Most of us have struggled with relationships because we were not taught how to have relationships, and our addiction didn’t help! Step Eight challenges you not only to heal your current relationships, but to face your past and heal the relationships that have already been scarred by your addiction. Step Eight reinforces the importance of forming and keeping solid, healthy relationships. It introduces the very real possibility of forgiveness-from others as well as self-forgiveness. Juan was convinced that recovery couldn’t last without self-forgiveness:
It starts with that unification of self, and that’s huge. In time, I found that I really was taking responsibility for my behavior. For me now, the forgiveness of self is very closely linked to the forgiveness and acceptance of others around me.
If we are entitled to anything, it would be the gift of forgiveness. Steps Nine and Ten will offer you the freedom and opportunity to repair those relationships and to experience the reality of forgiveness in a most profound way.
All human beings are social creatures. We value and need relationships. That desire to connect is everywhere, even in the darkest bar or the grittiest part of town. That desire to connect is still alive even on the blackest days of your addiction or on the darkest day of your sobriety. Men want to be with others. We may not have learned how to be in relationships in the healthiest way, but we still want them. We may not be the best at asking for what we need, but we still have needs.
We regain our confidence in our ability to connect when we interact with one another before, during, and after meetings. We express ourselves and our affection for one another in a way that we may not have thought possible. We are reminded that, without meaningful relationships, life is miserable. With our recovery community, we can be “a part of” again. We can give ourselves the chance to feel, perhaps for the first time in our lives, that we’re part of a strong link in the human chain of connection. When you commit yourself to thoroughly and honestly working Step Eight, you move further down the path away from isolation and shame toward the healing power of loving relationships with other people and your Higher Power.
Excerpted from A Man’s Way through the Twelve Steps by Dan Griffin, M.A.