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Loving Amends

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Why did I feel like eating? I was working on my Eighth and Ninth Steps—that should have been a clue right there—and I just could not get rid of the hatred I felt toward my grandmother. “Boys don’t cry!”—that’s what she said! So I ate instead, up to over 400 pounds (181 kg)! I knew I wasn’t supposed to hate her, so I said I simply had no respect for her.

Someone close to me suggested I look at “Forgiveness Inventory” in Lifeline (Aug 1999, p. 18, and Sept/Oct 2012, p. 10). She was telling me about how helpful it had been. I practically bit her head off. The problem with my grandmother was that I didn’t do anything to her; I was only a kid. I didn’t owe her any amends.

So why was she even on my list? Because she was taking up room in my head. For my peace of mind and so I wouldn’t pick up the food, I needed to forgive her for how she had treated me. And yes, I needed to forgive myself for hating her.

“Forgiveness Inventory” said to begin by writing down everything my grandmother did to me—to hold nothing back, get it all out, and take her inventory. This was for me; no one else had to see this. I didn’t need to be afraid here because God already knew what was in my heart.

The second part was to write down what I had done, even if I hadn’t done anything back then because I was only a child. (No matter because this was an amends to me.) My part was that I had held onto the hatred for so long and had spoken negatively of her.

The third part was to write a letter from her to me. (If I could not yet do this, then I would have to go back to see what my part was.) It was in writing this letter that a switch was flipped, and I was transformed.

The last part was to write a letter to my Higher Power asking for the willingness to forgive my grandmother and for direction in my next course of action.

I didn’t want to do any of it! As I said, it was all her fault. But, I had made a commitment to go to any length, so I asked my Higher Power for help.

As I began to write a letter from my grandmother to me, I starting feeling something I had never felt before, and I started seeing the situation from her eyes. Maybe it wasn’t all about me. Maybe her situation wasn’t what she wanted, and she didn’t know any other way. Maybe she and I weren’t all that different. I would like to share the letter with you.

Dear John,
I need to let you know how much I love you. I did the best I could with you under the circumstances. I did not like my life. I had to move from your home to my other son’s home and your cousin’s home. I did not like staying in these places and not having a real home. I was treated as an interloper. I love you, and I want you to understand that I was treating you the best I could. I was told not to feel; I was told to be good; I was told that I was my husband’s wife, and I did what he told me to. So when your father would tell your mother what to do and she would not, I hated it, and I thought she was wrong.  When they would have a yelling fight, of course I was going to side with my son, your father. When you were crying, I told you what I was told: you do not cry if you are a man and do not let anyone know how you feel. I did not mean to hurt you. I was just saying what I was taught. I love you and I always have.
Your loving Grandmother

Wow!

Next, in writing the letter to my Higher Power I realized that I do love her. I don’t like what she did and how I felt and all that, but she is my grandmother and I love her. All those years I had carried bad memories of her in my head and ate over the mean things she said . . . Poof! Gone! This program is amazing. I love the power of forgiveness.

— John C., Western Massachusetts USA

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