I had two major resentments when I joined AA. I swore I would never forgive these two men for the pain they inflicted on me. I carried it around with me like a cross to bear. Through the years I have read about acceptance, forgiveness, and how others are as sick as we are and we should treat them as such. I started healing relationships in my life but still never imagined that I could forgive my stepfather or my first boyfriend for the mental, physical, and sexual abuse that I endured at their hands.
For years in AA, I heard people talk about how some of the amends we need to make will take time and that when the time is right, a person or situation will present itself for me to do a Step Nine with. The more I thought about my first boyfriend, the more I could see my part in the relationship. Taking an honest look at myself back then, I could see how my disease affected our relationship and how unstable I was. I looked for him online for a few years but never found him. Then one day I received a message from him on Facebook. The communication was very casual at first; he was not sure if he should even contact me. Then I started with the amends that I needed to make, not concerning myself with his side of the street. I explained that I was in AA now and that I had him on my Ninth Step for years. We both made our apologies to each other. I found out that he had a life-threatening accident after we broke up and that he had decided, at that point, to stop using drugs. It was a powerful and healing experience for both of us, to be able to wish each other well.
So that left one person on my list, my stepfather. I was only nine years old when he came into my life and started abusing me and my younger sister. He was a big, angry alcoholic and everyone in the family was afraid of him. I had talked about his abuse for years with my younger sister, counselors, and my sponsor. I started following the suggestion from my sponsor to pray for him. One day, while looking through photos with my mother, we ran across pictures of him. Mom asked if she should throw them away. Realizing that her relationship with him was very different than mine, I said that they were her pictures and she could keep them if she wanted to. I really can’t explain it, but somehow my resentment was gone. For the first time in my life, I was able to talk about him without feeling upset, angry or resentful. I believe that my higher power took this burden from me. I feel so much lighter and happier these days. Nowadays my experience benefits others when I am sharing at meetings or working with a sponsee. What a freedom to have released all that negative baggage! I will forever be grateful to AA and my sponsor for helping me work through this.