The Right-Now-Me would like to tell Back-Then-Me not to try making amends until my internal feud subsided.
It's very possible that that makes no sense to anyone but me. I'm just hoping someone might be able to pick up what I'm laying down here.
When I got sober at the age of 24, I was sure that I was ready. I had been through hell and found myself in places that made hell look like the Betty Ford. The Betty, by the way, is my idea of a fancy place. I haven't been there because (yet) because no one has ever thought it was a good idea to send my addicted self to a 30 day Pilates class. I may or may not be harboring resentments over that. There's nothing like blogging to make me wonder if I've permanently damaged my brain. I was supposed to be talking about amends, right? Thanks, drugs.
Back to my point. When I made my amends in my early 20's, my brain knew what to do, yet I couldn't emotionally connected with purpose. I knew that I was apologizing for things I had done that were "wrong" and that's about it. I even felt remorse over a lot of those things. The problem was that I had not yet learned how to live amends which caused a variety of different responses from people. This was back in the days of MySpace, which is how I was able to find people. There was one guy who I had dated and I knew it had ended badly. Unfortunately I didn't remember any of the details (again, thanks, drugs) so I went about writing him a message that may have come across as flippant. I'll have to paraphrase, but it probably went something like this:
"Hey, I don't remember exactly what I did
to you, but I'm pretty sure you didn't like
it. I'm really sorry about that."
His response was something like this (sadly, I'm not paraphrasing here):
"I really don't know how to respond to
this, as seeing the name Dayna Keyes in
my inbox made my nuts jump into my
I don't know exactly what he meant by that, but I'm guessing it wasn't a compliment. (Full disclosure: I did kind of take it as a compliment.) I'm pretty sure the reason he wasn't able to accept my apology is because I wasn't really making one. I was offering lip service, which is how I did the majority of my amends.
The difference between then and now is that this time I FELT those amends. And I mean REALLY FELT THEM. Sorry about the caps; I'm writing this on a phone because I'm a lazy schmuck sometimes and I really needed to emphasize those words.
This time, when I made my amends, even the smallest ones had me reduced to tears. Simply saying "I'm really sorry about being unavailable to you when you needed me" was almost unbearable. That's because I learned to let my guard down for long enough to feel how the recipients of my amends must have felt when I had wronged them. And it HURT. The last thing I'd ever want to do is cause someone else to feel sad, but you'd never know that from the way I acted.
I'll share this one story before signing off. After I made my amends to my 91 year old grandmother, she simply held my hand and said "I love you." And I sobbed uncontrollably because how unbelievably lucky am I to still have people who love me after all I've put them through? I feel gratitude beyond words right now. If this makes sense to just one person, I'll be happy.
Check out this Episode we recently released with Justin P to hear his take on the amends process.
You can hear Dayna's Radio Rehab Show on iTunes & Stitcher Radio: