the past few days, when i’ve begun writing the date, i’ve written the year as 2011. i know where i was, what i was feeling, why i was running away exactly two years ago. i regret running, and i have compassion for the feelings and situation i was running from. those regrets follow me through my current days, wishing i could have lived the end of 2011 with more grace. i realize now, two years later, that i could not have changed the outcome of the situation, but i wish i had been present for the ending rather than running away.
in 12-step recovery, “living amends” means that when you cannot right the wrongs that occurred during the addictive years, when you cannot directly apologize and make reparations to the ones you’ve hurt most, the best you can do is live differently today. living amends is living a new life in which you do not repeat the same mistakes. i can’t travel two years back in time, hold her hand, look into her eyes, and explain why i had to leave. i can’t travel two years back in time and hold each of those boys and apologize for not being able to protect them from the violence in their lives. i can’t travel two years back in time and disentangle myself from an abusive relationship i purposely used to punish myself. the only thing i can do is practice compassion for us all. by all, i mean everyone. for her, for those little boys, for their father, for you, for me, for my own mother and father, for every wound each of us carries inside that we are living with as best we can and healing as well as we are able.
i’m sorry i couldn’t live 2011 any better. i did the best i could. i’m living better now. i’ve learned from my mistakes. i’m healing what i can. i’m using my regrets to direct the specifics of my living amends. today i can communicate my boundaries, my needs, my desires. today i can assure you that i will show up. i will not run away. i will hold your hand, look into your eyes, and clearly communicate with you. i will speak my truth and i will honor your truth and if we part ways, i will hold the space between us with all the love and tenderness i’ve always felt for you.
you don’t have to be a recovering addict to practice living amends. if you have a regret that you can not make right, please do your best to live differently now, to learn from your mistakes, to practice compassion for yourself and for everyone you encounter. please hold space in your heart for healing. please give yourself the space created by forgiveness.