“Make a list of people we have harmed, and become willing to make amends.”
This post continues our series on clean and sober living through the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous. Step 8 of AA involves repairing your personal relationships. The work you do in this step will provide you with a blueprint to begin repairing some of the damage that you have caused while drinking or using. It is a complex task, but with all the work you have done so far, you are up to it. The point of making these amends is to help you create a plan that supports healthy relationships going forward.
Step 8 Is About Restitution
As a result of working step 7, you will likely have discovered the healing power of forgiveness. You may have felt a need to reach out and to try to repair the relationships you have broken along the way. When making amends, you are essentially asking those you have harmed to forgive you. Whether that means offering an apology, paying back money owed or some other form of atonement, any kind of harm that you have caused as a result of your drinking should be a part of your plan to make amends.
You’ve Hurt Others As Much As Yourself
Once you’ve realized that the hurt you’ve caused is not just one-sided, you are ready to make your list. This list should have two columns: those who you need to apologize to and those you need to forgive. Forgiveness is just as important in step 8, as much of what has brought you to this stage has been caused by resentments you may have held for years. Don’t be surprised if some of the same names appear in both columns. If step 4 was an exercise in personal housekeeping, step 8 of AA is about social housekeeping. We are cleaning up all the residual guilt, sadness, hurt, pain, fear and resentment that we have built up inside ourselves—feelings that are attached to our past misdeeds.
You will see that it isn’t enough to forgive yourself. If there are others involved in your hurt and resentment, they will always be an obstacle to your recovery until you give them the same attention. Once you have addressed each and every individual on your list, you have a good opportunity to avoid repeating the mistakes you’ve made in the past.
The Easiest Step?
Completing step 8 is considered by some to be the easiest step of alcoholics anonymous to work. After all, you are only making a list. Through all the soul searching you have done so far, you should be able to think clearly about the words, deeds, and actions that have brought you to this place, this moment. No matter how easy it seems, don’t make the mistake of getting too complacent: the wording of the step itself demands that you make a list of ALL the people you have harmed, and be willing to make amends to ALL of them. Be sure that you are being completely honest about everything that has come to pass thus far, and no matter how painful or uncomfortable, include it. Without an honest appraisal in step 8, you will not be able to complete step 9.
Clean & Sober Living and the 12 Step Program
Clean and sober living goes hand in hand with the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. If you are struggling to stay sober and motivated to succeed, a sober living home may be right for you. The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation provides sober living residences in the beautiful coastal region of Charleston, SC. We would love to talk to you about how we can help.