Last night’s meeting happened to be on Step Eight. Even though I’ve written about it 3 days in a row, there’s been one thing that I had completely forgotten about. It was brought up several times as a “must-do-first” kind of deal. And that’s put myself on the list.

Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

“I needed to forgive myself before I could forgive others.” This phrase garnered many nods around the room. And although that sounds easy, to me is always came off as self-indulgent hooey.

No, false brain. That’s just me wanting to suffer more. Me wanting to cling to something that makes me miserable because it’s a pain I know. And, let’s be honest, I don’t really like myself. I can forgive others, and I can ask for others’ forgiveness. That’s far enough. Whatever else can wait. I’ll put it all on my back.

Which brings me back to the whole humility thing. I scoot right past humility and rational thought and go straight to beating myself with a tire iron. Because my disease loves nothing more than watching me go from one extreme to the other. You know who else was like that? Napoleon. Hitler. Mussolini. The Red Skull. If I can’t have everything, I’ll destroy everything. If I can’t be perfect, I must be awful.

It’s my need to control that’s front and center on this one. The thought processes goes like this: Hey, I’m an alcoholic. Apparently, I’ve been too easy on myself already. What I need is a good kick in the ass. Forgive myself? I’ll do that once I feel I’ve earned it. Except I have no concept of what “earning it” is. So I just put it off and off and off until it’s assumed that conditions will never be right for me to cut myself some slack.

But it’s through forgiving myself I learn to accept myself. I’m worth forgiving. Same goes for the others.

2 thoughts on “martyr much?

  1. This is great fodder for recovery forum sites…ha ha. Do we or do we not put ourselves on the list? Big Book doesn’t say explicitly either way. But the way I look at is more through the spirit of the big book. I didn’t put my name on my 8th step. The reason I didn’t is that first and foremost, I am trying to skin me ego off of me, get out of self. Putting myself on the list still keeps me in the center of the universe. So I put others on it only. Also, forgiveness is not the point of the amends process. If someone forgives me, that’s groovy sauce. But I am here to make things right, regardless if means they throw me out of the office or out of a moving car (ouch). So while forgiveness is great, I just want to balance the scales.

    I love the description of alcoholism being like Red Skull, etc. and how we just don’t like ourselves. Hallelujah I can relate to that! And it wasn’t until I was more than halfway past my amends that I was able to actually start to like myself. I was able to look at myself in the mirror and put down that tire iron. My sponsor hammered on to me the idea of self-forgiveness. I didn’t quite understand it when he talked about it. I mean, I knew it intellectually, but didn’t know it in my heart. It wasn’t until I plowed through a whack of amends that one day, riding my bike, I was guided by a small voice in my head to sit on a bench on a snowy evening, and sat and cried my eyes out ….out of the blue. I felt forgiveness wash over me. I had finally, finally forgave myself. It wasn’t a white light Bill W. moment, but it was my very small version of it. But I get bits of that now and then. So, to what your group was talking about, forgiving ourselves is a HUGE thing – y’all are right. But for this alcoholic, it wasn’t by putting myself on the list, but it was by *doing* the list and making the amends I ended up forgiving myself. It was through my action.

    Amazing program, eh?

    Love your post. thanks for sharing the Step 8 stuff lately. One of my sponsees just finished his list and is making amends right now. it’s a beautiful thing to see.


  2. I agree with Paul in this one. My forgiveness of myself is me thinking of me once again. I feel the power of the program through constant though of others and how I can be of maximum service to them and God. I make a list at 8, but 9 says I will be amazed before I’m half way through! My experience shows I am amazed because the feeling I have when I do the work is freedom and I don’t have to forgive myself for that! Thanks for the post!

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