An alcoholic has wrecked havoc in relationships by the time they get sober. Making amends is something that every twelve step program encourages the recovering problem drinker to work toward.
Basically, I would just like to point out something I feel is extremely important to understand.
An amend does not always need to be made in a verbal manner.
Changed behavior over an extended period of time should and does carry a lot of weight in my opinion when it comes to this subject.
You see, my mother quit drinking and stayed sober by participating in the AA program and through working the twelve steps. From the time I was five years old until about age seventeen my mother had battled with alcoholism. Once in the AA program, she remained sober for over twenty five years.
Although she never made a direct, “formal” amend for her horrible behavior during those years of drinking, her change in behavior over many years was suitable in my eyes as a non-verbal amend. The beauty of the new creation she had become, with Gods help, far outweighed the destruction that had been inflicted during her drinking days.
Over time I became very forgiving because the alcoholic’s behavior
had totally changed when she got sober. There was, however, a trial period of trust that had to run its natural coarse.
The old saying; “actions speak louder than words” is a good one that applies perfectly to an alcoholic making amends. A casual; “I’m sorry for what I did” will never outweigh the black and white personality change that can occur when someone truly surrenders their life to the care of God.
The very nature of God is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and self control. As the recovering problem drinker continues to grow in their relationship with God the more prevalent “His” personality attributes begin to shine through them.
Why is making an amend so important?
Because of past injuries, alcoholics, their friends or relatives have a tendency to carry feelings of guilt, anger, disappointment and shame in their lives. These negative emotions are the results of various instances that have occurred during the drinking days of the alcoholic or throughout the term of the relationship.
Perhaps because something was stolen, the victim holds a grudge and the thief lives with the guilt of what they have done. Maybe verbal, mental, spiritual or physical abuse by one or both parties is why an amend is necessary.
Through the years, mounds of resentments and hurt feelings grow inside of us and they must be removed by choosing to forgive and admitting to the wrongs that we have done. These are the only two things that truly work!
There are thousands of reasons why healing in a relationship needs to happen.
Forgiveness and amends go hand-in-hand in this healing process. If we are the one making an amend, we must abandon feelings of being rejected by an alcoholic. Making an amend is all about keeping our lives clean of all the negative emotional clutter. We have no control over how they will react.
The perfect scenario for healing to occur in an alcoholic relationship is when both people are working a twelve step program. For the sober person there is Alcoholics Anonymous and for their friends or relatives there’s Al-anon.
May I encourage you to keep an open mind and to NOT “expect” that the recovering alcoholic in your life is going to make a verbal amend to you. Expectations only lead to resentments. Instead, over time, embrace the beautiful person that they have become through staying sober. If making a verbal acknowledgment to you of their wrongs becomes an important part of their recovery, then go with the flow. Otherwise, let go and let God handle things in His perfect timing.