When I was drinking I would hurt people, because that’s what I did when I was drinking, and then I would feel bad and avoid them. Sometimes go out of my way not to see them. And then when the day came around that I did, I would hang my head in shame and hope that they had forgotten.
My guilt would pile up like garbage. The trash can would be overflowing, shit falling on the floor, and I’d just ignore it. But then I’d walk by the guilty trash pile and step on something and it’d stick to my shoe and I’d be like…
“Dude just get off”
And that’s how I lived.
We talk in 12 step meetings about how the steps change us, make us better people. How they awaken our spirits. And with that I was thinking about Steps 8 and 9 recently and the cool thing about working them is that years later when I have something to do, amends to be made, or whatever I know that there is freedom after I walk through it. After I sweep up and take out my trash I’ll feel better. “Freedom from bondage of self” as it’s written.
The first time I was making my list, preparing to make those amends and so on, I had all kinds of anxiety and fear because I’d never done something like that before. Not something that monumental anyways. I didn’t have much experience with facing not only what I had done but also facing the other person. I didn’t know what was going to happen or how it was all gonna work out. So many unknowns. And unknowns are scary. Plus, I felt bad for what I’d done that led me to the person’s door in the first place.
People in the meetings said it was going to be okay and I knew that it was going to be okay just from earlier step work. But right then it wasn’t okay. Because I hadn’t made them. I was still living with the burden of my trash heap.
So in the here and now, because I went through the whole amends process, became willing, and knocked on people’s doors, I know there’s good stuff on the other side. I can rely on my past experience of taking action. I have that benefit now. The steps not only clear away the “wreckage of the past” but also give us the skills to live a clean life moving forward. Steps 8 and 9 are “training for Step 10” as John recently said.
Walking around with something on my mind, something that I need to do it really bothers me in the here and now. After having a clear conscience and knowing what a blue sky feels like, whenever my conscience isn’t clear it grinds on my emotional gears. It’s like life comes to a halt. It interferes with my relationship with god, with the cosmos, with you guys.
Today, I don’t have to walk around a trash pile. I know what to do. I can reach out to whoever now and be done with it. I won’t have to wonder if someone’s still mad or hurt because I can take responsibility for what I did. I can simply say “I was being an ass. And I’m sorry.“ It can really be that simple.
Then all that burden, all that discord, it goes away. Doing that kinda thing is how come I’m happy today. It’s how I get to live my life fully in the present. Not looking back, not feeling bad, but enjoying everything this very moment has to offer. There’ll be no fucking trash on the floor.
Also, just knowing that a relationship can be repaired or set back on track is a wonderful feeling. Just knowing that it will no longer be an obstacle, that I don’t have to avoid someone or not look them in the eye. Just knowing it’s gonna be okay gives me hope, gives me relief, gives me the motivation to clean it up.
And it will also make the other person’s day just that much better. They can have and share in that same freedom, in that same closure. They deserve it more than I do.
I’ll never forget the look on his face after I said, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” His eyes teared up the same as mine as we shared that moment, as we both let go of a shard of glass that was holding us back. That was keeping us from having the best relationship possible. We shared in that release. I’ll doubt if you’ll find something better than that.