Series Three: Blog Twenty-Four
Crisis in the world is pandemic. COVID, despotic tyrants uprooting countries, famine, and global warming have created fear and uncertainty. People mistrust news that is presented in the media. Is it fake news or is it a force trying to undermine the reality of what is truly happening? The soil of trust that holds the roots of humankind has been eroding. There is ominous fear that someday a landslide of anarchy will be the result and that it will destroy freedoms deemed so precious in the democratic republic of the United States and other like forms of government around the world. Most of us don’t know the severity of impact any one anarchist action taken will have on our democracy. It is like family crisis. When a family faces the onslaught of crisis, each time it takes a hit, family members wonder if this hit is the one that takes the family down. Resilience is difficult to predict.
Pundits ponder and predict future outcomes. If you digest too much rhetoric you will depress yourself. Overwhelmed with fear, we feel the need to isolate ourselves or control others. Fear triggers a need to puff up and get loud. When we do, we often hurt others and ourselves.
The way of 12-step recovery offers refreshing hope with simple steps that have endured the ages. In times of chaos and uncertainty, amends become magic and healing to those around us. Simple things can restore order. In Chicago, a driver in a hurry, as all drivers in big cities seem to be, drove through an unavoidable puddle of water from a drizzling rain and drenched a man in a suit waiting for a cab. Unsolicited, he pulled over and gave the man a $100 bill to have his suit cleaned. He took an isolated moment of disgust that could have fomented hatred and defused it with human kindness through an amends. On a hot summer day, a six-year-old boy with an ice cream cone was inadvertently knocked to the floor of a subway in New York City and the cone was accidentally stepped on by one of the boys. One of the older kids helped the little guy up and gave him a candy bar he had in his pocket. The six-year-old found a new friend as a result.
Amends do matter and offer healing during times of turmoil and chaos. A few things should be considered when considering making amends:
- Unintended hurt is as common as branches snapped in the wind. Simply apologize for the hurt. Sometimes people in a frenzy feel entitled to make mistakes and think others around them should cut them slack because they are trying to do so much for others. Frenzied living fuels entitlement toward others. Even when you didn’t mean to hurt someone it doesn’t help to explain your motives, circumstances and difficulty. Simply make a verbal amends with a genuine “I’m sorry my action hurt you”.
- Amends do not hinge on the other person’s forgiveness. Sometimes addicts tell me that they are sorry for the carnage they created for another because of their addiction. However, they say they want to wait to apologize because they do not think the other person will forgive them. Making amends takes courage to step out and own the hurt you perpetrated toward another. It is not necessary for someone to forgive you in order for you to make amends to another. Stay focused on your side of the street and get the amends completed.
- Amends help to clear your perspective about the chaos your addictive behavior has created. In the world about us, chaos and carnage of selfish human behavior skew the view and muddy the waters toward a positive focus. When you take initiative and own your behavior that has hurt another, not only do you unload the burden of a grudge toward that person or entity, but it allows you to see the future in that relationship with greater clarity and increased hope.
- Amends is a healing energy. Making amends creates an energy that heals differences. When you hurt someone, go make it right. It is not helpful to defend your motive or even to mention it. Simply make the amends. Whether you stepped on my ingrown toe nail accidentally or on purpose doesn’t matter. My toe hurts the same either way. Have compassion. Say you’re sorry. It will provide a necessary energy that restores human connection.
- In 12-step work, you don’t have to wait until you address Steps 8 and 9 before you make things right with another person you hurt. Some addicts sabotage amends-making by thinking they have to wait until they do Steps 1 through 7 before making amends. So they procrastinate. They get caught in relapse working through the first seven steps and think they have to go back and first address the relapse and then rebuild their recovery program in order to finally make the amends. For some, they never get to a point of making the amends. They sabotage the potential healing that comes through making amends.
- Making amends can be complicated. It is not a one action fits all exercise. Human relationships are complicated. Making amends requires consideration of many factors including timing and situation. Twelve-step book work suggests to make amends when doing so does not harm the other. That said, the egregious addictive behavior has already created the harm. There is no amends that does not trigger pain. Sometimes, it is like ripping a scab from an old wound. Does it make sense to rip the scab or not? An important consideration in order to proceed forward is to live in consultation to your community of support. Your decision to move forward or not will vary. You will have various factors to evaluate. Making amends is a process that helps addicts emotionally grow themselves up with proper consideration for those who have been harmed. All too often, addicts escape making the amends stating that they don’t want to further hurt the injured party when in truth they don’t want to face their own fear and emotional pain that the amends might trigger. It is important to weigh your attempt to make amends by consulting those who care and love you enough to tell you the truth even when it hurts.
Acknowledging the hurt, you create provides healing energy to those who have been broken by your behavior. This is a healing action that provides hope in a chaotic world and calm in a world so desperate for peace.