Making amends

In Step 8 you made a list of the people you harmed because of your addiction. You tried to turn your thoughts from your own shame and guilt on to their pain and disappointment. Making amends is sometimes straightforward. If you took money from someone to pay for your addiction you may be able to return it, though maybe not all at once. At least you can apologise.

Sometimes saying, ‘sorry’ makes a real difference. Letting people know that it really was you that was wrong and not them can restore their self-confidence. An apology makes someone feel valued. How they feel, their disappointment, their loss, their own shame at being dragged into a situation, it all matters.

More Harm than Good?

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do. If you drew someone into some sort of abuse, whether physical, sexual or to do with relationships and control, then it is sometimes better not to drag it all up again. But sometimes, if they too are to move on and be restored, the person you hurt needs to endure the pain of revisiting the situation, to understand themselves as a victim not a collaborator, and to know that they didn’t bring it all onto themselves.

Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Accepting Guidance

You cannot make that judgement call alone. Painful, shameful, embarrassing, maybe dangerous as it is, you must share the truth of what you did with those who advise and guide you. You need someone else to take an objective view of the balance between potential harm to those you have hurt, to their family and friends, to those close to you and to yourself. You need a good and expert guide who has experience and training and is both knowledgeable and objective.

The people you have hurt cannot choose whether to be reminded of what you did. That is a decision you must make based on the best possible advice. But once you have decided to say sorry and to seek to make amends, they do have a say in what sort and degree of restitution is appropriate.

Many people are kind and forgiving and generous, delighted, satisfied and restored simply by an apology. Some are objective about appropriate recompense. But the fact that you have hurt someone does not make them perfect and there are a few who may seek to turn the situation to their own unfair advantage at a time when you are very vulnerable. Find the best guide and advisor who will also balance your need to be protected with the needs others.