When I joined Al-Anon, I was in my Fifties and determined to help my daughter let go of her substance abuse disorder. But, oh, what a relief it’s been to let go of that obsession, which was becoming so shrill and counterproductive.
I was glad to turn the focus back on myself and learn that my faulty attitudes were the source of my pain, not the people around me.
Regarding the amends steps, it’s possible to overuse them, just as we might exaggerate our negative defects in the 4th step. I’ve done both! That’s why it’s so important to understand the purpose of amends: reaching personal freedom.
These are intended to be hopeful steps, not self-flagellation. Making this list and then acting on it is just another way to weed our garden. My partner is always reminding me to weed close to what we’re growing, so that nothing interferes with the growth of the plant.
Making amends is not always pretty, and rather than freedom I sometimes look for forgiveness and closure. With my daughter, Annie, she threw them right back in my face. But my sponsor helped me appreciate my efforts and then let them go.
My real reward has been surviving that loss without the need to punish myself for it. Truth is, I’m really not that important! Things happen in life, and it’s not always my fault.