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Amends vs. Restitution | One Addicts Experience


Coming to Step Eight and Nine, my sponsor was careful and very deliberate to explain the difference between restitution and amends, because of common misconceptions. The lesson was that restitution is an aspect of guilt. It was things that I'd done that were connected to specific and quantifiable actions, at specific dates, times, and places; that caused pain. Amends is an aspect of shame. It's vaguer... one plus one doesn't equal two... it's about how we show up, how people subjectively felt about it, and the tears we cause as a result, that caused suffering.


For me, I made restitution to my family and paid back every dime that I had stolen as a teenager. But the amends was different cause it's how we live forward in a way that dissolves the shame. That part wasn't so tangible. One aspect, in particular, was related to my own recovery.


My brother had literally said on numerous occasions, "Why do you keep going to those meetings? It was just a phase. You're not like them. You've run away with the circus. It's time to grow up and come home." In this particular case, the amends and healing are not what I'd hoped they would be. The fantasy was that Paul and I would function like brothers, especially after our Mom died. It didn't work out as I hoped.


The amends turned out to be me being true to myself and his kid brother, and not wavering from reality based on his sentimental ideas of who he thinks I ought to be, based on his personal ideas of what a successful person looks like.


For me, I've discovered freedom within my experience, outside of his approval system, that as kids I used to cling to like a life preserver, for my identity. Regardless of whether or not he approves of my choices and decisions, I accept and respect his and have continued forward on my path. That hasn't been easy over the years, but I've managed to remain in my integrity, whether he agrees with me or not. That's healing that I could not have predicted.


Just for today, I will reflect on how I tended to show up in the lives of others that was unhealthy or unhelpful. I will identify what the opposite ways of showing up could be. I will do my part to live my values with integrity, going forward with goodwill and generosity.



Calligraphy note:

廉正 | Renshō | Upright presence, being within honesty and integrity

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