“I’m sorry.” Just two little words, they have the power to change your life, and the lives of the ones you love – if used correctly.
The reality is that for many addicts and alcoholics, saying “I’m sorry” is only the beginning of the process of making amends for past behavior, and not the end point.
“I’m sorry” is not a band-aid that you can simply place on a bleeding wound. “I’m sorry” means ripping off the band-aid, looking at the damage, and figuring out what you need to do to help heal it.
For that reason, when you start your amends in Step Nine, you should be prepared to do a lot more than just saying, emailing, or texting an apology. Living a life of recovery means saying “I’m sorry, and here’s what I’m going to do about it.”
It might mean paying a back a financial debt, or otherwise attempting to reverse the damage you created while drinking or using.
But usually, it’s not that simple. The process of healing a relationship can take years, and rebuilding trust is hard work that takes place one interaction at a time. Luckily, you’ll find the process to be just as healing for you as for the person on the other side.
But what do you do when you want to make amends to someone who is no longer in your life? What if you hurt someone who is now dead, or what if what you did is so big, you can’t think of a way to chip away at it?
In those instances, you might be called to work “living amends,” which means that every day for the rest of your life, you try to live in a way that is respectful of the past damage you caused.
For example, you might work a living amends for being a selfish friend in the past by taking on service commitments and giving back to others. You might try to be a good parent to your own children if you were a nightmare to yours.
Whatever the situation, one thing is for sure: If you stay in touch with the members of your fellowship and your higher power through prayer, meetings, and meditation, the right path will present itself to you. And you will begin to heal not just the wounds you caused, but those you suffered too.