I realized some amazing things as I made a list of the people harmed by my addictions. I came to grips with how amazing it was that I was ever loved by anyone, considering the selfish ways I treated other people. I saw that — when I came face-to-face honestly with the truth of my addictions — I wasn’t loved because I deserved it, but because God and others saw me from a perspective of love. This made me value my relationships like a precious gift. Now, with every ounce of diligent response-ability I can muster, I view others lovingly, as others have done for me.
"Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider,
an outsider you will remain."
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory pg 154
We set realistic boundaries for ourselves, and we accepted boundaries others placed on us. First, we became willing to make amends to others. Real hope for reconciliation requires that we be willing to make our amends unconditionally. Second, we became willing to accept healthy limitations and to make living amends by the way we relate to others in the future. There is little value in professing good intentions. There is much greater value when we live our lives in healthy socially responsible ways, letting the authenticity of our changing life speak for us. If we refuse the opportunity to right a wrong, we shut the doors and windows of the spiritual home God is building within us. Nothing gets in, nothing gets out. Darkness closes in and we miss the leading of God’s Spirit. We simply create more of the chaos that we are trying to avoid.
It’s quite easy to agree intellectually with the facts of our wrongdoing, to look past our mistakes and not be responsive to the hurt others feel because of us. Intellectualizing our lives disconnects us from feeling our emotions. It blocks our ability to connect with others. It reduces our amends to little more than a narcissistic continuation of the selfishness we claim we want to be free of. A recovering man, however, moves from his head to his heart and from his heart to his feet, where reconciliation with others is made step-by-step. With our feet placed firmly on God and within a fellowship of support and accountability, we find stability to live response-ably. As we are willing to accept responsibility for our life, good and bad, we are better able to know ourselves like God knows us. As we’re willing to know and own ourselves, both good and bad, we will live in reality, the place where God lives.
By the time I was an adult, my resentments had rooted so deeply that I was no longer consciously aware I felt the way I did. My anger had become internalized, fueling the fires of my addictions. One day in a counseling session my counselor had me read something written by someone in their early recovery. By the time I read the third sentence I broke in tears, and it took me several minutes to compose myself. Waiting patiently, the counselor asked me what I was feeling. The only response I could give her was that I had been waiting all of my life for the freedom these words expressed. Later that day I went home and wrote the following.
I will not be judged for what happened to me, but I will be judged by how I let it affect my life and how my life affects others. I am responsible for my actions, for what I do with what I know. I am not to blame for what happened to me as a child. I cannot change the past, but as God is my strength, I can change my future and I can assist others with their future. I have chosen to be healed and to take full advantage of the opportunities to be healed. As I heal, I choose to pass this healing onto my children, my family and to others. The ripples of healing in the pond of my life will spread throughout future generations."