Step 8 gives us the opportunity to make a plan that will help us clean up some of the damage or hurt we caused during active addiction. It is very important we take the time out to pray and meditate because having a clear mind and heart is crucial when we build this list and move towards actually making amends.
The main purpose of Step 8 is to provide the assurance against harming others when we begin contacting them in Step 9, which involves making direct amends. I know people who met with their therapist and others who met with their priest after making their lists, and rightfully so. I met with my therapist to talk through some of the people on my list and address my feelings towards making amends. After doing Step 4, some resentments resurfaced and brought a bit of anger with them. An ex-boyfriend was one of those people on my list who brought up a lot of hurtful memories for me, but I also knew if I were to make a direct amends it would cause him harm as well. If you read Ryan’s experience with Step 8, you’ll remember he said “the goal is healing, not hurting yourself or others more.” In situations like mine coping with resentment toward my ex, my sponsor told me it would have to be a living amends, which means I would continue to do right in my life and no longer live the way I used to.
One of the biggest changes I made in my life is thinking of others before acting out, so without actually making a direct amends with him, it was something I would do daily.
Quite frankly, there is more than one person with whom I had made living amends with rather than direct, and next to each of their names on my list, I wrote (living amends) in parentheses. Putting people into separate groupings was a good way to make the list seem less overwhelming to me as I worked through it.
There could be a person on your Step 8 list that also caused you pain. It is important for you working through this process to forgive them before making your amends. The list is just a start. One can make little headway in this new adventure of living in recovery until they have a small setback while really making an accurate and unsparing survey of the human wreckage they left in their wake (active addiction). After that, we are well on our way – one day at a time, one STEP at a time!