Sometimes when we think of Step 8, we focus exclusively on making a list of all the people we have harmed and becoming willing to make amends to them. That is, of course, a critical piece of the repentance process and the work we are doing with the Steps. But it is interesting to see that the ARP Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing first devotes significant time to the importance of identifying those we need to forgive and forgiving them.
Why are we asked to focus on forgiveness first? The Guide says that it is important to do this so that we are not distracted by resentments when we try to list those we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them. That is an important reason, but I think there is another.
We are about to ask someone to forgive us. We are about to ask someone we have harmed in some way to accept our apology and let go of any feelings of resentment they might have towards us. That might be a very hard thing for some people to do. Perhaps they have been hurt multiple times by us. Perhaps we have promised to change in the past, maybe more than once. Perhaps there is broken trust between us that will be difficult to rebuild.
If I have just been through the forgiveness process myself, I can have empathy for those to whom I am trying to make amends. I can look them sincerely in the eye and tell them that I know I am asking a hard thing of them. And I also will know how relieved they will be when the burden of resentment they have been carrying is lifted.
What resentments are you carrying that you are ready to let go of?