I've been to several meetings this week on the topic of Step 8: "Made a list of persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all."
I find it interesting how many people seem to see this as another way to look at what the alcoholic has done to damage us. That's not what this Step asks us to do. We aren't making lists of all the people, including ourselves, harmed by the alcoholic, we are taking a clear and careful look at our own character defects, and how those have caused pain, grief, sorrow and trouble to the people in our lives.
It wasn't until I was willing to admit that I could be a jerk, that I began to get much from this program. As long as I was still fixated upon what the alcoholic had done, was doing, might be about to do, my focus was skewed.
I don't attempt to suggest that we haven't been harmed in this alcoholic relationship, one is always getting toes snipped off and bits gouged out when we love an alcoholic, it's the nature of their disease, of the inflated sense of self, and overweening ego, which accompanies the other symptoms.
But we become equally as self-absorbed in our confusion and our pain, "irritable and unreasonable without knowing it." That's why we need a sponsor, because when we start out on this journey, our defenses will have us insist that we have no character defects, that we don't need to make a list, that we haven't harmed anyone. Over the years that I've been in this program, I've seen this happen time and again - someone relatively new insisting that they don't like this character defect stuff because it sounds too punitive, or they havn't done anything compared to the alcoholic's crimes against the world, or just a general sense of outrage when it's suggested to them that they learn to focus on their own faults.
I've been that person, wanting to blame another for all my unhappiness. It wasn't until I became more willing to sit down and have a good hard look at myself that I began to find change in this program. But that requires some beating down of our own egos, and open minds with regard to who our sponsor sees
when they look at us.