I received a text message out of the clear blue this morning. I cried even as my heart lifted with joy. My young friend Roy (of course Roy is a pseudonym) is safe. And happy. And 444 days sober.
Roy wrote to us in honor of the ninth step of the principles of AA – making amends. “I realize that when things went south for me, I was unable to show up as your friend. I recognize that it must’ve been hurtful and upsetting to see me vanish like that, without a word and without proper thanks for the time you spent as my mentor, or for the beautiful meals I shared in your home.”
Hurtful? Upsetting? No. Neither of those is the way I would describe how we felt. We were worried about Roy. We feared he was dead, or homeless, lying in a gutter somewhere, unable to help himself.
I responded to Roy immediately, telling him how happy we were to hear from him, and that we had worried about him as parents would their son.
As a therapist, I worked with many clients who were either in recovery, or embarked on a recovery program shortly after we started working together. However, it’s one thing to support a client who is making amends. It’s another thing altogether to be a worried friend, waiting to hear.
To those of you reading this who are in recovery, please know this: making amends has a deeper meaning to those you reach out to than your apology for past actions. Reaching out means to us an opportunity to reestablish relationship. And, it allows us the peace of mind of knowing that you are safe. You are alive. You mattered to us before you got into recovery; you matter to us still.
The honest undertaking of the ninth step means that your peace of mind, your centeredness, does not depend on our reaction to your reaching out. You are doing this on your own behalf, not to please someone else. I just wanted you to know.