Making Amends To The Person Who Molested Me
I have a friend I'll call Bob, who is very confrontational and I found myself getting angry with him quite often in our conversations. I told him about my feelings of anger and he said it was because he didn't pat me on the back and say "poor Janice" like everyone else does. This made me still more angry.
We have both been heavily involved in 12 step groups for years and we talk a lot about that. 12 step groups are for people looking for help with various and sundry addictions. All 12 step groups are formed and fashioned after the original 12 Step group Alcoholics Anonymous and the program as presented in the Big Book of A.A. There are 12 step groups for sex addiction, food addiction, alcoholism, gambling addiction, working addiction, etc. If there's an addiction, chances are there's a 12 step group somewhere for it. There's even a 12 step group for incest survivors. All of these groups use the same 12 steps substituting the word "alcohol" for their addictive substance of choice and "alcoholic" for how they refer to themselves.
The 12 Steps…
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him,
praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our
I guess it was 2 months ago I had a conversation with Bob in which he asked me if I ever made amends (see step 8 & 9) to Chuck (Chuck being the person who molested me from the age of 8-20). The amount of volcanic, indignant rage that boiled up at the mere introduction of the idea was indescribable. I was completely outraged at the notion that I owed that man anything especially amends! Mount St. Helen exploded inside of me. It's a pure miracle I didn't cuss him out and hang up on him.
Blinded by pure rage, I'm not sure how long it took me to be able to hear him out, but I did. He simply said, "have you ever made amends to Chuck for using what he did to you as an excuse to hurt yourself and other people with impunity?"
Since that conversation and for the last month or so, Bob has been taking me through the steps. I've had to take a long, hard look at myself. I've had to see the truth about some things. The truth is I've used what Chuck did to me as a carte blanche to do whatever I want to regardless of its consequences on me or other people.
I've used what he did to me to feel fully justified into eating myself to over 420 pounds, basically killing myself slowly with food (* food addiction). I've used what he did to me as a justification to have sex with whoever I want regardless of their marital status regardless of safety and precautions(* sex addiction). I've used this as an excuse and justification to continue Chuck's abuse on me by letting dozens of men abuse me by using me for sex.
I've used what he did to me to believe the lie that "all I'm good for is sex". I've believed the lies that no one will love me unless I have sex with them. I've used what he did to me to play the victim role for 26+ years. I've used it to get attention and the pats on the back and the "poor you" sentiments.
Am I beating myself up? It certainly may sound like that to some of you. I believe I'm seeing the truth for the first time in decades. What has playing the victim done for me? It's gotten me sad, lonely and depressed; alone, eating myself into an early grave and morally bankrupt.
The purpose of the steps are NOT to beat myself up. Beating myself up and seeing the truth are two different things. In the steps we take an inventory (step 4). In it we honestly review and determine what things in our life are not working. In the A.A. Big Book it likens our personal inventory to that of an inventory done in a business. A commercial inventory is done to see what is not usable and get rid of it.
So what did I see in my inventory? I clearly see self-pity, self-centeredness, resentment, anger and the list goes on. All of which I'm asking my Higher Power to remove daily. It's a process. No one in 12 steps has attained perfection.
Oh Chuck made it onto my 4th step inventory on which you list the persons with whom you are angry or resent. He was number one on my list. I have all the justification in the world to be resentful and full of self-pity about what he did to me. But where has it gotten me?
A couple of months ago I was planning the end of my life. I wanted to die and had "make funeral arrangements" and "make out my will" on my "to do" list.
In the program harboring a resentment then acting out in our addiction is like taking the poison expecting the other person to die. In other words if I'm an alcoholic and use the resentment to justify drinking, I'm taking the poison, hurting myself because of that resentment.
In the process of these 12 steps I've been faced with something I've been told for decades. I remember vividly being told 26 years ago when the secret came out to forgive Chuck. I simply could not do it. Forgiveness was a foreign concept to me. I grew to deeply resent anyone and everyone who ever brought up the notion of forgiveness. They just don't understand! For me it was not an option. I did not want to forgive. I wanted to get better, but I did not want to forgive. Even if I wanted to I had no way to connect to it. I didn't know how to let go of it. No way.
It took going through the 12 steps to get me to see my part, the resentment and what it was doing for me. I used it as a credit card to fully justify anything and everything I did or didn't do with complete impunity. It freed me from any and all responsibility over myself. I played the perpetual victim and played it well. "Poor me." "Look how sad and fucked up I am." "I eat like this because…" "I'm promiscuous because…"
I've had to come face-to-face with reality. I am an adult. I am responsible. I have done bad things to myself and other people. I have to own that, seek forgiveness, make amends and ask my higher power for help to do all these things to make things better. Something my best friend told me a long time ago "just because you've been hurt does not make it okay to hurt other people."
I'm not a particularly religious person and struggle daily with my concept of my Higher Power, but in this process of the 12 steps I really do connect to this prayer I now say daily:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
The miracle of it…I truly feel the resentment toward Chuck is gone. I don't understand it, but I'm certainly not looking a gift horse in the mouth. The Big Book instructed me to pray for Chuck. I've been saying this prayer for him daily:
God, help me show Chuck the same tolerance, pity and patience that I would cheerfully grant a sick friend. God save me from being angry and resentful. Thy will be done. Show me how to take a kindly and tolerant view of him. Amen
Here is a copy of the actual, hand-written letter I sent to Chuck on 4/18/2013: