I took care of my sick mother for 13 years, as a way to make amends to my dad, that had died 13 years before I got sober. I guess I could have called that dead amends, or direct dead amends, or living amends or whatever. I sure didn't think that writing a letter to my dad -- would be appropriate.
I also harmed many people before sobriety. So many and for so long -- that I couldn't possibly remember all of them, and many of them, I didn't even know their names. How could I write a letter to them or even begin to search for them, without knowing anything about them?
There were many people and creatures that suffered. For example: I didn't know that dogs were the highly sensitive and emotional beings that they are. I just considered them as dogs -- without realizing that they are more like children. Could I just write a letter to all the dogs that deserved better care that I neglected to give?
What about the little bird that I shot with a BB gun when I was eight years old -- just to see if I could do it and to see what it would be like to shoot a bird? I used to drink over it. No, I didn't have a resentment towards birds. But, resentments, fears, and sex conduct were not the only things in my inventory. The major part of my inventory -- was "harms done to others."
I also support women's shelters and women's crisis centers and support organizations for trying to find cures for breast cancer. I didn't harm women, nor did I give them cancer -- but, it's a way for me, to make amends, for the things that I failed to do -- that I could have done -- that would have been help for women.
And, how is writing a letter -- making amends? If we're going to use semantics on the Steps -- it does say "direct amends" and my first sponsor told me "if you hurt them with a letter then you can make amends with a letter" but if you harmed them and a letter was not the tool -- then, get your butt into finding a way to make direct amends.
So, I guess you can lump me in that crowd that has gone astray from precise wording of the Steps -- and tries to look at the "spirit of the Step".
If I was alive while I harmed them -- I want to amend it while I'm alive. Or... would that be "living amends?"
For me "living amends" means "living my life in a direction that was 180 degress opposite of how I lived it while drinking."
I wasn't kind to the bird. I was more than not kind to the bird -- I killed it. For me, "living amends" has had me setting up bird feeders, and trying to look out for birds, and if there is a way that I can do something to rub out the record of how I treated birds in the past -- that's what I do.
What about the dogs? I go out of my way to help stray dogs and support the Humane Society, and to help others that are trying to help animals. I refer to that as "living in such a way as to rub out the record of my past". Maybe, it only helps me -- but, I refer to it as "Living Amends."
While I continually work to re-create my life -- part of the re-creation was to stop doing things that I used to do. Some of those things might not have been wrong -- but, the "Living Amends" that I make to myself, and God, as I understand God, and the earth, as I understand the earth... is to be giving rather than taking. If I see litter -- it doesn't have to be my litter for me to pick it up and I pick it up because it makes me feel better about me, and I feel that it helps make up for the litter that I did leave that I can't pick up -- even by writing a letter to the litter cans or a letter to the ground.
So, I'm wrong about it? So what!
It isn't in the book? So what.
I try to live like a good, decent, human being, pay my taxes, and include a little extra. That isn't in the book either.
I do understand the spiritual axiom that "if someone else is doing something that bothers me -- that it's inside me -- where the adjustment needs to be made." Therefore, when others are "doing it wrong"... I try to look inside and inquire "what's wrong inside of me that's trying to focus on their wrongs?" And, I try to fix what's in me rather than try to fix what's in them.
Maybe I'm a little simple minded and narrow in my thinking -- but, that sure is progress compared to how I used to be!
I hold to the belief that if people are trying to do good -- regardless of whether they are right or wrong about it -- encourage them to do more good. In the long run -- it will be a better world for all of us.