I had a recent correspondence with someone I have never met. I did, however, know her ex-husband. Their marriage was destroyed years ago by drug and alcohol abuse. Because of this, their children grew up not knowing their dad. In his passing, he left undone the very thing that would have released them to forgiveness and moving on in life: making amends.
There are many issues involved with making amends. In the Twelve Steps, it is step #8 … a long way into the process of healing and getting your life back together. Acknowledging that there is much more to say on the subject than this post allows, here is my friend’s ex-wife’s thoughts about making amends. They are worth some contemplation.
Making amends begins with saying you’re sorry. But truly making amends is so much more than just saying you’re sorry!
When you make amends, you should live your amends by doing your best to do the right thing from that point forward. You can live your amends by being there for the people that you hurt when they need you, not when just it is convenient to you. Making amends sometimes means that you have to reach out and touch those that you hurt, because they won’t want to talk to you anymore. It doesn’t mean forcing yourself on them, but gently giving them the message that you are truly sorry. This doesn’t mean that this person will ever want you to be a part of their life again, but it doesn’t matter what they think, it’s not about you…it’s about them. You can still make yourself available to them, and check on them once in a while provided they haven’t told you to get lost. Sending a yearly Christmas card or a birthday card or some type of nice gesture can be a way to show them that you still care. You can also pray for that person and continue to pray for them daily…this will help you to forgive yourself.
Making amends is being truly sorry from your heart for the things that you did, and showing that to the people that you hurt by being a part of their lives in a positive way. Making amends is about loving people even when you feel unlovable, after all, it’s not all about you! This will help you start the process of healing yourself!
Helping others is a good thing, but you can’t make amends to those that you hurt by helping others–you need to make a direct amends to those that you hurt. They need to hear it, and you need to say it. This doesn’t discount what you do to help others…but helping others doesn’t take away the effect and the impact that you had on those that you hurt. You need to make direct amends to them!
Making amends means that you don’t let another day slip by without making those amends…do it today! You might not have tomorrow!
And it’s true that my friend did not have ‘tomorrow’. Making amends isn’t only for addicts. It is for all of us. It allows healing to begin where there is pain. Is there someone you have hurt that needs to know that you are sorry? Is there an unresolved issue that remains on your heart that could be relieved with some sincere words? This is a tough step in recovery. Aren’t we all recovering from life’s mistakes and regrets?
Thank you, Mary Ellen, for giving me permission to share this. I think it is worth some contemplation.
Thanks For Reading,