3 min read
21 Jul

     One of the most painful and freeing experiences for me in my recovery was the amends process. I lived my life constantly on the run, from relationships, friendships, family and any responsibility in my life. I couldn’t be trusted to show up to my own intervention in my active addiction. Talking about my feelings and owning up to my mistakes has never been a strength of mine. It was much easier to hide, and numb my feelings than express them. It was easier to dive into new relationships after old ones ended rather than deal with my hurt and accept my mistakes. God forbid I ever acknowledged that I was the problem. In my moments of shame and pain, I cheated in my relationships rather than tell them I was no longer happy in them. I ghosted people who I cared about because I was ashamed. Tom MacDonald's song Sober,2020, really resonates with me on this level. I used the people around me, I spun webs of lies to them and to myself. At some point I even started believing the stories that I was lying about. I made up these things to make myself feel better and to feed my ego. My amends process became about deflating my ego in order to own up to my mistakes and have true change in my life.      

     Eventually I reached my 8th step, I had made my list of people I had harmed and I became willing to make amends to them all. I was terrified, I thought I had hurt people so badly that they never wanted to speak to me again, but I had to do it. So, I began my 9th step, I made direct amends wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others. Their pain was real, their hurt was real and I had to accept that some of them no longer wanted to speak to me. With the help of God, my higher power, I faced my amends process. The overwhelming positivity I received I felt unworthy of, but God was reminding me I wasn’t the monster I saw in the mirror. I was open and vulnerable with them and most importantly I was honest. I was sincere and I believe they saw that and gave me the same grace and mercy God did. I had changed, I had done the work to clean up the skeletons of my past, and I worked to clean my side of the street. I gave closure to people who deserved it from the start, but I wasn’t ready to give it to them back then. I didn’t expect forgiveness, but I got an abundance of it. God showed up for me because I finally started showing up for myself.  There were some who chose not to respond, and those people I had to make living amends for. For everyone who didn’t respond I chose to donate blankets to animal shelters, and to continue to change my behaviors. I didn’t want to own my mistakes and take responsibility for my shortcomings and failures, but I did. Because that was what God, my higher power, expected of me in order to be of use to others.      

     Finally, I had stopped running from my own life, my mistakes and my responsibilities. It was at this point I realized just how long I had put my own life on hold. Looking back there was a time that I was haunted by my own shame and guilt so powerful it manifested into my dreams. I had nightmares of someone entering my apartment and coming to kill me. I had sleep paralysis and would see shadows in my room. I became paranoid, I bought a baseball bat to protect myself and some nights I would find myself swinging the bat at those shadows. My mind was tearing itself apart and I was on the verge of a mental breakdown, but now I understand that shadow was my guilt and shame there to teach me a lesson. Telling me to deal with it and apologize, but I wasn’t ready back then to do any of that, I didn’t know how. I was the one destroying myself at night, and I drank to sleep, but it only served to repeat that cycle.  Now I can sleep at night knowing that I am doing the best I can every day and showing up for others in their lives. A far cry from the man who a year ago thought he was going to die alone in his apartment. 

     I had become so afraid of everything in my life that I manifested it into my life. With God in my life, I don’t have that problem.  I may find myself uncomfortable, but not full of fear. To all those struggling to make amends, I want you to know how liberating it is. No longer having to carry that shame and guilt is a blessing. So, I pray for this, that God, or whomever your higher power is, allows you to receive the same grace and mercy as when you first started your journey to recovery. God allows mercy, not justice in our lives. I pray that you clean up your past, and make lasting change to recover your present and build up a future. I pray you learn from those mistakes and forgive others as you were forgiven. We are not stagnant; we have to grow in order to learn the lessons from our experiences.  Your higher power will always be there for you along the way, and I want you to know you aren't alone in your shame and guilt either. God forgives us, and that’s all we need to move forward. 

With Much Love, 

Mack  

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