steps

Step 9: Made Direct Amends to Such People Wherever Possible (Part 1)

Asking My Ego to Never Deny Something

Yeah, that’s a huge part of my 8th and 9th steps. When my E.G.O. steps in, it’s a clear indication that I’m Easing God Out of my life (Good Orderly Direction). That is the ultimate denial of everything that I hold dear in my recovery and healing.

As long as I am not willing to make amends with someone, I am denying the reality of my responsibility in what occurred. And so long as I deny that, I can not move on and past it. I can not forgive myself.

It’s not easy coming to a place that you can actually do all this. And it happens on a different timeline for each person that I’ve harmed. Thank God I’ve been able to make a number of amends this past year. I’d like to talk about some of them amends I made…

Mrs. G. was a substitute of mine in 6th grade. One of my teachers were out on maternity leave and Mrs. G. stepped in. I was near the peak of my insanity. The abuse and sever neglect at home made me a terror. (Part of why I never wanted to teach was for fear of having a student like me. Forget about what it would bring up in me, it was more a matter of I wouldn’t know how to handle such a kid.) Additionally, I have always had authority issues… Poor Mrs. G. was my scapegoat. I mercilessly drove her to tears. Literally.

I can remember it crystal-clear. She was either teaching me math or science. Or maybe it was spelling? Whatever the case… during recess the main office’s secretary had left a pile of notices on the teachers desk to be distributed to the students. I have no recollection what the notice was about. All I know is that I took the pile to my desk and once class started I started making paper planes with a girl sitting next to me. At first we wrote little notes on them and flew them back and forth. Then a girl on the other side of me joined in with making paper boats. I was the center of major traffic and enjoying every moment of it.

At some point Mrs. G. started taking away the air and sea craft. Then she took away the pile of notices. Being off the wall, I just continued with regular loose-leaf paper. The pile on the teacher’s desk was getting higher and higher. At some point it toppled over, directly into the garbage can! We all had a hardy laugh. All but Mrs. G. She was helpless. I can still see that look in her eye of feeling trapped and hunted. It was one I knew all too well. She turned her back to the class and started writing on the board. I impudently stuck a paper on the wall and started an exaggerated mimicry of her. I had the class in uproar, exploding with laughter. Mrs. G. slowly turned around. She took stock of the situation, saw what I was up to, and her eyes filled with tears. She then turned and left the classroom shielding her face. There was pin-drop silence.

Even now, the sense of shame of what I did is so humiliating. I was horrified with myself, that I was able to shame and pain a person so publicly, and I couldn’t even identify why!

I know that was a defining moment for me. I knew that my conduct in school would have to change. I could never again deliberately shame or hurt any person of authority.

That being said, when I made my 8th step list I was rather concerned that I could never make amends to Mrs. G. All I had was her last name and the year that she substituted me. And I didn’t have the courage to track her down.

Around that time I was talking to an old friend, Hanny. We keep in touch here and there, though we are no way as close as we used to be. I mentioned that I wanted to make amends but couldn’t figure out how to go about it. Quite a bit of time passed since then, when Hanny called me one night. She had tracked Mrs. G. down for me! And it was no easy feat. She made the administration and business staff at the school crazy until she was able to procure a first name and a telephone number.

I am indebted to Hanny. I would never have had the courage to find it myself. As it is, it took me about a year to be able to act on the lead. I couldn’t bring myself to actually call her. I looked up her address and sent her a letter.

I must say that I was expecting some sort of relief. But that didn’t happen at all. There was no sudden relief. But, with time I came to realize that my shoulders weren’t just as tight as they were before. I found that the thought of meeting Mrs. G. in the street didn’t overwhelm me and make me want to either ignore her or turn and run in the opposite direction. I think I’d still be ashamed of what I did, but I’d feel fortunate to actually see her and to try to make up for it in person (even if I don’t have the guts to do it otherwise).

So that is the story of my amends with Mrs. G. Up next… my amends with Dave

As always, have a sober and serene day!
Judy

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