Currently I am working on my 9th Step:
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
When I sat in AA as a newbie, looking at this on the wall, it was scary but also simple. “I am sorry for …” Done. Oh how naive I was…
It turns out (for me) that those type of amends are the easy ones. The 9th Step is an additional action step to 4 and 5. As such I need to dig deep for MY part in relationships, even when I feel had done a person no wrong or that they were the a-hole. Finding your part is tough enough, and making amends without bringing up their defects – now that is difficulty.
In going through that “find my part” exercise yesterday, I came across a “shocking” discovery, that my mind has the powerful ability to rewrite factual history, here is that story:
My father died in January of 1987, after a horrible 1 year struggle with a brain tumor. My father was a USMC Drill Instructor and growing up that is the relationship we had – him the commander and I the recruit. If you had asked me, even 2 days ago, about how my father’s death affected me I would have said “I have always felt cheated that the opportunity to have an adult relationship with my father was taken away from me, he died when I was 17 or 18 and I never had the chance.” Aside from the obvious self-centeredness of this belief I held for 25 years, I discovered that it isn’t entirely true. As I wrote my 9th Step letter to my deceased father, I realized I was 19 and a half when he died. I dug into this and realized that I had a full year or more as an “adult” when he wasn’t outwardly sick. Suddenly I remembered how during my first year at college, despite the obligatory weekly phone call, I never really reached out to him. My fear of his disapproval, or disappointing him, resulted in me never inviting my parents to visit my crappy dorm room or apartment, meet my party friends, or see the campus they were paying for me to attend. I am sure he would have loved to visit me and been invited into my world. While maybe not a lot of time, I did in fact have time to reach out and and have an adult relationship with my father. Instead, my brain would shift time a year here, a year there, until the blame was properly lifted and I was an innocent victim.
The point of this story is not to beat myself up, or assign blame to anybody – including myself. The point is that things are not always as we remember and if we look hard enough we can see our part in almost anything.