Ain’t it grand the wind stopped blowin’? (Rebuilding Trust, part 1 – the alcoholic’s part)

Probably my second favorite passage from the Big Book comes on pages 82-83, as it discusses the amends process. Step nine is a vital part of recovery and “if we are painstaking about this phase of our development”… well, we will be at peace with our past, our insecurities will disappear and we will not have irrational fears. And no, I don’t find these to be extravagant promises because they do materialize when I work for them. This part of the program truly is hard work, though, because it can often feel like the whole world is against you.

Alcoholics wreak havoc wherever they go. They destroy lives, betray trust, lie, cheat, steal and all manner of mean and nasty stuff. After years of this behavior, family & friends, employers, cops, pets, etc. are often skeptical of a true conversion. To a newly sober alcoholic desperately trying his best to completely rewire his whole life towards stability, accountability, honesty and all these traits he’s never known, this skepticism is a reflection of his own self-doubt. When his attempts to make amends fall short of the family’s misguided expectation that everything will turn into an episode of “The Cosby Show” or “Father Knows Best,” the alcoholic can easily find himself frustrated, depressed or angry believing that even with his best efforts he will never be able to fix the damage done, so what’s the point? Well, “the point is that we’re willing to grow along spiritual lines […] we claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.” Every time that question is asked, the alcoholic should remember these words. He should have a pretty good handle on not drinking and a pretty solid foundation to help him through the amends process. It can still get to us, though, when even after years of recovery some still refuse to forgive us.

No matter the difficulty, it is the alcoholic’s duty to regain the trust of those he has harmed. “We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough. He is like the farmer who came up out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined. To his wife, he remarked, ‘Don’t see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain’t it grand the wind stopped blowin’?’” Even in places where others are far more to blame for the ruined relationship, sitting there blaming others is not going to get anyone sober. No, the point of this process is to become at peace with myself. If there is a relationship in my life which troubles me, I am responsible for doing whatever it takes to give myself closure. The ideal situation would be everyone living together in harmony, but this is real life and not fairyland, so that’s not always possible. For that reason, closure can come in many different ways. There are some amends I have made where I just had to close the door on a relationship because healing it would mean I had to compromise myself in ways I simply couldn’t. “We should be sensible, tactful, considerate and humble without being servile or scraping. As God’s people we stand on our feet; we don’t crawl before anyone.”

My name is Laurie and I am an alcoholic. I am well aware of the damage I have left in my wake. I have made amends and I continue to make living amends. Through this process, I have proven to myself and to those around me that I am not the woman I used to be; that I have a place in this world and that my experiences can benefit others.

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