Friday, August 9, 2013

On the Impossibility of Making Amends.

Whenever I reach into the past,
or whenever I'm dragged back there
kicking & screaming, I discover
again how impossible it is to make full
& complete amends to all the people I hurt.

I'm not bringing this up in a woe is me way.
I'm not bringing it up to absolve myself
or anybody else of doing all we can to find
those we hurt & make amends, which involves
not only apology but finding out what we can do
to make things as right as we can.

I am all for all that & I urge anybody in recovery or
not to go for the amends whole-heartedly, as long
as it doesn't lead to more pain for those we
would make amends to.

Still, it's impossible, for anybody who drank
as long as most recovering alcoholics drank,
10, 20, 30 years, to even remember everybody
we hurt and how we hurt them, and how badly,
even cruelly.

I just had a reach into the past with an old
friend and was reminded of a person and an incident
in which I hurt that man awfully. I never thought
of the man when I was making my step 8 list,
never crossed my mind, and if it had I wouldn't
have ever thought I did anything to him which would
call for amends.

On the one hand, I got a new amends from fifty years
ago to make, which is a good thing.

On the other hand, it's disheartening to realize,
again, how much damage I did back then that I
don't even remember.

I'm not bemoaning my own situation, or not too much.
I'm mostly trying to see, in terms of the present,
the unamended damage I did. How can I make amends for
so many wrongs I did that I'll probably never even remember?

Here's the good part. Long-time sober that I am, and
a better man and human that I may be compared to that
guy pre-1986, I am still self-centered as hell & it is not
my nature to go out of my way to be of service to my
fellow human, suffering or alcoholic or not.

I've battled lately with feeling I'm sick of trying to
help others, especially fellow alcoholics, because, well,
you know, what the hell good does it do and besides I'm
underappreciated, don't you know.

Then I run into the past again, get reminded of all
the damage I did, so much forgotten, in blackouts and
not in blackouts, and how try as I may I'll never make
amends for it all.

And that painful reminder makes me realize the importance
and spiritual meaning of LIVING AMENDS.

Which means to me remembering that when I'm kind to
the people in my life today, even when I don't feel like it,
even when I think they haven't "earned" it, even when I feel
that they have wronged me,

when I try to be there for others, alcoholics or otherwise,
even when it feels pointless and hopeless and I'd rather
be pursuing selfish pursuits,

what I'm doing then is in a kind of a way making amends
somehow for the wrongs I did others, for the hurt I brought
others, even though I can't even remember them or the wrong
or the hurt that I caused.

I just sighed with gratitude for living amends, and resolve
again to appreciate the chance to be kind & patient & loving
& compassionate to others today who are in my life,
partly because I was not kind or patient or loving or compassionate
to so many people in my past who I cannot reach or even remember.

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