For many addicts in recovery and participating in 12-step programs or rehab, steps eight and nine are the most dreaded. You are expected to list everyone you wronged because of your addiction and then make amends. To revisit the past and the people you hurt is a daunting task. How addiction affects the family is major, and facing family members who disowned you can be the scariest part.
Even if you aren’t participating in the 12 steps, making amends can be a powerful way to heal and to strengthen your recovery. When you pay back your estranged best friend for the car you wrecked while in an LSD psychosis, you will feel a weight lifted from your heavy shoulders. As you re-forge connections that you obliterated, your life will open up in ways you never expected. It isn’t an easy thing to make amends, so here are some tips to get you started.
- Make a plan. If you aren’t in a 12-step plan, you might not know about step eight, which is the precursor to making amends. Make a list of all the people you hurt and to whom you want to make amends. This is a good planning stage. Give careful thought to each person, how you hurt each one and what you would like to do to make amends. Consider the best way to approach each person before you go for it.
- Make real amends. Making amends is more complicated than a simple apology. If you cheated on a boyfriend or stole his money, a simple sorry is going to be an insult to the harm you caused. Draft a heartfelt apology and then be prepared to pay back what you owe him.
- Plan for indirect amends. Making amends isn’t always as simple as owing someone money and paying it back. If you hurt someone, but not in a tangible way, think of how you can start to make it up to her. Think about what that person might need in her life and how you could provide it. Maybe an old friend needs help getting a job or your parents could use some help around the house. You can even make monetary donations in the name of someone you have wronged. Let them know about it and make it to a charity that means something to that person.
- Be ready for rejection. Before you start with the first person, know that not everyone will want to hear from you. Some may outright refuse. Give these people time and try again, then let it go. You shouldn’t make amends just to make yourself feel better. You are trying to make those you hurt feel better. Pestering doesn’t feel good. Making amends in recovery is difficult and scary, and so is rejection, but accept it and move on to the next person.
Now when you hit those triggers in recovery that make you want to start using again, you will have a wider support network upon which you can rely, people invested in your sobriety and who truly care about you. That is a powerful thing.