thank you so much for being so thoughtful.  Love, Friend."

Not only was my letter not important or meaningful enough to them (speculation, hypothesis contrary to fact) but it's quite possible they were annoyed by it, or they hate me.

Fortunately, as soon as feelings of hurt and resentment started to surface I recognized them and realized that I had ridiculous expectations. And I was making this about me.  This isn't a self-esteem building exercise from the outside.  It's an inside job.  It's a clear conscience, which is the most loyal friend of all.

It's time to approach Step 8 the right way, instead of turning it into a contrived way of getting recognition.

"There is a quiet, honest place that this Step takes us to, a place of dropping defenses and pride, a place where we shed victimization. We become willing to clean our slate, in peace and honesty." 
(Melody Beattie)


  1. A few support ideas:
    ~http:// the recovery show.com/ (I adore the podcast) - might give ideas as far as how others deal with being on the receiving end (be patient, they could be in transition w/a different step of the dance!)
    ~Brene Brown's books on shame/guilt/vulnerability are prize for me - she has several clips on youtube (TED, Opera, etc); books: 'I thought it was only me', 'Daring Greatly' - they should be available at a local library. If not, internet clips cover the generals. For this post, check out the video on 'who deserves to hear your shame story' - http:// youtu.be /s8Pp7QB6GrE
    ~I'm going through an online class called "Listen to your Heart and Success will follow" - it ironically gives the same type of steps
    Here are 10 action steps to get complete with the past. A little planning can help before you take the plunge.

    1. Write letters: Do not send these letters, but instead do something with them that leads you to feel you are getting rid of the feelings.
    2. Tell your story (See Brene Brown reference above!) Your job is to communicate and be listened to attentively.
    3. Talk to the right person. Do this only if you are sure the person will be able to listen to you in the same way as in #2.
    4. Imagine talking to the right person.
    If the conversation in #3 above is not feasible, have this conversation in your imagination. Give the conversation as much time and undivided attention as you would give a real conversation. This works best as a closed eye meditation/visualization.

    5. Role play.
    Ask a trusted friend to role-play the incomplete situation with you or imagine being back in the situation. Use the role play to act out how you wish you had responded. Repeat the role play or imagine again, but this time have the other person act in a way that would have avoided causing the incompletion. Repeat the process over time until you feel complete.

    6. Re-examine.
    Re-examine the situation from the vantage point of the present. How did you grow as a result? Was there a hidden gift in going through the experience? What did you learn as a result of the situation? Repeat until you can feel gratitude toward the situation and the other person.

    7. Own what happened.
    Take responsibility for it and figure out how to prevent a similar situation from happening again. Answer the following questions at length in your journal: How did you contribute to the situation specifically? What motivated you? What did you ignore or not communicate? How will you respond differently next time at each of the key junctures?

    8. Create completion by understanding.
    Look at the other's motivations. You do not have to approve or agree. Simply understand. Answer the following questions at length in your journal: What made his/her actions inevitable? Did he/she have a true choice? What would have had to be different in order for his/her actions to be different?

    9. Repair the damage or loss.
    Actively repair the damage or loss. If something of yours was taken, replace it with an item just as good or better. If you were emotionally hurt, give yourself the kind of support, acknowledgment, love, etc., you wanted from the other person. Ask trusted others to provide you with the emotional support you needed and did not get.

    10. Talk to the spirit of the person.
    Sometimes our relationships go so wrong, and so much hurt is created, that it is difficult to imagine the person giving us the understanding we need to get complete. In these cases, imagine having a conversation with the person's spirit, attentively listening while you say everything you need to say. Even when the person may not be able to hear you, their spirit always will. Repeat this process until you are complete.

    1. Thank you for sharing this. I think I need to apply it to a new Step 8 strategy. It's a great resource! I look forward to looking into the other resources too, I love Brene Brown!

  2. I don't have any advice. Just wanted to say that I'm working the steps too. And actively avoiding step 4. It's all so scary when I've spent my life trying to be right all the time. But that's exactly why I need the steps!

  3. Totally been there! It is so hard, but extremely worth it. I sent out four emails to people that I needed to make amends with. One person responded immediately to my email (which was a huge gift), but the other three people took several weeks to months to write me a response (I had actually given up all hope of receiving responses). Three responses to my emails were positive, but one response was so hurtful. Even though receiving a negative response was hard and the waiting was hard, I would write the emails all over again. I knew, with all of my heart, that the Lord was very pleased with me and my efforts, and that was all that really mattered. I am enough!

    1. Thanks you so much for sharing this- seriously. It was just what I needed to hear!

  4. you are a bigger person than me.... that is seriously couragegous stuff!
    but i imagine very liberating too. and once on the right side of the fence... it might feel so GOOD right? and peaceful.
    hm. i haven't started the steps... i don't really know how to go about it. i'm not actively going to any group right now. though i should. it just felt so weird that first time.