Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all."
The author writes about how when she first entered recovery for her addictions, her list for Step 8 had glaring wrongs she had done. When she got to the step in her Codependency, it was foggy and vague with a current of victimization and powerlessness running through it. She wondered how she would not be even more victimized running around apologizing to these people she felt had hurt her in the first place. She has spent so much time apologizing and feeling guilty for anything and everything already. How can this be done to help us heal?
Making Our Lists
The author wants us to start this step by making a list of who has harmed us. She states that she realizes this is the opposite of what we usually do, but she has plans for the list later. We have been hurt by others and she would like us to write down any and all of them, friends, neighbors, family, lovers, work, anyone you can think of - anyone who owes us an amend. We should take our time and try to be as thorough as possible, this list is for us and our healing.
Once finished, set the list aside and start on the list of people we have harmed. It may help to pray for guidance and help with this list and do not worry about any upcoming apologies or looking foolish. Focus on making the list. This portion of the chapter gives some good things to help identify who belongs on the list, I hope readers take the opportunity go through it.
Be gentle with yourself, don't wallow in guilt. Don't focus on the other person's behaviors. Do not obsess or make up stories, simply focus on your behavior and put people on the list.
Next is our financial list. Are there people we own money due to our codependent behaviors? As we work on these lists we need to strive for a peaceful, balanced place. If we become anxious or overwhelmed we should take a break and come back to the list when we are in a better place of compassion and understanding for ourselves. This step is not about feeling guilt or shame, it is about healing from them.
As Codependents we often feel unearned guilt for things we haven't done. If this becomes a problem during this process, perhaps we need to make another list for those people we have not harmed but feel guilt about anyway.
We need to be specific about our behaviors on this list and really focus only on our parts. We forget about the other person and take responsibility for ourselves.
There is one last list she would like us to complete. It may be the most important list for some of us. This list will contain harm we have done to ourselves. "Every behavior we list as codependent is in truth a wrong done toward ourselves." We are hurting ourselves when we are not taking care of ourselves, allowing ourselves to be neglected or abused. Not loving ourselves and believing we are bad or deserve to be treated the way we are treated at times is a harm we are doing to ourselves. "Allowing others to treat us badly inevitably leads to resentment toward the other person. We need to deal with this resentment, but we also need to be willing to make amends to ourselves for not treating ourselves with the respect we deserve."
She also states that feeling guilty and wanting to apologize for taking care of ourselves, living our own lives, and not allowing others to control us is wrong. "Saying no, setting a limit, not allowing ourselves to be used or abused, saying how we feel, taking care of ourselves, and beginning or continuing on a recovery course are not wrongs we have done."
Becoming willing means that we let go of our defenses and seek peace and healing in our relationships. We may feel justified in our resentments and the author remembers wanting to simply isolate. But that is not a comfortable thing to do. It is not healing or being connected with those around us. This process lets us have better relationship and be more connected with the world around us and our Higher Power.
Our pasts led us here and it has not been a mistake. There are lessons to learn from every relationship we have had, even the most painful ones. "Some have come to show me what I don't want. Some are here to show me what I do want." Some say that our relationships are a mirror of ourselves. Letting go of the guilt, shame, and resentments give us the key to unlocking the lessons they have to offer. Achieving this starts with willingness. Willingness to make amends and heal ourselves and our relationships.
Becoming willing means becoming ready to open our hearts to people while still taking care of ourselves. It is the beginning of owning our own power and taking responsibility for ourselves and our behaviors.
Victims No More
The author explains that when she started this process all she could see was the pain and suffering she had experienced at the hands of others. "The thought of apologizing to anyone was out of the question. It felt like I would be apologizing to people for them hurting me." We don't have to do that right away. We can spend some time healing and process our pain and grief, perhaps even spending a little time on self-pity. After, we will gradually be ready to look at our own part in these relationships.
Through this practice we can start to see that our relationships are mirrors of where we currently are. We can begin to see where people are not open with us, control us, or are dependant on us and identify our own similar behaviors. We tend to attract relationships that reflect where we are and if we do not learn the lessons they have to offer, we keep repeating those relationships over and over.
We are given the opportunity to become willing to forgive ourselves and others and be forgiven. "Not only will our hearts be opened further, so will our eyes. We will learn what we need to learn - about ourselves. We will be free to let go of our pasts and move into a better future."
You do not need to worry about doing this step perfectly, simply create the lists and become willing. The rest will take care of itself. It does not need to happen quickly, when you are ready you will know, things will present themselves.
1. Have you started your list yet? Have you made a mental list of the people you believe you have harmed?
2. Would you like peace and healing in your relationship, even in those you don't wish to maintain? What are the barriers to healing that are still within you?
3. What are the relationships, past or present, that bother you the most?
__________________ Live your joy,
Go against the grain.
Don’t be made timid by worried rejection.
Let nature’s curious wisdom fill you.
Let the world’s mystical heritage guide you.
Paint your canvasses,
play your tunes.
Last edited by Ann; 04-06-2013 at 07:21 AM.