About Me

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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Monday, August 13, 2007

An Introduction to Step 8

The way I did it was in three columns
1st column: Whom I harmed. (People, places and things.)
2nd column: The nature of the harm
3rd column: What did it feel like being THEM on the receiving end of my harmful actions?
or harmful OMISSION of actions?
How might I have felt if that had been done to me?
But more importantly, how did THEY feel?

This is an exercise in EMPATHY.
In placing oneself in the ROLE of another.
And seeing the world through THEIR eyes.
From a position we may NEVER have inhabited previously.
You have to get inside their skin.
Walk in their shoes.
See it from THEIR perspective.
In its full unadulterated emotional and mental glory.
Its often not a pretty sight.

Its not easy.
Harm is not such an easy concept.
Sometimes we are CONVINCED we have harmed another when in fact we HAVE NOT.
Sometimes we are CONVINCED we have NOT harmed another when in fact we HAVE.
Sometimes we are CONVINCED we have NOT harmed another, bacause THEY HARMED US and we imagine that that somehow invalidates any harm we might have done them.
This is why having a sponsor is so important.

Oh yeah and I do not NOT include myself as a person I have harmed. If you had even the slightest glimples of the RAMPANT SELFISHNESS of the average alcoholic, you would know why this is so laughably irrelevant.

Your sponsor should oversee your step 8 list from the word go, IN CASE YOU ARE DOING IT ALL WRONG. If you meet your sponsor once a week at a meeting, just bring the list along so she can look it over. That's all it takes, no big deal.


Personally. I can tell if the person writing the third column doesn't give a toss about the affect their actions have had on the people who were unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of their self centeredness.

I can just 'tell' when they finally DO manage to 'crawl inside the skin' of the person they harmed. I can just 'feel it' when that happens. And I can smell indifference and BS at 100 paces.
So I am a hard person to impress in this regard.
I do not accept anything less than a SINCERE and ACCURATE ESTIMATE of the EMOTIONAL harm they INFLICTED (knowingly OR unknowingly) on those they came into contact with.

Step 8 is a TOUGH one.
You finally get to see the lacerations and tears on the heartstrings of others. That is ENTIRELY down to YOUR ACTIONS. No one else's.
Plus emotional harm always f*cks people up in some way.
For instance:
It makes them insecure
It makes them doubt themselves
It makes them think they are BAD
It makes them think no one will love them
It makes them think they are SHIT
It makes them angry and frustrated
It makes it harder for them to perform theor obligations at work
It makes them drained
It makes them more likely to lash out at those closest to them
It increases their sense of shame
It makes them preoccupied and worried
It makes them withdraw into themselves
It makes them feel like they are bleeding inside
It makes them feel like they have been stabbed in the chest
It makes them feel like they have been punched in the stomach
It makes them frightened to ever trust another person
It makes them frightened to ever trust their own judgment
It makes them think that they deserved it
It makes them think that everyone knows how shabbily they have been treated
It makes them think that being treated like SHIT was NORMAL
It makes them afraid of getting close to another human being ever again
It makes them afraid of people
It makes them expect abuse
It makes them expect shabby treatment
It makes them give up
It breaks their heart
It makes them a nervous wreck
It makes them afraid all the time
It makes them afraid of being touched
It makes them afraid of sudden movements
It makes them lose faith in human nature
It brings them down and makes them negative
It makes them think "All men/women are bastards"
It makes them think "You can't trust anyone"
It makes them think "What's the point?""
It makes them cry
It makes them sad and they don't really know why they are sad. Its all just one BIG SAD FEELING that follows them around like a ghost
It makes them think they can never be themselves because they were so cruelly rejected in the past that they believe no one could ever truly love them
It makes them believe wholeheartedly, that they are unlovable
It make them think they are 'jinxed'
It make them think people are not very nice
It makes them think they are worthless
It makes them think other people can see that they are worthless
It makes them numb, because they cant deal with the feelings
It makes them feel like they are worse then others
It makes them frightened to talk to others about what is really going on, because hey are ashamed
It makes them feel as though the rug has been pulled from under them. (Hence the choice of photo above)

All these LOVELY observations, and MORE are part of the PICTURE YOU PAINT of 'what it was like being THEM. What did I actually DO to that person REALLY?
What did I really DO to that person???
What was the END RESULT of the actions, or OMISSION to act, that ENDED UP HARMING THAT PERSON?

So yeah. That's just how I did it. Hope that helps!
Yes Step 8 is a bit FULL ON and HEAVY. But that is as it should be.
Step 9 is a whole other ball of wax. Don't even THINK about it during step 8, as it will roadblock you.

Also here is a similar note from a guy who I knew from my old home group who went through the steps the same way I did.
Here is a link to his webpage on Step 8 from the website called "Misery is Optional"


Shannon said...

"Harm is not such an easy concept.
Sometimes we are CONVINCED we have harmed another when in fact we HAVE NOT.
Sometimes we are CONVINCED we have NOT harmed another when in fact we HAVE.
Sometimes we are CONVINCED we have NOT harmed another, bacause THEY HARMED US and we imagine that that somehow invalidates any harm we might have done them.
This is why having a sponsor is so important."
I looooooooooooove this!
Happy Monday!

Determined1 said...

Yeah I found this one hard, mainly because I was still very much caught up in the harm that someone else had done me, made it very difficult for me to 'see' the harms I done to others becuase I still felt winded. Facing up to harm to a parent was very humbling and made me see their fragility which was so sad.

johno said...

I found that my biggest roadbock to step8 was that I hadnt forgiven and I wasnt willing to forgive, them for what they had "done" to me, poor me jumped in. Hindsight if a wonderful thing at times.

Its only by going back to step4 and 5, and praying for ALL of them for nearly 18 moths, i got to that point wher i could walk in their shoes, really even though they didnt fit well and hurt, i tried 'em on and walked anyway.

I couldnt have done it without the Big Book step4 prayers "We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, "This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done."P67

and fear prayer "We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be" P68

I was alos shown to look at the harms during step 4 "We have listed the people we have hurt by our conduct, and are willing to straighten out the past if we can" P70

and step7 prayer

thanks for sharing your experience

Determined1 said...

ps I only just picked up your message re: banner for blog would be great and very kind of you to offer, especially as my blog is now aneamic :-)

doctor a said...

Wow! That's the best interpretation of and suggestion for doing Step Eight I've ever read. Most of us alcoholics and addicts know precious little about what it is like to experience genuine empathy for the pain the other person feels when we have harmed them. This is a powerful tool for learning something that is essential if we are ever going to be able to have healthier relationships in recovery.

Thanks for a great post.

Anonymous said...

You offer so much guidence. I have not got to step 8 yet but am gonna save this for ref. One of my GF went out as she was working on step 8, it was too much for her. Not sure how she approached it.

Thank you!

Shadow said...

it's very inetersting reading about the steps. you may or may not know, but me rehab didn't deal with the 12 steps, they followed a different programme. this concept was touched on, but only touched on. not nearly as indepth as you describe it. may i ask what the point of this step is? is it to right wrongs and work through our personal guilt feelings?

and to answer your question... yes, in about 2 months i should be off the anti-depressant. i feel i'm ready to try and ditch them and just see how it goes. make no mistake though, i'll go back to them if things start to bomb.

thanks for your stunning posts! i learn a lot from you every time you do!!!

Syd said...

Another great reference to have. I will surely use this when I get to Step 8. Thanks for sharing.

twodogsblogging said...

Wonderful post! I have 2 sponslings hung up on Step 8, this will no doubt get them off their duffs!