Jack’s Perspective: Step 8

By Jack, Renascent Alumni

Step 8: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

Step 8 is a powerful step. It is where I take the results of my Step 4 and make a list of all those I have harmed in preparation to make amends. It was pointed out to me that most of the Steps (2-9) are linked in a two part process of part one being preparation and part two being action.

  • Step 2 = became willing to believe in power greater than ourselves, Step 3= we came to believe.
  • Step 4 = wrote inventory, Step 5 = shared inventory.
  • Step 6 = were ready to have defects removed, Step 7 = asked god to remove them.
  • Step 8 = made a list of those we harmed, Step 9 = make amends for those harms. 

For this reason I find it difficult to talk about Step 8 without getting into Step 9.

I found this Step to be scary and exciting all at the same time, because I was tired of carrying the shame and guilt from my addicted life and was also excited to be free of it. But first, I had to look long and hard at my Step 4 inventory and figure out which amends I should do first, which ones need time and reflection, which ones couldn’t be made directly, and how I could make up for that.

I did this by having conversations with my sponsor about each person on the list and the harm I caused, what the amends would sound and look like, and if it was appropriate to even make them. We went over my list and chose five big ones for me to write and make to get the ball rolling. I decided to do the hardest ones first to break the ice, thinking that if I got those out of the way, the rest would be that much easier.

My sponsor asked me to make a list of the amends that I was willing to make and ones that I was not. I thought that just sounded like extra steps and said I was willing to make them all.

My sponsor asked if I was ready to make amends to a toxic ex of mine and I said no. So upon closer reflection there were a few that I was not quite ready to face, so I went ahead and made that list he told me to make.

I started with the five hard ones that I was willing to do. They were to my mother, brother, son, wife, and a graveside amends to my father. It was one of the moments when I really began to feel the program working in my life. It was as though several large weights had been lifted off me and I felt noticeably better about myself. 

I felt lighter and purer. I had a really intense feeling of knowing that I was going to make it to Step 12, and completing Step 8 was a great moment in my recovery journey.

I have a few amends on that list that I am still unwilling to make. My sponsor instructed me to pray for the willingness to make them and I am still doing that for the time being. But I know if I wait too long I will start to feel the pain again and I don’t want that.

Perhaps me being asked to write this is God’s way of lighting a fire under me to get back to the list.

About the Authors

Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.