Monday, February 13, 2012


I chaired the meeting tonight and this was the topic. 


I'm talking about the forgiveness we do... in that 4th step.  Some folks use it when they call themselves names in their 4th column.  Some folks use it when they move from steps 6 and 7 on into steps 8 and 9. 

However you get there, the time will come where you have to face the person you've hated.  He kicked you in the balls or spat on you or... said you were wrong... or tried to control and dominate you.  Whatever it was.

But there comes a time when you have to settle the deal, own up to your part, and get past it.  It may be that you don't owe him an amend... or you're not ready to make it yet... or whatever.  But let's say, you've "taken the bit into your teeth" and you're going to sweep off your side of the street.

I wronged you.  This is what I did to you...  I rebelled against your authority... etc. etc. etc.  Then when it's done, "What can I do to set this right between us?"

If you've gotten this far... in my experience, you're usually free. 

You are no longer a victim.  You are now responsible.  You are free.  You are once again happy and at peace in your own skin and that guy who you hated is a new man... although he's the same.

Now, some folks refuse to do this.  They have a justified resentment... they do NOT owe an amend, and they see no need to forgive... nor does that bastard need praying for.  They are neither sick nor are they human.  They are wrong and to hell with them.  I feel sorry for those folks... especially when they were me.  They are entitled to their pain and they are not responsible.  They are right and they are the... victim.

Why do some folks refuse to get well?

What's your current experience with forgiveness?


  1. Now if my spiritual mentor David R. Hawkins is correct... in that forgiveness is hogtied to acceptance... then it also goes that we are called to not accept the unacceptable.

    Now the human condition is acceptable... but my attitude toward it... not necessarily so.

  2. Forgiveness is really a radical letting go. The inability or refusal to forgive keeps one bound to the past, not able to be fully present in the here and now, unable to move on.

    "Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past"
    _Jack Kornfield

    1. I look at forgiveness in three ways: forgiveness of self, forgiveness of others, and forgiveness from others.

      When I came into the rooms, I was a classic narcissist, full of self pity and blaming others for all my problems. I was a poster boy victim.

      The trouble with being a victim, however, is that one has to change those who persecute us; those who make us "victims." Good luck with that. If I wanted to get out of this pit of self pity, the only thing I could change was me.

      I had to start by forgiving myself, and this wasn't very easy looking at the wrongs I caused others and the things I had done. But I eventually came to understand that God had forgiven me, so why couldn't I forgive myself? Sort of an addendum to Steps 2 and 3.

      As to forgiving those who had harmed me, I prayed for them. Every meeting I attend we close with the Lord's Prayer, "...forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others..." These aren't just words to be mouthed.

      I first had to acknowledge my part in any resentment I held, though. That in itself deflated a lot of the "victimhood" I experienced.

      As to seeking forgiveness from others, it began with my 9th step and continues today.

      I make amends by saying "I was wrong, it's my fault, I apologize, and what can I do to amend for to harm I've caused." Most often I'm granted the forgiveness I seek, other times I'm told to fuck off. But I've done what I can, and I move on.
      And I'm not a victim any more.

    2. Good stuff there Joe. Running around looking for forgiveness is a viscous circle I don't wish on anybody.
      My amends were mouthed when needed but for most if not all I had to take the action. People in my life were watching me, not the physical me but the heart (my intent) and the action I took and followed through on. I'll tell you it is extremely hard to tell 3 kids and your wife I won't hurt you anymore when that is all you have done for years. I just shut my mouth and got to work. I told my family I loved them everyday and I showed them I meant it.

  3. My amends go well pretty much 100% of the time when I'm clear on the harm and I bring the proper contrition to it. How do I show sorrow? By saying "I'm sorry"? No. Just by being sincere and being in the moment.

    Have you ever had someone make amends to you and they either didn't seem to give a shit or they didn't seem to know how you were harmed or they were really just trying to stick it up your ass? If so, you'll have a better idea what not to do.

    Another way to screw up an amend is to bring up their shit in it... aka divulging your 2nd column to them.

    When I clear up my side of the street, the street is now clean. I lose my right to bitch, piss, or moan about the other side of the street.

    But I still have a right to not bend over and grab my ankles too. The book talks about this; don't place yourself in a position to be harmed or threatened.

  4. God has forgiven us long before we seriously considered asking for it, but we "personally experience" forgiveness as we forgive others.

    To forgive someone is to un-judge them. If we never judged them then there is no need to forgive.


  5. I agree with that.

    But how do you not judge anybody ever?

    This notion reminds me of bleeding deacons at meetings who give a canned speech and say, "Now that I'm sober..."

    What exactly is your experience with judging nobody ever? My book says, "When these crop up..."

  6. Christ (according to Matthew) is condemning hypocrisy in judgement, not the act of judgement itself.
    Read John 7:24, Luke 12:57 and 17:3, Matthew 3:2,7 and 23, Psalm 37:30, Proverbs 31:9, Isaiah 58:1, Acts 7:51 and 13:10 and 8:20-23 for a start.
    My personal approach to understanding the Bible is to apply the "reality check" principle to questions like these. Isn't calling someone a "friend" a form of judgement? Are we prohibited from doing this?
    Only a fool thinks so (oops, I guess I'm damned now)!

  7. Good points Ralph.

    Hope you guys aren't taken aback by the friction we had earlier.

    I think argument and disagreement is a good thing.

    1. Arguments occur when there is a difference of opinion; if one listens to the other person, one may learn something.
      If neither person listens, the argument descends to a shouting match, or worse.
      Sobriety is necessary for all involved, or the discussion is pointless or even dangerous.

  8. "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

    Judgment in this context means don't hold a grudge, a resentment. We are not competent judges of a parsons soul. Its a spiritual attitude that we have to practice.

    There are a number of definitions based on the context but the ones that apply to the matter at hand would be:

    8. to form a judgment or opinion of; decide upon critically: You can't judge a book by its cover.

    9. to decide or settle authoritatively; adjudge: The censor judged the book obscene and forbade its sale.

    We can't very well ask God to forgive a lifetime of wrongs but then turn right around and condemn another, putting them in the prison of our mind.

  9. Can we not judge rightly?

    Little 16 year old Prissy Pants asked if she can go to the bar with 38 year old welder Chuck in his Chevy van. What do you think?

    1. That's not the form of judgment that we are talking about, but Jesus did say "cast not your pearls before swine......" That would imply that one has made the determination that a person is currently unreachable, dangerous, not interested in the spiritual life, but that is not an eternal condemnation. Jesus also said that if someone sins against us and remains unrepentant that we can cast such an unruly soul out of the kingdom, but that still in not a judgment. We leave open the hope that one may eventually see the error of his way and return to fellowship in the kingdom. In such a case we remain "neutral". If I have animosity then i need to pray for a change of spirit.

  10. I think that calling someone a friend is a form of judgement. The other day I was chatting with a guy who, like me, has been at a spiritual crossroads. Unlike me, his experience hasn't led him out of AA, but he was concerned that his getting free of old religious beliefs and conceptions might lead to a schism between him and some of his AA friends. In his words, he was concerned that he might be "kicking people out of his life."

    I told him that in my experience, some of them would kick themselves out of his life, some might even condemn him to hell, or at the least drunkenness (which would be hell anyway) for his new found convictions. In that case would I consider them "friends?" I've recently taken stock of my life and the people in it and, in the words of the late Mark H., found that I had assigned the role of friend to people I didn't even like. All we had in common was AA.

    Concerning arguing, discussion, and dissension. I don't know if arguing is good, but I think discussion is. And the tension that arises between two different points of view is necessary to the creative process. Although I'm not"in AA" anymore, I still believe that the ideas of right of decision, right of participation, and right of the minority opinion to be heard that are found in the 12 Concepts are vital. But too often, AA's are afraid of the tension and controversy that arises in discussion and want to avoid it. So everybody nods their heads and agrees without question.