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Ready or Not

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Last year, I reached Step Nine and had seven amends to make. I made five of them months ago. The two that are left are my parents, and to be honest, the only reason I haven’t made amends with my dad is because I consider them a package deal. So the amends I’m stalling on is to my mother.

“I’m not ready,” I said a year ago and put it out of my mind. But with some changes looming on the horizon, I see that it’s now time to revisit this idea. It’s time to address what has been holding me back from what is probably my most important amends, and I’ve made a few important realizations.

I’ve realized that I don’t know quite what to say. I know that my behavior toward her has been unacceptable. I’ve been rude, inconsiderate, hurtful, selfish, and cruel. I have manipulated her, shamed her, and been more disrespectful than I’d ever consider being toward anyone else. I want my apology to be heartfelt and sincere. The trouble is that even though I have made great strides in understanding and working through my feelings about our relationship, I believe I am less than “half way through” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 83). Plus, part of me doesn’t want to make the apology until it’s perfect, until it slides easily off my tongue with eloquence and grace, but that’s a long way away. In fact, I may never get to that place, but I see now that any apology, however imperfect, is a start on that path.

I also don’t want to admit I was wrong. Coupled with this, I feel resentful about apologizing to her when I feel she should also be apologizing to me. But I was wrong, and I know it and she should know it, even if it hurts my pride. Whether she apologizes is irrelevant—I need to clear my side of the street. All I can do is apologize for my part. What she does with that information, and what she chooses to do about her part, is her business.

So I’ve decided to do it today, and I know it won’t be perfect. I know it will be rushed and awkward. I know that I won’t apologize for everything that I should. None of these things are ideal, but if I wait for the apology to be perfect, I will surely be waiting a long time, so I’m getting started. There will be things left unsaid and more amends to make, but let’s get the ball rolling.

As much as I have fought the idea of doing this, the truth is it can only make things better. I will feel good to have made some progress with my program. I will feel good to have made the amends. She will feel good having received the apology. There is no downside to this. The feelings that are holding me back—fear, pride, resentment, anger—these are character defects. I will ask for them to be removed. They are only standing in the way of my growth.

I remember hearing ages ago that the Twelve Steps aren’t really like stairs but more like an escalator. You go up them, but they are always cycling around so when you get to the top, you are back at the bottom, and then you go up again. I know I will stumble on this Step a little today, but it will come around again. If I instead choose to stand still on Step Eight, I will never get anywhere. I need to keep moving up.

— Fiona, New Zealand

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