“The main thing [the Eighth Step] does for us is to help build awareness that, little by little, we are gaining new attitudes about ourselves and how we deal with other people.”Basic Text, p.38
To say “I’m sorry” probably isn’t such a foreign idea to most of us. In our active addiction, it may have been a very familiar phrase. We were always telling people how sorry we were, and were probably deeply surprised when someone, tired of our meaningless apologies, responded with, “You sure are. In fact, you’re the sorriest excuse for…” That may have been our first clue that an “I’m sorry” didn’t really make any difference to those we harmed, especially when we both knew that we’d just do the same thing again.
Many of us thought that making amends would be another “I’m sorry”. However, the action we take in those steps is entirely different. Making amends means to make changes and, above all, to make the situation right. If we stole money, we don’t just say, “I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again now that I’m clean”. We pay the money back. If we neglected or abused our families, we don’t just apologize. We begin to treat them with respect. Amending our behavior and the way we treat ourselves and others is the whole purpose of working the steps. We’re no longer just “sorry”, we’re responsible.
Just for today: I accept responsibility for myself and my recovery. Today, I will amend some particular thing I’m sorry for.