Monday, February 8, 2010

Stop Poking At Me, Already!

One foundation of the Al-Anon program, which seemed impossible when I started, yet over time, has become a deeply ingrained habit, is making amends.

I've come to believe that the Steps are written as they are, in an effort to overcome the ferocious desire to justify ourselves, present in so many of us. I know I can always find a knee-jerk reaction as to why I was perfectly in the right to say/think/do whatever it was. That kind of thinking keeps me separate from others. It creates distance, and walls of rigidity.

Getting over the first monstrous hurdle of "Made direct amends to all persons we had harmed, except when to do so would injure them or others." allowed me to realise that it wasn't so bad to admit I was in the wrong; on the contrary, it was hugely freeing. I woke up the day after each early amend, and realised  - that was one less stinking, putrid hunk of ancient guilt to lug around.

I carried so much guilt with me; it stabbed and slashed at me in quiet moments: kept me from sleep: poisoned my self-image. Even so, when first offered the chance to relieve it through the making of amends, I was doubtful. And terrified. What if someone rejected an amend? My sponsor worked me through the process of "Well, what's the absolute worst that could happen?" each step of the way, until I came to the realisation that even if that was the outcome in one or more cases, I'd survive.

Making amends clears the slate upon which we write our relationships with others. It's a powerful statement of shared humanity. I've made amends I didn't want to make, to people I didn't much like, and achieved the  same result as with the amends I was willing to make, to those I love. It's the process that matters. The humility.

I was joking to a friend recently, that now instead of being poked and prodded by guilt, it's my conscience sticking a finger into my side and saying, "Um, excuse me, can we talk?"  I've had times where I've tried to pretend I didn't hear it, but that just increases the force of the fingerpokes, until my ribs hurt and I'm completely exasperated, and whirl around to say, "All right! I hear you! I'll make the cursed amend!"

I'm not going to pretend I'm always melting with the force of my willingness, right from the start. I have times when I feel like a recalcitrant child, being pushed forward by my conscience, with mulish expression upon my face. Somehow, someway, most likely through the grace of my Higher Power, when I reach the point of speaking my amend, I will find that I am willing. I may say whatever I have to say stiffly, and with much mumbling and fumbling, but I will say it, and for that, I am truly grateful.


  1. Making amends, for me, has been freeing as well. The secrets and shame that I use to fear just seem to shrink into nothingness when I confront my part, own up to my defect(s) and then am willing to make the amends when the time comes. It gets easier. It is one of the greatest gifts I have been given.


  2. I think that my willingness to do this entire deal is indicative of my trust. Making amends made me realize a lot of positive things about myself.