This is part 3 of a 4-part seminar titled “Stepping Stones to Serenity”, presented by Ellen C in 2008. This part covers steps 7 through 9.
The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.
John Green, Looking for Alaska
I have had a lot of anger towards loved ones in the past. I remember that I used to write down the resentments against them when I took my inventory. I was so upset from the harms that I perceived had been committed against me – even if they were decades old. I had heard in the meeting rooms that forgiveness is key to finding peace. And I kept telling myself to forgive these people. I would even chant it to myself or act as if I had forgiven them. Nothing helped. My resentments remained and I felt frustrated.
Eventually, I got to the 8th Step in my Stepwork with my Sponsor. To do the 8th Step, I had to make a list of all persons I had harmed and become willing to make amends to them all. I listed everyone on my resentment list and listed my anger and judgment against them to be reasons for my amends. Thankfully, I had a wonderful Sponsor that asked me where my amends to myself was on the list. I realized I had no amends to myself – not really. I had hastily scribbled my name on the last page in the margin. My Sponsor reminded me that I was not really honoring and respecting myself by ignoring my self-amends. I took her suggestion and sat and wrote a proper amends to myself. In the amends, I apologized for not standing up for myself in the past. I apologized for lying about my feelings to myself and others. I apologized for ignoring my own needs. I apologized for giving up my power to other people. And then I cried because I had just been given an amends by the one person with whom I actually angry, myself.
As I cried, the pain left me and the suffering left me and my wounds started to close. Since then, every day that I am honest about my feelings, every time I honor my needs, and every time I stand up for myself, the wounds close a little more and open up more space for gratitude and love and even more forgiveness. And as I heal and forgive myself, forgiveness for others comes so easily. I think this is because my reality exists within me and I project that reality onto the world around me. Now that my reality is that I am responsible for loving myself, so I am able to seeking external validation and resenting people when I do not receive it.
Today, my Higher Power blessed me with happiness and peace as well as pain and fear. All four blessings are always present for me; some offer comfort and some offer opportunity. When I can see all of these as equal, one not better than another, I can stop feeling like a victim and be accepting, grateful, and forgiving.
A meditation for September 29, 2013
We are not to retreat from life, pinning our hopes on ‘elsewhere,’ but to know that we will come to that final destination best by living fully here and now, be it through joy, or pain, or a mix of both.
– Madeleine L’Engle, The Rock That Is Higher
I spent much of my life trying to get fulfillment and happiness from other people. I needed you to be happy so that I could be happy. I needed you to like me so that I could like me. I needed your approval so that I could approve of myself. I needed your attention so that I would not be alone with myself. You were the ‘elsewhere’ on which I pinned my hopes.
Through the Steps, I am finding my way to a life that is supported from within me, with the aid of my Higher Power. I have learned that I control my own happiness, and I am not responsible for yours. The love that my Higher Power has for me is helping me to love myself. Through Steps 4-9, I see my strengths and assets, have asked my Higher Power to remove my shortcomings, and am amending my behaviors to a way of living that is consonant with my values. Step 11 is helping me to be comfortable in my skin, and to find serenity in solitude and calm. Through my continuing spiritual awakening, I spend more time living fully in the here and now, more time as myself. I find myself less in need of you to define who I am, and am thus able to enjoy your companionship for what it is, enriching rather than shaping my life.
A meditation for September 19, 2013.
If you are struggling with guilt and resentment over your actions in the past… If you aren’t ready to make amends to someone… If you think that you deserve an amends before you make one… You’ve come to the right place. Keep listening as we discuss STEP 8.
Kelli, Spencer, and Swetha share our own experiences with Step 8, as we try to address these questions and others:
How do you decide if you have “harmed” someone? (what was the act? why did we do it? What were the consequences?)
Have you made a list? How did you go about it? (use your 4th step?)
How do you “become willing” to make amends?
What if there are people you are not willing to make amends to?
Can you be willing to become willing?
What about people who owe you amends?
Did you make it onto your list? Why is it important to include yourself?
What is the difference between willingness and actually making the amends?
What part does honesty play in this process?
Did you review your list with anyone before planning amends? Did they make any suggestions to you? What did/ could you learn from them?
Does your HP get included in this step?
This episode was our first experiment at live broadcast through Mixlr.com. Join us on Monday, August 12, at 6PM EDT (2200 GMT) as we record our next episode on self-acceptance and self-esteem. You can listen to our raw, unedited conversation, and interact with us and other listeners in the chat room. Just click on the “listen live” link to the right. If you “Follow” us on Mixlr, you will automatically receive an email notification when we start broadcasting.
Our topic for next week is self-acceptance and self-esteem. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading “Step 8 – Episode 35”