My sponsor suggested that I begin making amends with Pete. Because, ironically, I told her that he was the person I felt safest with. (Or at least he was the person on my list who I was the least nervous about approaching.)
A few things my sponsor suggested about making amends-
- It’s not a time to justify or explain your behavior. It’s not about whether what you did was right or wrong, it’s just an acknowledgement that what you did caused pain.
- Don’t go into graphic details, don’t make it lengthy or elaborate. Keep it simple.
- Don’t make excuses or assign blame.
I want to be perfectly clear that I’m not sharing this because I think this is the right thing for everyone to do. As I told a friend recently, the place to do this from is a small place. It’s a place where I am totally confident that I am in no way responsible for Pete’s addiction. None of the things I did to him, or none of the ways I mistreated him were the cause of his addiction. (Despite what he may think…)
And sharing this with him wasn’t something I did to get leverage, or to change him, or to make myself submissive to him or better than him. I did this to clear my own conscience, to take personal responsibility, and to be accountable for bad habits or unkindness.
Nevertheless, I had a lot of fear about sharing this with Pete. I worried that he would hear this laundry list of my indiscretions toward him and he would use it to validate his resentments. I also had a fear that he would see me as less or unworthy.
But ultimately, because he has a least some understanding of recovery, empathy and compassion, this was a truly healing experience for us. He listened with patience and responded with gentleness.
I’m sorry for the times I shamed and persecuted you. I know I have said things that were deliberately hurtful in an effort to control and change you. I understand now that shaming and persecuting were harmful to our relationship and probably very painful for you.
I’m sorry for monitoring you, nagging you, trying to find subtle ways to check up on you or make you feel guilty when you didn’t do something I thought you should have.
I’m sorry for manipulating you. I have flung my pain at you in another effort to control and change you.
I’m sorry for hurtful things I did in an effort to punish you. I’ve withheld love, I’ve been cold and even unkind and I’ve avoided forgiveness because I felt responsible for making you suffer as a consequence.
I’m sorry for letting your addiction be an excuse and justification for anger, irritability and unkindness.
I’m sorry for all the hurtful things I said, or ways I looked at you, or condemned you.
I’m sorry for the times when sharing my experience with others has made you feel humiliated or unsafe.
I’m sorry for any other things I’ve done to try to control or change your behavior including projecting my fears and desperation onto you, making threats and demands, playing the role of victim to demonstrate how wounded I was by you.
I’m sorry for saying unkind things about your mom, and for deliberately nurturing your own resentments toward her in an effort to feed my pride and validate my own resentments. I’m sorry for doing this with other family relationships.
I’m sorry for ignoring your birthday last year and denying the kids any opportunity to celebrate it with you.
I’m sorry for compulsive or impulsive decisions I made that were either confusing or painful for you.
I’m sorry for the pressure I placed on you and responsibility I have given you for my peace and happiness.
I’m sorry for using shame and frustration to make you feel fearful of me. I’m sorry for treating you in a way that made you feel guilty about spending money.
I’m sorry for times when I’ve undermined your parenting by intervening for the kids when you were trying to discipline.
I’m sorry for making my own family a greater priority than your family, and for engaging in conflicts about holidays and family time.
I’m sorry for being deliberately difficult to communicate with at times and from having unreasonable expectations.
I’m sorry for the things I did before we were married, parts of my past that have caused you pain.
I’m sorry that my epic detachment was the source of so much despair and anguish for you.
I’m sorry for the occasional cutting remarks, sarcastic comments, or unfair “jokes” I make about your addiction that belittle you or discredit your efforts.
I’m sorry for the time I’ve spent in self-righteous indignation and the blame I’ve repeatedly thrust on you for difficulties in our marriage.
I’m sorry for situations where I have chosen to spend my time or direct my attention to something less important when you were wanting it.
I’m sorry for all the times I’ve made jokes about you in front of friends or family members that were critical or embarrassing.
I’m sorry for making assumptions about you that were unfounded or unfair.
I’m sorry for waiting for you to fail just so I could be right.