Sometimes a door closes on a relationship and it takes a lot of work to walk back through it, even if all you want to do is admit your own faults… The following is something that might be useful when you are getting ready to repair a relationship. Previous suggestions are in the post, Step 8: Amends Preparation Part 1.
These ideas worked for me so I share them, but not because I fear conflict and need this to keep me bolstered, I used to love a good disagreement. Back in the 70s, my boyfriend’s mom said, “A good fight first thing in the morning gets my blood going!” Loved that woman. I lived by that challenge for decades.
However, recognizing the addictive quality of my thinking means I’ve had to really modify my thinking and greatly change my behavior. Now I pursue peace and avoid drama. Not only do I have to, in order to avoid situations that morph into obsessive fear or criticism, but I’m surprised to find… I prefer it.
“After all, our problems were of our own making. Bottles were only a symbol. Besides, we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to!” ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, p 103
4 MINUTE PROCESS
Arrange to meet:
- Memorize or write out the harms statement you will use with this person. People sometimes take a 3×5, sticky note or write it in a mobile device.
- Pray about the session, asking that the bondage of self-will be removed.
- Call or email asking to meet them. (Don’t get into it yet. Just assure them that you need to apologize and it will take less than 4 minutes of their time. If they insist, go ahead and do it by phone.)
When you meet:
- Thank them for taking the time and immediately say your harms statement. You’re not there to chat.
- Hear their response and repeat back to them any accusations they present.
- You may ask them if there is any other way that you harmed them. You may also want to ask how your past behavior made them feel.
- Thank them for meeting with you.
- Leave (unless you REALLY want to chat. But it’s usually a little dangerous. Things can go south very quickly and if they start rehashing, you’re in trouble again. Perhaps make a future date to get together. At that time, you’d be starting on equal ground. You said 4 minutes. Show you are true to your word!)
- Contact your sponsor, or trusted friend immediately to review the experience.
PREPARING FOR THE WORST
- Do not discuss their behavior in any way. Don’t begin any sentences with ‘you’.
- Don’t go over a lot of details with them.
- Don’t start thinking about what they did to you as you prepare, focus on what God revealed about you to you.
- Don’t ask for anything except that they listen.
- Don’t ever say ‘but’, well…you know, come on now, or anything that shows disagreement. What they say cannot be your topic or focus. File it away mentally for now unless you are going to say, “you’re right”.
If they go off on you:
- Listen for a while and DON’T respond.
- Agree where they are right, without giving any defense “Yes. You’re right. (Ex: I was often angry and rude).”
- Return to your Harms Statement that you wrote. Say it again.
- If they simply cannot hear you, end the discussion gently by saying something like, “Possibly another time would be better for this. I really am sorry.”
- Thank them for meeting with you. Leave.
Maybe the person who cannot hear your apology will contact you in the future, maybe not. Their willingness isn’t the key to the effectiveness of Step 8 and 9; yours is. It’s your work and restoring the relationship is not usually the objective. Many amends may be made where it would be inadvisable to pick up the relationship again.
Click here for the Not So Scary Worksheets and print Step 8 & 9 Amends pdf.