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How to Make Amends

answered 05:52 PM EST, Mon October 07, 2013
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anonymous anonymous
Hello Anna. I enjoyed your article on shame. It hit very close to home for me. I broke into a neighbors down the roads home 2 years ago when I knew they were gone to the cottage. They are a nice older couple who did not deserve what I did. The worst thing is I did not just steal I also broke some things for no reason. I do not know why I did this. I was high on crack and I was not thinking about anyones but my own needs. This is the worst thing I have ever done. I want to make amends but I do not know how. I am a new dad now so I cannot just turn myself in to them or to the police since I need to be here providing for my son. I am 4 months clean but it is not easy. I am doing this on my own. Can you give me an idea about what I should do to make amends. The other thing I wonder about is if I should wait for longer before I try to make amends. I feel a lot of shame but I am also not feeling very strong and clean.

Anna Deeds Says...

Anna Deeds A. Deeds
MSED, NCC, LPC

Thank you for your question and I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Congratulations on your sobriety and having a son. First, I wouldn't suggest making amends so early in recovery. Done the wrong way, an amends can make you feel worse and lead to a relapse. Making amends is the 8th and 9th Step in a 12 Step program. The Steps were written in a particular order and were meant to be completed in that order for a reason. It gives you time in your recovery so you are ready to make amends. You would have also completed other Steps which would help you be in the right place emotionally and mentally to make amends. Second, I don't recommend you do it alone. You need some guidance to make amends. If you are not working a 12 Step program, I suggest you find support somewhere that would be similar to a sponsor. We don't always think clearly in early recovery. The brain and body are still healing. Plus, someone outside of the situation might have a better perspective. This person could also go with you to make amends to support you in the process.

Another part of making amends is considering whether the amends would "injure them or others." You have to consider if it would do more harm to the person by bringing up the past. This is why some amends are made indirectly. You can make amends by living a better life, helping in the community or helping the person anonymously.

I don't want to down play the shame you are feeling but I would like to point out that you are a decent person. If you weren't a good person, you wouldn't feel badly for what you did. Remember, drug use damages our brains. We do things in active addiction we would never normally do. Don't be too hard on yourself. Part of recovery is forgiving yourself for the mistakes of the past too. 

You said you are doing this alone. I just want to let you know that you don't have to. There are lots of addicts out there who are in recovery and will understand what you are going through. Many addicts find other recovering addicts to be like family. You help each other stay clean. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. The person in early recovery is helped by the person with years in recovery and the person with years clean is helped by the newcomer. A newcomer can benefit from the knowledge, experience and support of someone with more clean time. And the person with clean time can benefit from feeling useful, helpful and by remembering what it was like to be in active addiction so they won't think about going back there.

I hope this helps answer your question and I wish you the best in recovery.

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Page last updated Oct 07, 2013

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