I had dinner with a friend in the program yesterday and a lot of heavy things came up for us both. I don't feel like I am really in a place to help any one right now, because I have taken a time out from my personal life including the program, but the emotions that surfaced yesterday made me realize that experience of others is a great teacher.
She was talking about some of the mistakes she made with her oldest daughter and how she openly favored her youngest daughter because she was easier to manage. This bought up my own experience of not being important to my family and how clueless we can be about the effects we have on others.
We all have experienced pain and have inflicted pain either with our words or lack of words and sometimes in our actions or lack of action. So what can be done to rectify the situation sometimes when decades have passed? How can we find a way to make amends and to forgive ourselves for things that we did knowingly or unknowingly?
Acknowledging what we have done is part of the 4th step inventory and part of the process of forgiving ourselves and realizing we were humans and as humans we weren't just victims but victimized others. This is why making amends has its on step and the key to healing our own wounds and the wounds of others. It was hard for me to accept that I wasn't just a victim but that my controlling angry sharp tongue had hurt the one person in my life I was trying to bring closer, at that time my husband.
Having empathy for others was something I didn't really know existed when I arrived in the program. I thought everyone should just suck it up because that was my experience. No one cut me any slack and I managed. My thinking was brutal towards myself and towards others. They needed to just get their act together. I really needed that first inventory to see how I also had done harm to others and start the healing process for myself.
About the unsaid, I waited my entire life for my father to acknowledge that he hurt me or worse ignored my existence and those words never came. He told my sister that he wished he had done things differently. Hearing those word would have made a huge difference to me without the words I spent my life speculating and not knowing and believing that I didn't really mean that much to him.
Before he died I did meet with him briefly to try to understand where he was coming from and what I got from that meeting was that he did love me. I also realized he wasn't capable of putting that emotion out on the table. So the words were left unsaid but I got what I needed in the realization he was also a victim and human.
I still have problems and realize that this is a journey without a real destination. I can only be who I am today and hope with the help of Step 10 that I don't get too far behind.