Amends – Grapevine Article October 1965 by Dr. Hal S.

There is more to taking the Eighth and Ninth Steps than squaring things with other people

A LITTLE rigorous honesty will reveal to any alcoholic that he “roared like a tornado through the lives of other people.” But when you start making a list of people you have harmed do you put your own name on the list? You are apt to be the person you most harmed. You are very likely the one in most need of repair. This is selfish you say? I think not. Remember the old lines: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

First things first. Make amends–but start where the trouble starts, with yourself. Learn to forgive yourself, then you can forgive others. Accept yourself, and then others will begin to accept you. Feeling accepted–or rejected–is important to us alcoholics. As drinkers we often experienced rejection, so often that we developed hair-trigger reflexes. Despite our present abstinence from alcohol, these reflexes are still with us. We’re quick to sense rejection, real or fancied, and this breeds resentment. AA experience, as well as the words of our Big Book, tell us that resentment is one emotion an alcoholic can not afford.

If the problems of acceptance and rejection are annoying you, if the things you try to do leave you feeling not satisfied, if your experience sober is beginning to convince you that drunk or sober you are a born loser in life, I have a suggestion to offer: try once more to embrace the Eighth and Ninth Steps of the AA program. This time though, go at it with this new frame of reference: put making amends to–accepting–yourself on top of the list.

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