Editor’s note: Fellows share their experience with Step 8 and the spiritual principle of Love.
We make amends when we have done harm, not because we have hard feelings. When writing my 8th step list, I remember my sponsor saying “Stop negotiating.”
When it comes to Step 8, we often hear in the rooms, “it’s just a list!” The implication is that there is no heavy lifting to this step, just the part where we put pen to paper and transfer our “my part” column from our 4th step into an action plan for our 9th step. And that’s a great plan for those of us who are first going through the Steps
But over time, Step 8 has become a painful but fruitful study of where I am responsible for the conflict and chaos in my relationships with others. People who have grappled with creating chaos * while sober * know the pain of getting real with our part in a messy relationship. The goal of this process isn’t to “fix this relationship,” the goal is to know myself so that I can learn how to get right with the world. For me, it’s not easy to reflect on how I continue to harm myself and others, in big and small ways. That has turned out to be the heaviest lifting of all. The remaining steps are the only antidote.
Step 8 is the second Step after Step 4 the program actually asks you to write. Hopefully you’ve still got the list from your 5th Step. And what kind of amends are owed. If not, make the list and consult with your sponsor. Making a list is fun. It is proactive. Like a shopping list. It’s also unsentimental. It is something that needs to get done. Easy. No emotions. Cry later. Step 8 is the facilitator for step 9. Preparation. A moment to breathe. A sweet luxury that Bill included in his interpretation of the Oxford Group tenants.
– Julia K.