Step 8 and Shame

19587239_sThis blog post was written by Recovery Help Now’s, Cindy Weathers, MFTi.

The purpose of a recovery program and therapy is to help you stay clean and sober, and to become a functioning member of society again.  In order to do that, you need to clean up “the wreckage of the past.”

Shame is one of the big causes of relapse, and one of the big causes of shame is the knowledge that you did things that hurt other people.  You may have hurt them emotionally, physically, economically, socially, or in combination.  You may have done those things on purpose, or without realizing. Maybe you didn’t see your faults at the time, or maybe you just didn’t care — or maybe you simply couldn’t force yourself to look at them.  It is practically impossible to get rid of that feeling of being a bad person with those thoughts hanging over your head. The drugs helped, and there is great danger that you might seek that escape again.

The most important thing that you need to remember when contemplating Step 8 is that it is only a list.  The idea of amends, once so overwhelming, becomes far more manageable when reduced to the size of a sheet or two of paper.  And when you take the time to write things down, the unseen becomes seen.

Honesty is the key when making your list. We don’t say, “Well, I did (whatever), but Jack did (whatever) to me, so I don’t owe him amends.  You must look at your part in the matter, and write down what you did.   Take responsibility for your own actions and words.   Jack’s actions and words are his issue, not yours. This process becomes easier if you remember that it is all you have to do right now.   All you have to do is write. You will take action later, but right now is a time for reflection and self-honesty.

Elana Clark-Faler
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