I got to make an amends today. I had treated somebody badly because I had some bad information. Well, maybe it was more like incomplete information. I had acted in anger about the situation and blamed this person for it. I mean, I didn’t hit him or steal anything or kidnap his kids, but I really didn’t treat him in the way that I should have. It’s taken a long time to understand the underlying reality of the situation and why he acted the way he did. So, after taking care of business with my boundaries with another party, I felt totally convicted that I needed to apologize to this man.
There are times that I don’t like to say that I’m sorry or admit I’m wrong. Most of the time I feel stupid or mean, and I don’t really want to admit that I didn’t show up in kindness and grace. If I say I’m sorry, I’m still in so much shame for not being perfect that it’s more of a begging for forgiveness so I can clean up my mess. But there are times that I understand exactly where I messed up and why, and I just feel guilty. When I feel guilt as opposed to shame, I can show up and right the things I did wrong in confidence. That’s how I felt today, and it felt really, really good. We had a nice long conversation afterwards and cleared up misunderstandings on both sides. I still have a bit of an afterglow.
This week I’ve had a chance to practice boundary-setting, conflict management and making amends. All three are very difficult emotional conversations. My bout with the paramedics last week was the catalyst that made me realize that I had some work to do, and I needed to do it cleanly and swiftly or I was going to suffer for it. I went from an all-time low to feeling a surge of power rise up inside of me that gave me the power to overcome some really big fear. I have to acknowledge what an accomplishment this was for me because – dammit – I deserve a pat on the back. I prayed a lot, meditated and waited for answers and connected with people that love me to provide me support.
I feel a lot of closure right now. I love closure in relationships and conflict. I don’t often get it. It was one of the hardest things to give up on after my divorce. I think I longed for a conversation or series of conversations where we understood each other and could close it out. Many of my friends struggle with the same things when relationships end or when they are fighting with a partner or friend. I recognize their rehashing of the argument and explanations as attempts to somehow get some closure so that their insides will calm down. I know that my gut gets all twisted when I’m in conflict with somebody and can’t get closure. I hate that feeling more than the fighting itself. At least the fighting somehow feels powerful as I’m taking my stand. Needing closure feels like I’m begging for something that I may never get. It’s a much more vulnerable position.
I believe this is why recovery programs emphasize the process of making amends. As addicts, we can’t stand those feelings of vulnerability and fear, and we often use over them. If we’re codependent, we keep trying to make it right by doing things for them or apologizing or even picking more fights because it feels more powerful. If we’re a food addict, we’ll eat sugar and high-fat foods to try to settle our stomach. If we choose other substances, we just don’t want to feel, and we’ll use to change our mood. If we didn’t have the step of making amends, there would be a lot of stuff left without closure. We do a lot of damage to our relationships. I mean, everybody does a lot of damage to relationships – addict or not – but we make things even worse. So, the amends step helps to clean some of that up, close out some lingering emotional debt and gives us practice on a way to move forward in the future with integrity by taking responsibility for our actions. Knowing that I will have to make amends later often stops me from doing things that might hurt someone. But, if I do it anyway, I can lovingly clean it up afterwards.
I don’t know if I’m glad the last 7 days happened the way they did, but I’m glad they are over. Tomorrow will probably start a whole new pile of garbage, but at least I feel like I have a clean slate and a new, improved operating plan. I understand a little better where I begin and the other people end and where my responsibility and my boundaries lie. I’ll bet I sleep good tonight. That wild boar turned out to be quite the teddy bear in the end. Who would have known he’d be so comforting.