“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, 2014, p 59
You don’t have to be in recovery or even know someone in recovery to do the Steps. These are basic principles that are true for all relationships. I recommend you take them in order, however. (I’ve been injured by jumping up them and by falling down them!) One at a time, starting at Step 1, there is a beautiful rhythmic momentum to them when taken in order.
In the sidebar you will find a link to the Amends Chart. Below is a method for preparing what to say when you meet with someone who you need to make an amends to. Simply put, it’s a way to restore relationships that really does work. This is only one suggestion. It works for me. But then again, I love to make amends, so…
PREPARATION OF THE HARMS STATEMENT
For each person in your NOW column, write a few brief sentences in your own words (or reword one of the samples) but include the following:
- I’m in a recovery program or I’m becoming more aware of my actions lately… etc.
- I’m coming to you to try to clear up our past and to admit my wrongs and I really want to make things right with you.
- I’m asking only that you hear me as I admit the faults that I find in myself and hope that at some point you will forgive me.
- List the behaviors (column 4) that caused harm
- Apologize in simple words: I am truly sorry.
Harms Statement Examples:
Because I now realize that I’m an alcoholic and as a result of what I’m learning in AA, I see how much pain I’ve caused you by my being so angry all the time (add specifics here) by my screaming at you and the kids and by my throwing constant drama into our lives. At some point, I hope you’ll be able to forgive me. I am so sorry.
I am not asking for anything from you except that you hear how sorry I am for how I have been treating you. I have taken a hard look at how I treated you and realize I have frequently been untruthful with you, have avoided talking to you when you wanted to resolve things and have been unforgiving of things that should be left in the past. I would like to start over, but even if that’s not possible, please know I see how I’ve hurt our relationship and that I am very sorry.
I am hoping you’ll be able to forgive me for the way I’ve let you down. (add specifics) I know I’ve been distant, hostile, reclusive and unreliable lately. I’ve had to admit to myself that I need help and I’m getting that. I would like to restore our relationship if that’s possible. Perhaps I’ve hurt you in ways I don’t even realize. I want to know what you think. I’m ready to listen.
Graduate level for those ongoing relationships that you really value, add this element: I’m committing to you that I won’t do this again and am asking that you help me by telling me if I do begin to treat you that way – ever. Please.
One thing I love about the program of AA is the emphasis on experiencing and granting forgiveness. Spiritual living, for me, is not just a theory any longer. I don’t argue, don’t pressure, don’t try to convince, I just live…
I’m trying to live my convictions, to live the principles of the recovery program as it’s written. I know less now, but I experience more. It’s an amazing way to live!