Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Conversing Sisters: Step 8, Making Our Lists


Me & Lisa, circa 2009

This post is part of a series of writings I did with my sister Lisa, in 2012. Our thoughts and perspectives reflect a moment in time. They may or may not have changed in the passing years.

Step 8: "Made a list of all people we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all."


Lisa's Thoughts  


Traditionally in AA, this step is worked through accessing your original 4th step. Everyone who was listed on your 4th step, now becomes your 8th step. I was fortunate enough not to know this the first time I worked the steps. It came completely unexpectedly. However, after working steps 5, 6, & 7, I could absolutely see that I had a part in all of my resentments. So, it made sense that I too owed an amends to many of the people I believed had wronged me for so many years.  In addition to those listed on my 4th step, I also added those who were innocently affected by my drinking career. People who I didn’t resent, yet I felt guilt and shame as a result of my behavior with them.

Step 8 was the beginning of true freedom for me.

Although I felt a level of cleanliness with the other steps, when I began to make right my wrongs true freedom from guilt and shame began to seep in. This is the step that allowed me to list people like my children, Liz and Veronica. People that I was never angry with, yet my actions had caused a great deal of harm.

I was anxious to work this step and Step 9 so I could begin living without fear, or so I thought. What I didn’t realize was Steps 8 & 9 are lifelong processes that never end. There are still several people on my original 8th and 9th step that I have not yet had the opportunity to make amends with. However, I do know when the universe aligns it will provide the opportunity just at the right time. It always seems to work that way.

Making the list was easy, becoming willing was difficult with a few people - my ex-husband, for example. However, with much prayer for willingness it came within a short amount of time, and I genuinely felt love, forgiveness and compassion, for even him - and a willingness to clean up my side of the street.

I have found with Step 8, if there is a person I am struggling to make an amends to, I simply pray for that person for two weeks to have everything I have ever wanted and more. Usually, within a few days the willingness comes along with acceptance, and once again I am moved to peace and serenity.

It is not a requirement to make an amends to everyone on your 4th step. Especially those who truly hurt you such as child abuse and things like that. However, I found a whole new level of freedom within myself when I became willing to make an amends to even those people. Not for their actions but for my actions following any circumstance, even if it was sending them negative energy, or for being in a state of unforgiving for any amount of time.

This is a wonderful preparation step for Step 9 and much needed in my opinion. Step 9 takes on a whole new emotional storm - the habit of praying for others and taking a look at my only my part is crucial in moving forward.

Liz’s Response 


Lisa,

It always comes back to the one thing we can control – our behavior.

Another paradox – when living in the shadow, our behavior is the last thing we want to take ownership of. We try and control everything else, but when we take ownership of our behavior and nothing else, we experience an abundance of peace, healing and possibilities.

Love you & hope you are doing much better.

Liz's Thoughts  


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the interconnectedness of humanity. We are all so deeply connected in a myriad of ways that it is inevitable that our actions will affect at least one other, if not multiple people. We are fooling ourselves if we believe that our actions only affect us. Even the most private of decisions have a ripple effect. We are responsible for the ripples we send out into the world, and when those ripples cause destruction we must make an amends.

I recently saw a reading of Everybody in the Gene Pool by Stephen Mo Hanan. It explores this very idea. It's set in heaven and the principal character, a woman, is just minutes from being born on Earth. There's a Guide giving her last minute advice and preparing her for her new life. As the play continues, we learn that this woman has already lived on Earth as a man and is being reincarnated. It is necessary for her to be reincarnated because in her previous life she caused a tremendous amount of pain to humanity through acts of violence and torture. The God of this play is requiring her to go back and make amends by bringing light and love into the world in order to restore balance.



However, we have to be willing to own our actions and see with true eyes what it is we have done in order to bring about healing. I’ve found that the more I see humanity’s interconnectedness, and continue to enlarge my capacity for compassion and empathy, the more willing I am to take accountability for my actions.  When I’m able to humble myself to this state than love is the natural response.

Lisa's Response


Liz,

I love that you talk about the interconnectedness between humans and the ripple effect we have intentionally or not.  When you were describing that play I was wondering if someone had written it about me...lol. JK.

But I do wonder about that sometimes. I believe that there are no accidents or coincidences.


Love you!

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