Teasing out the difference between guilt and regret can be tough. I cannot go back and change the past, but I can take responsibility for my actions. Each day I ask my Higher Power for the strength to help me stay sober and live responsibly and with honesty. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me, but if not, I understand. It can be tempting to say things like “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done to you,” but try to avoid these blanket statements. They miss the opportunity to be truly reflective about how your wrongdoings have impacted the other person and can be misread.
An apology doesn't include an action that attempts to make up or compensate for that wrongdoing. That is also a different ball of wax entirely, one that we have written about here. I am very sorry for stealing money out of your desk in order to fund my drug habit last year. Remembering how I stole from you makes me sad and living amends fills me with shame. While I did these things in active addiction, that does not take away from how wrong they were, and the pain and sense of betrayal you must have felt as a result of my actions. But, as difficult as it is, completing this step can provide an immense sense of relief and newfound hope for the future.
Why did the Supreme Court declare the AAA program unconstitutional?
We talked about the complicated processes of self-forgiveness and self-compassion. We've filled you in on things that can exacerbate guilt, like hindsight bias and survivors' guilt. We've given you journaling exercises around coping with regret. Even so, you https://ecosoberhouse.com/halfway-house/ will have done all that you can to take responsibility for the past—and there’s a level of peace and freedom in that as well. How the other person chooses to respond to our amends is out of our control. You, at least, have done your best and can now move on.
When you cannot directly make up for something to the person you hurt, a living amends is a decision to change your ongoing behavior in a way that is informed by the wrongdoing. Your 'living amends' is living in a way that that acknowledges the previous mistake by consistently living in a way that doesn't repeat it or compensates for it. Making amends requires the individual to correct their mistake. This action can demonstrate the person’s new way of life in recovery. It goes beyond simply apologizing to taking steps to right a wrong.
Different types of amends
With all those articles (that you should go back and check out if you haven't read them), it would be easy to assume we have said all there is to say. But if you are dealing with guilt and grief, you probably aren't surprised that there is more to say. Somehow in all this guilt writing, we have never talked about making amends with someone who died. It would be nice if the above outcomes were universal—but they aren’t (of course). Making amends won’t necessarily play out like the ending of a Hallmark movie.
For example, say that you stole $20 from your brother while you were using. In the midst of your ninth step, you say to him “I’m so sorry that I stole that money from you and used it for drugs”. A true amend would be giving him $20 back along with the apology. Unfortunately, there are many things that we do in our using that we can not rectify with tangible goods or direct amends. What about the late nights that we kept our parents up worrying? What about the relationships we ruined, the emotional wreckage we created?