In the last few days I have been the recipient of several apologies. At work, at home, and in cyberspace. I am not a real easy person to apologize to probably. And let me tell you why:
When I did the 9th step for the first time ever, I asked my sponsor where I should begin with my amends. Thank God she did not say something you might hear now, like "with yourself," because I have found that when a person starts the amends list with themselves, they tend to never move past that name.... but I digress. She told me to start with the hardest one. To start with the person I was most dreading approaching. So I did. I called my sister-in-law. I told her I wanted to talk. It was clear that all she would give me was a phone call, so I went ahead and told her what I needed to.
In my book she did not accept my amends. For every thing I told her, she said "oh, you did not," "no, that never happened," etc. She denied everything I tried to amend. I could not make amends for things that never happened. I did, however, try. That is all we can do. We can be willing and make that clear to the other person. I tried. And when she died in 1999, I was so incredibly glad that I had at least tried.
So - when someone apologizes, or makes amends for something, I have occasionally told them that I feel no amends are necessary. But more likely, I will accept their amends and I may even tell them more. I will not deny I was hurt if I was hurt. I don't think that serves anyone. It would be far easier to just say that everything is fine, no harm done. But that is not usually the case. I think it is important for alcoholics to be able to see how we hurt one another. We do it casually. I think, as a class, we are people with low self-esteem. I think there are few people as dangerous as people with low self-esteem... we think we don't count, so how could our actions actually matter to people, how can little-old-us hurt anyone? Well, we can, and we do.
As a person with long term sobriety, sometimes I feel that I have a target painted on me. People seem to love to pick on that. I am not behaving the way they think I should. Well, I am not one who says that I have all the answers. I am not one who says that I have all YOUR answers. I do not wax too philosophically here in my blog or in person. I pretty much stick to my own experience, strength, and hope. So what I share here is not usually esoteric opinions, or ideas. I am sharing my life. When someone picks on that it does hurt.
I think if I behaved as if I had all the answers due to my length of time of sobriety, I would deserve to be picked on... really, I do. I think if I wrote about generalities about what people ought to be doing, I would deserve to be picked on... really, I do.
But what I am doing is sharing my own experience, strength, and hope.
In the words of one of my favorite philosophers:
"Can we all get along?" -- Rodney King, May 1, 1992