Step 8: Made a list of all persons we have harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all When I first thought about this step, I had only four people on my list: my husband and my three children. And as I was thinking about the ways I had hurt them, I realized I was still stuck on how they had hurt me! And how is my list only four people? I have been codependent for a long time—and not just with my family.
So I started with a list of the people that had hurt me. At the top of the list was my husband because that is the deepest and freshest hurt. The rest of the list flowed pretty easily and was long. Coworkers, bosses, old boyfriends, my children, my mother and father, people I couldn’t even remember the names of—but I sure remembered the hurt or the embarrassment they caused. I put the list away for a bit then went back to look at it. The first thing I noticed was most of the men that I had ever been involved made the list. Then I noticed that all the people I worked the hardest to please also listed on it.
I went back to my list of people I had harmed. It grew. It grew to include all the people that had hurt me at some point in my adult life. I realized I had set myself up. In the process of trying to control the situation or the people, while they were hurting me, I was hurting them, and in the process, myself.
Then I made a third list: only one name—my own. I am the one that I have hurt the most. I am still hurting myself. I torture myself with obsessive compulsive-behavior toward lost relationships that I think I am going to save. I create a fantasy world fueled by denial, where everything is rosy and I am on the verge of living happily ever after, if only I could make everything and everyone be the way I want them to be. I often feel like I take one step forward and two steps back, and I fall back into self-pity and feeling victimized. I know this is an essential part of recovery, but it is hard.
I am still trying to identify all of my harmful behaviors. Allowing others to treat me badly and not setting appropriate boundaries has led to resentment, anger and guilt. All of these harmful behaviors have harmed me the most.
The willing to make amends part of this step has been much harder than I anticipated. Of course I want to get better; of course I want to make amends. But I realized I am still harboring too much guilt and shame, too much anger, and still too much fear, especially toward my husband and myself.
I am learning that I must forgive others before I can move forward, be at peace, and begin to heal. What has happened in the past has led me to now. As I look at my past, I realize I am learning what I want and what I don’t want. It is part of taking care of myself.
I especially like this quote I found online from a codependent named Ann: "Forgive others, not because they deserve it but because you deserve peace."
Marilyn P. – 8/5/16