So now I am making amends. I didn’t expect this to happen this way. I don’t know what I expected. I guess I expected the big emotional scene. The one you see on TV and the movies. I tearfully lay out my shortcomings and take responsibility for my past and how I caused such damage to each and every person I hurt. We both cry and talk about how much we love each other and that things will be different and the past is the past and we have a bright new future to look forward to together. That’s not how it has gone for me. Or for the people I have on my list.
As I mentioned before, I have three different categories. First is my wife. Her amends are different and special. Quite honestly, her amends are up to her. I came to her to lay bare my character flaws, the ways that I recognized that I had damaged her, and to listen to how she felt based upon how I had hurt her. There was no tearful scene that led to a shared view of a hopeful new day. She was honest with her hurt, the damage she felt from me, and the destruction that my acting out had caused to her personally and to our marriage. She was clear about the end of her trust in me and in other people because of me. She said she didn’t know if she could forgive me. She also said she was guarded about telling me she loved me and that she was hopeful for the future because she didn’t know if I would stay in recovery. Amends with my wife is a day to day undertaking. Not something that is immediate or instant.
Second is those that I make amends with face to face. My family including my kids, my friends, my parents. People that I have hurt that are still in my life and will most likely stay in my life. I met with my kids and talked them through what I had done, how I had not been engaged and had not been the father God called me to be or the man I should be as an example to them. I asked them how my behavior had impacted them. They told me that my absence impacted them. That even when I was here, it was obvious that I was distracted or didn’t have time for them. One of my kids told me that this version of me now was different, that it was obvious I was trying to change and that he hoped I would stay this way. I met face to face with my close friends who are not in recovery but are my accountability partners. I saw the impact of my lies and my manipulation on them and the struggle they have to remain in my life, that its only through Christ acting through them that they can be here with me in accountability. I didn’t see before the damage I had done to them.
Finally, there are those that I can’t see face to face. People that aren’t reachable in person. Former bosses that I had to send a letter or email to apologize for my previous behavior, to ask how that impacted them, and to ask forgiveness for the man I was and the selfishness and behavior that impacted them. One former boss told me that he appreciated my candor and that he was thankful that I was seeking to improve my life. Several didn’t respond. There are also those letters that I can’t and won’t send. The ones that I wrote to former affair partners. I apologized for my part in manipulating them to meet my own selfish needs. Then I shredded those letters.
I didn’t expect amends to be this way. I didn’t expect this depth of feeling. I didn’t expect to see this depth of damage in all those around me.