I wish I could take back everything that I did to some people and I wanted to tell these people that I really did do all of these things, but how I explain? How do I explain stealing, lying, and cheating not just to them but myself? How do I explain everything when no forgiveness is promised from anyone or any situation? Making amends is truly one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, and couldn’t do this with everyone because not everyone was around to hear it by the time I decided to get clean.
I made many mistakes and I never expected anyone to wait for me to get my shit together but some did… like my parents. I fear it’s hard to conceive that a straight A student and friendly youth would be sticking needles in his arms, and it’s hard to say that once people found out that they would so easily forgive me.
I’ve talked a lot about forgiving yourself in my efforts on this website, but what I haven’t talked about is how others forgive us, and how some others will never forgive us. The key part to this whole process is gaining acceptance of the situation you’ve been given to make it a situation of betterment, for recovery and much, much more.
Some people may not be ready to hear an apology, let alone believe it. I know a lot didn’t believe me at first but after time of staying clean in recovery they didn’t have to believe me anymore because the truth was evident after I devoted time to doing the right thing in my recovery. Sometimes amends were given by pure effort to a positive situation but other times amends are a lot harder for others to wrap their heads around and the only way I learned this is when I had to give amends to someone else once I had already gotten into my own recovery and been through the process of giving amends myself. Recovery is supposed to be a balanced approach at life so I will describe how I got or absorbed amends instead of giving them this time in my recovery.
To describe this process I will go into a little more in depth from the other perspective—the one needing to do the forgiving—and I will draw on my experiences of living with addicts and loved ones who were addicted. I thought they would change but always hoped it would a little sooner, but don’t we all. The key part is I never gave up on him as he never gave up on me during my hard times. As they say, what goes around comes around, but I was very unprepared for this situation of addictions to come back on me in a different form, living with a previous active addict instead of being the active addict, just like he went through the same scenarios with me. Everyone surrounded by the situation was in pure denial and unaccepting of the situation, not of the person. We didn’t want to accept that this person was addicted because the fact was we couldn’t see it until it was too late. But, that’s how most things are when it comes to loved ones as we want to give them the respect of being “who they are” instead of “who you want them to be.”
I couldn’t stand the times that this person would come home from an obvious day of getting stoned and continuously lie to the people that I had tried so hard to gain trust back from. I was working on gaining trust back myself and the addict I was living with was losing it, it was a vicious cycle not only for me but my loved ones too. I would get skeptical and feel broken down when they would feed a situation of negativity and ask myself if others were losing trust in me because of this person (which wasn’t true). Thought would go through my head like, “Are they losing trust in me because of someone else’s actions? Is history too hard to repeat itself? It’s breaking my recovering heart.”
There would be times where hundreds of dollars would go missing from my place of residence and it would get blamed on misplacement, not the true culprit, a fed addiction. How did the people around us deal with a repeating cycle? It was self-fulfilling and hard to comprehend but through it all I never gave up on him, as he never did me.
A few times the tenant truck would come home with bumps and bruises on it until one day it didn’t come home at all. From an impaired state the addict had wrecked the car, and caused a loss of money in our collective household again. I felt like I was disgracing my loved all over again, but I was doing the best I could to keep me clean at the time! How could I comfort my loved ones through something I was still getting through myself?
My loved ones had seen these habits in me when I was using and abusing but didn’t want to recognize it in someone else close to us, and neither did I. It took months of trying to find out what was causing these outbursts, but still no one gave up in our family. I felt that I needed to keep making amends for someone who was propelling addiction on my family more than myself at this point, but the easiest part of the whole process was that once we found out what this person was using it felt like there was an immediate forgiveness. Through the process of knowing we didn’t give up on our loved one just like they didn’t give up on me, it was quit the opposite. What I realized about giving and taking amends was that there was no purpose for it at this point of everyone’s recovery; in fact it may have done more harm than good. The truth was that once we knew what was happening the support team went right into finding solutions because the need to say or hear I’m sorry wasn’t there. We loved this person too much to worry about our own feelings of feeling reprimanded because we knew someone who needed it (the active addict) needed to hear it and see action more than we did, and making someone feel a sense of remorse for their actions would only feed the addiction not help it. The amends were already made because once a plan of action was given to fix something it was like the weight of the world had been lifted from the unknowing shoulders of us all, and that is all we ever wanted.
The chance for answers was what made it easy from this point on. There was contemplation and devastation, don’t get me wrong, but once there was admittance (which is always the first step) and an asking for amends (that came in very small doses) we could then begin to put the pieces together. We didn’t need to forgive this addict so close to us because we were never mad; we were just not in our normal element. We didn’t know what to do, when we simply didn’t know, and the biggest relief there on out was from this addict coming forth, admitting his actions, and asking for another shot through recovery and proving hard work. Then there was a chance for healing, a chance for answers, and a chance to truly take care of the addict’s TRUE needs and ourselves for once.
Making amends is only as hard as one makes it to be until we finally make them, which sometimes can only be given and proven through action not the words, “I’m sorry.” It’s like ripping off a band aid when you think it will hurt really bad but once it’s over and ripped off the scar is aired out and left heal, it’s like… IT’S DONE AND THE TORMENT OF NO ONE KNOWING WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IS OVER!
The truly hardest part about making amends is two things: “Waiting to make them and having a reason to make them.” We must realize not everyone is willing to hear these amends but to those who do want to hear it and need that salvation just know that “they” never stopped loving you, and they wont.
We were all just caught in a confusing cycle of what ifs, when will it end, and why is this happening? Once we have an opportunity—as there will never be a perfect opportunity for everyone but only YOUR perfect opportunity—then it’s as if you were admitting our sins just by doing the right thing, therfor the stages of forgiveness are a second nature to the first: Getting better. Something that was once causing so many people affliction can and is now absolved ready for a healing process. So forgive yourself, know that you’ve already been forgiven, and be ready to heal together.
Making amends isn’t as hard as we make it out to be, it’s what we are making amends for that is the hard part! Once we choose our perfect time to make these true amends then you won’t just heal but everyone involved in the forgiveness process will begin to heal, laugh and love with you again.
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