Tonight, we return to an old post, because we have come full circle on a Step, that I wrote about over a year ago, but is relevant, because I heard it mentioned tonight at the Friday meeting, from an old timer.
We return to May 26, 2015 and the post, Now, Later, Maybe, Never:
This post came, amid our Joe and Charlie tapes and Step Nine. Tonight, we read from A.B.S.I. “To Take Responsibility.”
Learning how to live in the greatest peace, partnership, and brotherhood with all men and women, of whatever description, is a moving and fascinating adventure. But every A.A. has found that they can make little headway in this new adventure of living until he first backtracks and really makes an accurate and unsparing survey of the wreckage they have left in their wake.
Some time ago now, I made a phone call to my mother, on the occasion of a death in our family, because I thought it was the right thing to do. I was wrong.
The conversation went the way it did, and ended up in her taking my inventory, and blaming me for all of her problems, and also, all the problems for my brother. I did not get a word in edgewise, and she hung up on me, leaving me to wonder just what the fuck was up with her and why had she turned into a bitter old woman.
A friend with lots of time, likens amends to planting potatos. You put the seeds in the ground and you wait for the plants (read: Crops) to grow. If you dig them up prematurely, there won’t be any vegetables to harvest. So you have to wait out the process, and not act prematurely.
I am an idealistic man with dreams of peace on earth and everybody finally getting along, because we aren’t getting any younger, so I made that call, with the faint hope that I could speak truthfully. Again, that didn’t happen.
I am amid my steps again and working through Step Eight right now. I don’t really have any fresh amends to make. Because I don’t live in that space. The bulk of my amends fall into the Never category.
I believe that if you are going to point the finger at me for all of your problems, then be respectful and allow me room to speak myself.
Another old timer with LOTS of time, spoke too tonight. He has a large family with lots of siblings. When he went to make his amends, he got read his inventory as well. In speaking to his siblings about the past, (everybody being raised in the same house for twenty years) you would imagine that the experience would have been the same for all living under the same roof.
But what he found was that the siblings came out of this discussion looking like they were raised on different planets. With such different perspectives and so on.
I’m willing to listen to people in my family tell me their points of view, but, they, in turn, should afford me the same right to speak my mind as well. Which had never happened to this date.
You just don’t drop your ATOMIC bomb, then run home and hang up on people, so you don’t have to listen to anyone elses rebuttal or explanations.
That is not fair at all. But when has life EVER been fair …
**** **** ****
We return to old words for the rest of tonight’s post …
May 26th, 2015 …
It is said that alcoholism is a three fold disease. Spiritual, Mental and Physical.
In steps One, Two and Three, we realize our powerlessness, we come to believe in a Power Greater than Ourselves, and we decide to turn it over. For many, this might be their first time around with (a) god. But many know who God is, and they have turned away for one reason or another. That solves our spiritual problem.
In Steps Four, Five, Six and Seven, we set to paper all those things that hold us back. Resentments, Guilts, and Fears. After an exhaustive, moral personal inventory, we clear away the wreckage of our pasts. Then we unload it upon someone we trust. We figure out from that inventory our character defects and our shortcomings.
It is also said that we continue to work Six and Seven for the rest of our lives.
That solves our Mental problem.
In Steps Eight and Nine, we make our lists of those we need to make amends to, and prepare to do so, as we are able, with this proviso …
An Amends list is not something to take lightly, depending on how much damage you have done to yourself and others. (read: Family, Friends, Employers etc …)
Many come to this point and balk. So Joe and Charlie give us this tool:
- Make Four lists:
- Those we can make amends to NOW
- Those we could make amends to LATER
- Those whom we could MAYBE make amends to at some point
- And those we will NEVER be able to make amends to
Reading the text out of the Big Book, Bill covers almost every single situation that might turn up for someone working at this juncture of The Work.
Many an old timer took to the work slowly. But it is what it is. Amends cross many areas.
- Family and
At some point in ones sobriety, we should complete this list, in any way possible, because we drank, for some, in any way possible. And if we had to Beg, Rob or Steal it, alcoholics and addicts have done that. It may take a lifetime, but we only have ONE lifetime.
So we better make it a good life, in the end.
I’ve done these lists. There are people on each of these lists. With the dawn of sobriety the second time, I had to make amends to certain people, which I did early on, because I could.
When I got sober the second time, about a month in, I met those friends I ditched opting for a geographic, instead of honesty and respect. Those amends were made directly, face to face.
Let me tell you, that was not easy. It took everything I had to look my friends in the eyes and ask for forgiveness.
With the dawn of Facebook, I made amends to my friends whom I had not seen in many years. Many of my drinking friends, are sober themselves, so that made it a bit easier, because they were in the program, and the amends were mutual and went both ways.
There is one woman, a good friend of mine, who is still in my life today, who WAS in my life through every stage of my life in recovery the First and Second time.
We had THAT discussion.
She forgave me. But to this day, my heart aches, every time I think about her or see activity on Facebook, because I have unfinished business with her. You see, she was the only friend who was financially involved with helping to take care of me when I was really sick, my family had long since backed out of any responsibility or desire to help me.
And she carried me to my geographical move and then she left and went on to her own geographical cure. I was all the way OUT, she was only PARTIALLY the way out.
Life went on. But I owe her more than asking for forgiveness. One day I hope to make full financial restitution to her in my own way, for everything that she did for me. But I have yet to say these words to her, because they have been a long time coming.
Then on the final list, are those who I will NEVER be able to make amends to. Those are the people who walked out of my life for various reasons, (which are all about them, and not about me, but really, it is all about me no matter how you cut it).
I was an Alcoholic. I was Gay, I was living with AIDS, and I reside in Canada.
All these things are liabilities.
So fuck me for surviving…
We’ve come a long way over the last year or so. Each pass at the steps gives us perspective, insight and then the gift of hindsight. The greater the vision, the greater the effort to sober up.
We grow up when we get sober, and hopefully, we do it right this time.
Maybe NOW, Maybe LATER, MAYBE sometime, and sadly, quite possibly NEVER.
**** **** ****
Steps come up in order for a reason. Every time I come around to this point, I return to old words to see where I am on them, Right Now.
Facebook is still the bane of my existence, but it has proved very helpful for the family who have decided to be IN my life TODAY. And the friends who still call me their friends as well.
I try, every day, to be a good man, making good decisions, and right decisions. I am not the man I was a year ago, or a decade ago. I live in the now. Every day.
I can’t sit here and wait for people who don’t want to be in my life, to get here, because that is wishful thinking. I must go on. The best way I know how.
I love my friends, and my family. Life is beautiful and it would be wasteful to pin ones hopes on reconciliation, when the reality is that it may never come in my lifetime, and maybe, one day, all I will get is to stand over someones grave and have THAT discussion I want to have now.
The dead are just that dead.
More to come, stay tuned …