response to friend making amends

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response to friend making amends

Postby soberfriend » Wed Dec 13, 2017 10:45 am

Hello - hoping it's OK to come looking for the best response to a brother-in-law who is making amends - but for the wrong thing (ie does not understand me enough to know the way in which I have been most hurt by his behaviour). Is it an opportunity to raise hurts that I don't think he has any idea about, or will that be seen as disrespectful?
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Re: response to friend making amends

Postby PaigeB » Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:02 am

I think it is important for you to say what you like when he makes amends. Surely the idea here is to clear the air and clean off his side of the street. He will need to know. This is about having a better relationship going forward and that will not work as well if you have your own resentments.
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Re: response to friend making amends

Postby Brock » Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:14 am

Welcome here, certainly it’s OK to ask, its good to get people who care enough to do so.

My opinion is that it depends on how he approaches making these amends, (it sounds like he has already done so, since you know what he thought he had hurt you by doing). But if he is listing things like I am sorry about this and that, then finishes, I see no problem in you saying ‘I forgive you for those things, but what hurt more was x & y,’ particularly if you say you have a resentment against him for doing these things. The word ‘resentment’ is powerful language in the AA program, we seek to hold no resentments against others, and hopefully have them hold none against us.

I don’t think it will be disrespectful in any way, the literature even says some may not accept our apology and boot us out of their office, so we are warned that it’s not always easy to do. Best of luck to both yourself and your brother-in-law.
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Re: response to friend making amends

Postby soberfriend » Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:39 am

Oh, interesting! Confess I'm lining up my ducks at the moment, he has talked about amends he has made to others and hinted strongly at the need (not sure that's the right word) to make one to me, but he hasn't actually done so yet. I wanted to think about my response as I don't want to injure my relationship with him any more - it is fragile, we have clashed before and he has a strong temper, anger and control issues. And yes, I do resent (well spotted, Brock) his treatment of my sister and yeah, I promise you I do know and accept that's not my problem! I guess I need to wait and see how open he is to widening the brief, as it were, but only when/if the conversation happens...but blimey I will find it hard to hold my tongue if it's a closed conversation...
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Re: response to friend making amends

Postby Tosh » Wed Dec 13, 2017 3:28 pm

soberfriend wrote:Hello - hoping it's OK to come looking for the best response to a brother-in-law who is making amends - but for the wrong thing (ie does not understand me enough to know the way in which I have been most hurt by his behaviour). Is it an opportunity to raise hurts that I don't think he has any idea about, or will that be seen as disrespectful?


The advice I received, about telling people hard truths, was to 'just be honest with them'.

It's good advice I found. Being honest kinda softens my ego so I can be honest without trying to hurt.

And yes, I think you ought to let your brother-in-law how he's harmed you.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: response to friend making amends

Postby soberfriend » Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:59 pm

Thank you, Tosh...I guess I'm worried that he will get angry if I bring up things he doesn't know about - or doesn't think I should be hurt by! We have had differences of opinion before now about what is and isn't hurtful, and his anger is pretty scary.

I know it will be a BIG thing for him if he does get to the point of an amend to me, and I don't want to undervalue that...I may be crossing bridges before I get to them!
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Re: response to friend making amends

Postby Blue Moon » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:35 pm

This is all a bit vague to me. Can you be a bit more specific? What did he do that he doesn't know he did, and how / why did it affect you?

You have received general advice to a general question. Such general advice you received may or may not be good advice in light of the specifics.
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Re: response to friend making amends

Postby positrac » Thu Dec 14, 2017 3:28 am

soberfriend wrote:Thank you, Tosh...I guess I'm worried that he will get angry if I bring up things he doesn't know about - or doesn't think I should be hurt by! We have had differences of opinion before now about what is and isn't hurtful, and his anger is pretty scary.

I know it will be a BIG thing for him if he does get to the point of an amend to me, and I don't want to undervalue that...I may be crossing bridges before I get to them!



Don't be a pushover and let him get angry as it is a sign that work still needs to be accomplished on how is reflection in the mirror is seen by others. Not saying start a fight as it sounds like you two have had a few dust up's over the years. Amends are supposed to help with getting past the issues and starting a new chapter in life. it won't be perfect and actions speak a lot louder than words.

Amends aren't supposed to help me and hurt you and so lay down the line and expect him to meet you in the middle and work on the progress forward. A lot of issues mentioned like my favorite-----CONTROL-----! That stuff takes time to heal and well I guess I would suggest your end of spiritual help and taking it to prayer for the guidance of the bigger picture. Answers come in time and not ours and so hope is all we really have. For you may this process mend and open new beginnings for the future. I mean nobody says you have to be friends, just kin.
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Re: response to friend making amends

Postby Tosh » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:12 am

soberfriend wrote:Thank you, Tosh...I guess I'm worried that he will get angry if I bring up things he doesn't know about - or doesn't think I should be hurt by! We have had differences of opinion before now about what is and isn't hurtful, and his anger is pretty scary.


That would be on my list of things to tell your brother-in-law too. :lol:
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: response to friend making amends

Postby gaftech » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:17 am

If you were my sister-in-law, and I was being honest about making amends to you, I would want you to speak up about issues you feel we have. I don't remember all the things I said or did to people over my years of drinking...the further back in history I go, the less I remember. My sobriety depends on clearing the air with those I have harmed so that going forward, I don't repeat those harms. If I don't know about them, odds are I am going to repeat them and possibly destroy our relationship forever.

Good luck to you.
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Re: response to friend making amends

Postby soberfriend » Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:28 pm

Wow, this has been very interesting from my point of view – because it’s has made me think a lot about what’s involved!

I’ve realised that there’s a little amend I’d been fixating on (@ Blue Moon: he gave away to his brother some of my parent’s furniture, which I really wanted – it’s a long story) but actually I can live with that (it’s just stuff, after all).

The real issue for me is his treatment of my sister, which I think is dismissive, controlling, argumentative, manipulative, angry, critical…and that is continuing even though he’s now four years into recovery. He is not, I think, physically abusive now (never has been on a regular basis, though when he was drinking there were two occasions when she left the house in fear) but he is certainly very domineering; and behaviour that I used to put down to the drink talking is still in evidence.

And I think it’s a very big contributory factor in her poor mental health; she had a breakdown about five years ago and hasn’t worked since. And he is dismissive of her mental health problems (and physical health – she had breast cancer treatment 18 months ago), it’s all about him, him, him.

I don’t say she’s perfect; she drives me nuts sometimes :-) But he tells me he’s done all 12 steps, and I know he hasn’t made any kind of amend to my sister – and that makes me demented after the emotional and financial support she has provided for the past 15 years and is still providing.

And I think I know the answer…which is that all I can do is be willing to help pick up the pieces as and when, and encourage her to focus on her own health problems in the meantime. She tried Al-Anon but didn’t get on with it; they have been to counselling but stopped (money was a problem but it also getting too difficult; duh); and she has her head so far down in the sand about her finances that she must be able to see Australia.

He continues to go to meetings and I guess I have to hope he will start to recognise his own behaviours over time (four years dry against nearly 30 years drinking is not long, I know). So far he gives every appearance of thinking any remaining issues are all her fault.

It feels mean to point out a loooooong road ahead to someone who has travelled a hard journey already. But it’s hard trying to cheer someone on when you still want to hit them with a brick hahahahaha

Thank you for all the comments, it has made me much clearer about my (very limited) role. Any more words of wisdom will be gratefully accepted!
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Re: response to friend making amends

Postby Brock » Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:58 pm

We in AA have a saying about taking another persons inventory, we try not to do that, but I find it interesting to hear from someone outside of AA, say how someone supposedly in AA is acting. It’s not nice to say, but he is not a good ‘advertisement’ for what the program promises, and our traditions call for others to be attracted to the program by observing members behavior. Selfishness is a hurdle we have to get over, our literature is full of lines like this - “selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.” You are being kind by saying four years is not very long, but I am very surprised that someone who claims to have done the steps and is sober that long still exhibits this type of behavior.

Rather than trying to make amends to our wives with words, (they have heard it all before, usually many times), we often make a ‘living amends,’ and it looks like he has failed miserably at this as well. It’s nice that you care about your sisters welfare as much as you do, but sorry to say this fellow she chose doesn't seem like much of a catch, perhaps she would be better off without him, but then that’s her choice to make.

Thanks for letting us know how things are going, and best of luck.
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Re: response to friend making amends

Postby Blue Moon » Mon Dec 18, 2017 8:13 pm

As you indicate, he is but 4 years sober after 30 years of drinking. Stopping drinking is but the beginning. Even the 12 Steps don't magically render us emotionally mature overnight, it's a process that takes many sober experiences. Just like life for onecwho never drank.

Have you considered Alanon for yourself?
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Re: response to friend making amends

Postby anand » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:40 am

Part of the Amends process is a bit of a "how can I make it up to you?" sort of question or implication. Maybe your response to that can be some behavior that remedies what you actually want amends for without having to specifically bring it up?

I suppose if this happened to me, I'd probably let it go - because what hurts me from someone else's behavior is "my side of the street." I don't know, this is an interesting question/topic!
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