By: Marilyn L. Davis
“It’s about making a list of all the people you’ve harmed, either emotionally, physically or financially, and going back and making amends. That’s a spiritual lifestyle. It’s not a fluffy ethereal concept.” ― Anthony Kiedis, lead singer, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and author of Scar Tissue
Same Road – Just One Big Loop?
Most of us spend our lives traveling the same roads. It’s obvious that in our addiction, we take the same road each time. Then we cry and moan when we get to the end and discover that we’ve just gone round in a circle ending up where we started, wondering how it got so bad. But that’s the cycle of addiction:
- It’s always about us – our needs, our wants, and our priorities.
- We can’t take advantage of life’s opportunities.
- Fears and unresolved issues drive us.
- We continue to hurt our loved ones.
- Addiction is the never-ending circle, cycle or dead-end.
Rather than be trapped in the loop of addiction, travel that road again and see what you missed on the first trip.
Same Road with Purpose
In our recovery, we purposefully make a return trip on our familiar road because it gives us the opportunity to stop and acknowledge all the times that we bypassed something just to get on with using. Is it time to think about all the missed opportunities, the times we were too busy for our families, or the times that we operated from character defects and not spiritual principles?
We have to stop long enough to ask ourselves what we missed on the road in our haste to get high.
Too often in early recovery, we assume that we will not have to travel that road again. We think we have left our troubles and problems behind us. There is some truth to this assumption.
We are no longer using drugs and alcohol, yet we still have the wreckage of our past, strewn along the roadside. In addition, there were other lessons along that highway that we failed to learn in our haste to use. In recovery, we look at the needs, problems and troubles of others – what about the friend who could use our help with cleaning gutters or the neighbor struggling to take groceries into the house. Could we help them?
We now have time to give our co-workers a shoulder to cry on, a kind word, or acknowledgement of a job well done.
Could our family use more of our support in their recovery? We are not the only ones that need a recovery supportive meeting.
The Road to Amends
Traveling that road again, we begin to see that others are important. We stop long enough to see them, help them, and interact with our fellow travelers and we begin to view these stops as part of our healing and spiritual growth.
Recovery is about considering the other person, making amends, and asking for forgiveness. If we didn’t travel that road again, we would miss the opportunity to revisit all of those people that we took for granted, used, or harmed.
Living our Amends
In addition to the summary quote, Anthony Kiedis wrote, “That’s a spiritual lifestyle, being willing to admit that you don’t know everything and that you were wrong about some things.”
If we consider our life in our addiction, we realize that we created chaos, caused harm, and did damage. While we can pretend that we’re leaving it all behind, without traveling that road again and repairing the damage, we cannot grow spiritually. But acknowledging our wrongs, taking responsibility for our actions and then making amends, we repair the damage.
A New Agenda for our Travels
Most of us have strained relationships with family, friends and employers. We lied to them, often stole from them, and for many of us, these relationships seemed too damaged to repair. When we make changes in our recovery and return to these people, we interact with them on a different footing.
We can now arrange to pay them back, start keeping promises, and quit manipulating them for self-serving gains. Therefore, we revisit these relationships in recovery and let them see the changes we have made in our lives.
When we face our fears and go to people to make amends, they often come away with a different perception of us, one based on our newest actions, not just our addiction and shortcomings. This gives them and us an opportunity to have better memories of our interactions with them.
Traveling that road again, we see all the blessings and opportunities we missed in our use. We are fortunate that we have a second chance to travel that road again.
When we revisit people with the purpose of making amends, we discover that many of them are still supportive of us, even though our actions angered them.
Without making the trip again, we can create the illusion that we’ve moved forward in our lives. Yet many will still have guilt, remorse and regrets. We know we missed something when we hurriedly traveled the road before.
The Road to Success Begins with our Recovery
In recovery, we backtrack on the road to find those people that we owe an amends to, and we willingly and gratefully take part in the experience. We understand that traveling the road again will give us spiritual lessons.
I have been down that road in my addiction and retraced my journey in my recovery. Some people were no longer here to make amends to; they had died from their addictions. Others wanted nothing to do with me even in my recovery. Some have come around over time. Others I never could find.
Travel That Road Again
But I made the effort to travel that highway again and grow spiritually from all the experiences. I like the reflective quality of these lyrics and hope they help you frame traveling that road again.
“Now he might not like what I’m bout to say
And my words might make him sore
But I’m just trying to be helpful
‘Cause I been down that road before”
~Hank Williams, Been Down That Road Before
See that road you’ve traveled?
- What did you miss because of your addiction?
- Is there a person back there that you need to revisit?
- What spiritual lessons will you learn when you travel the road again?
Writing, and recovery heals the heart.