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Play Nice - Steps 8 and 9

Did I really just type August? Nooooooo! I don’t think I have ever loved a summer more! I do not want it to be done. However, I did see some boots in a store recently and thought, “Oh yes, I do love boots.” You do need fall weather for boots!

Anyways, our weekend was work work work! We are busy getting things in shape to entertain a group from out-of-state here at our cottage this week. There will be about 40 people on our deck for cocktails and appetizers. Yes, cocktails. A full bar in my kitchen. No worries, there will be Pellegrino and fresh limes for Sher. Breaking "aha" moment here! I did not ever think I would see the day when I could have a kitchen full of booze and not break out into a sweat! It's got to be a God thing because it's definitely not a Sherry thing!

We have been busy! Decks, landscaping, you name it, we polished it! Kind of like having a graduation open house or wedding at your home. We’ve done both and it is truly the best way to get 'er done! In between all the work though, we played a little. We started the weekend with a date at our favorite Mexican restaurant and laid out our weekend plan. My daughter had some friends over to go boating and I had the pleasure of cooking for them all on Saturday, which I love to do. Especially for three big football players; they so appreciate a good burger! On Sunday I went across the state with my son and daughter-in-law to a wedding shower and we left Grandpa in charge of the little guy. Aunt Liv was around to help, but I’m pretty sure nap time involved Landon, Grandpa, a recliner, and a Tigers game. Or was it Harry Potter???

Before I dive in, I want to thank everyone for their outpouring of love and support from the blog last week. I was “feeling the love” after the blog went out last weekend! Thank you so much for your kind words of love and support. It means the world to me, and I shared many of your sentiments with my husband.

As usual, let's start at the top with a review of the twelve steps so far:

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our problems-that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3: We made a decision to turn our wills and our lives over to the care of God.

Step 4: We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7: We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

This week, I am going to do Steps 8 and 9 together because they are so closely tied together.

Step 8: We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them.

Step 9: We made direct amends to people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

As I have been doing the steps series this summer, one of the first things I do is read it and then ponder what the first thing is that comes to mind after I read it. I read both steps together and stuff came to mind alright, at lightning speed! I'm not kidding! You know that expression people use in near-death experiences? “My whole life flashed before my eyes?” That happened, but it wasn't my life I was seeing, it was faces. Lots and lots of faces. Family and friends that I had hurt and the scenarios that surrounded them.

I quickly focused on who they were (at least the ones I could catch on this fastest slideshow ever,) and am grateful to say that most of them have been willing to forgive and support me in this new way of life. Not everyone though, and I can’t say I blame them. I was a real jerk for a long time and to expect everyone and their brother that I had ever hurt to welcome me back like the prodigal son is a pretty high expectation.

It has taught me to give others a chance when I want to wash my hands of them. When words hurt, or sometimes no words at all, because you are being shut out. I like to step back and look at what my role is in this hurt that's going on. There are some people in life that you just have to hand over to God and say, “That is who they are, they are not going to change.” I just have to accept that and move on. But do they need me? Am I supposed to move on? That’s the hard part!

I’ve heard more than a few alcoholics say, "Why should I apologize I had a disease? I wouldn't apologize if I had cancer." I’m not touching that one. I believe that if you hurt someone, no matter what the reason, you should make it right. Make amends. Regardless of what we have been through, we are still accountable for our actions. Remember that whole insane thing? Well, I am sane now (most of the time,) so no excuses.

I took this next paragraph from a devotion in the Recovery Bible. It uses the passage in Leviticus 16 to give us an idea of what Step 8 is all about. This is based on the passage in Leviticus where the people of Israel were instructed to select a live goat that would carry away their sins. (Jesus became our scapegoat when he took our sins upon himself.) The priest would lay his hands on the goat and confess over it the sins of all the people. Then, the goat is driven into the wilderness, thus taking everyone's sin with it.

The author of the devotional goes on to say this, “Some of the people we have hurt will use us as their scapegoats. Since we have hurt them they feel justified in sending us away with more than our share of the burden. They unconsciously place the blame for their pain on us so we can carry it away. As their scapegoats, we play the role of removing something they were unable to deal with in any other way. Because of this, they may never welcome us back. We should be prepared for this kind of response, and realize that their behavior says more about them than it does about us.”

Now this complicates things a little! I thought it was all on me. Wait! Other people have issues that may have nothing to do with me??? Interesting…

I'm glad I did not see this early on in my recovery game. I would have walked away from a lot of people and given up right away, if I didn't feel love and forgiveness from them! Knowing me I would have walked away muttering, “I can’t be his/her scapegoat, that’s too bad.” Easy out, right? But now that I have had a few years to reflect on this, I see things a little more clearly and see some of this for what it really is.

We realize that all actions have consequences. God has made accountability necessary for living a healthy life.

In Hosea 10:12 we are told, “It is time to plow up the hard ground.”

The Bible says we will always reap what we sow. Even after we have been forgiven, we must still deal with the consequences of our actions. It takes time to complete the harvest of negative consequences of our past. Don't let that discourage you. Making our list of those we have harmed is a step toward planting good seeds. Then, as time goes by, you will see the fruits of your harvest.

I would say the number one thing I learned in going to those I had to make amends to was this:

How to be a Better Friend

All my life I've had lots of friends, but now I know what REAL friendship looks like. Friends that accept me for who I am and don’t want drinking Sherry to ever return. Friends that are willing to play my way. Meaning, not every occasion has to have alcohol involved. It has also taught me to give back. Sometimes I have to play their way and go somewhere and hang out where there is alcohol. That’s ok, because we keep the playing field pretty even. They are also understanding if I duck out from a party early. Most of my friendships have a new depth and understanding about what a relationship should really look like. I love this and it makes for a great quality of friendship. I’m not so concerned about the quantity anymore.

There are also those friends that just didn't get it. I was ready to admit I had a problem long before they were ready to admit that I had a problem. Sounds confusing, but it’s not. I had some relationships that were totally reliant on being drinking buddies. Take away the drinking buddy and the relationship dies. That’s ok, can’t win them all.

In a nutshell, Steps 8 and 9 say this: Make a list of who you owe an apology too. Seek them out and clear the air. Play nice.

I did a lot of that and it was so freeing! I found out so much about myself and the other person in each and every conversation. I wasn’t the only one hurting here! There were lots of tears, honest questions and answers, and a few hugs as well. It was not near as painful as I had imagined and some of those conversations were long overdue. I don't want to walk around in this life here with people pissed off at me. Life is hard enough without that!

It has also taught me to widen my circle. Be open to new relationships that God is revealing to you. I have made a lot of new friends these past few years that have nothing to do with addiction and recovery. They are my friends because they like me for who I am and vice versa. They could care less if I drink or not and I freely share with them that I do not. I own it!

How about you? Are there any names that come to mind that you need to have a conversation with? If you have that nagging feeling (you know which one I mean) that you might have pissed off someone or possibly hurt their feeling, chances are you need to talk to them. It's so much easier to just dive in and get through it instead of living life around it. It may hurt or feel uncomfortable going in, but I guarantee you it feels so much better going out! This goes for family too.

Life is too short to stay mad at someone or have them be mad at you. Be the bigger person today and make a move if you need too. You’ll be glad you did. I know I am! Get out your plow and head towards the hard ground. Don’t put it away completely though. There is always more to do and the work is never done, but that’s Step 10 and we are taking things here one day at a time.

Ode to Toy Story!

You've got a friend in me

You've got a friend in me

You've got troubles, and I've got 'em too

There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you

We stick together and can see it through

'Cause you've got a friend in me

You've got a friend in me

Have a great weekend everyone!



*Here’s my weekly AA caveat. In AA these steps are done with a sponsor which I did not choose to do. However the track record of success in doing these steps with a sponsor in relation to drugs and alcohol has proven to have had great success in moving someone into living a life of sobriety. So if you are interested in looking at this from an AA perspective I encourage you to pursue it! There is a ton of information out there.


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