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
The Old Highway – Just One Big Loop?
Most of us spend our lives in addiction traveling the same roads and highways. It’s evident that we take the same route each time in our addiction – dope dealer then home to use.
Then we cry and moan when we 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 or dead-end.
You don’t have to stay trapped in the loop of addiction; travel that road again in your recovery and see what you missed on the first trip.
It’s All Behind Me, Right?
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. Also, 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?
- Have an elderly neighbor who could use your help taking in the groceries?
- Does your co-worker need help, a kind word, or acknowledgment of a job well done?
- Could our families use more of our support? We are not the only ones that need a supportive recovery meeting.
Same Road-Different Purpose
Is it time to think about all the missed opportunities, the times we were too busy for our families, or the times 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. We have our amends list and know who we need to contact.
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, in recovery.
In doing this, we begin to view these stops as part of our healing and spiritual growth. If we didn’t travel that road again, we would miss the opportunity to revisit all those people we took for granted, used, or harmed.
Take this opportunity today to look in the metaphorical rear-view mirror. 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?
Living our Amends
Recovery is about considering the other person, making amends, and asking for and giving forgiveness. 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, we cannot grow spiritually without traveling that road again and repairing the damage.
When we travel that road again, acknowledging our wrongs, take responsibility for our actions, and then make 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 differently.
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. Family and friends get to see our better actions, attitudes, and how we’ve changed. That alone makes the return trip to make amends worth overcoming our fear of rejection.
Seeing the Road Differently
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 to make 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 there is nothing we can do to make a situation better.
If the guilt over actions motivates you to make amends, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many people are receptive to your efforts.
The Road to Success Begins with our Recovery
“The road is there, it will always be there. You just have to decide when to take it.” – Chris Humphrey
In recovery, we backtrack on the road to find those people we owe 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, but I made an effort, which was the lesson.
Travel That Road Again
Traveling that highway again, I got to grow spiritually from those experiences. I like the reflective quality of these lyrics and hope they help you frame going down that road also.
“Now he might not like what I’m about 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
Writing and recovery heal the heart.
Leave me a comment on how you’ve traveled that road again and made amends.