Step Eight – “the beginning of the end of isolation.” For this alcoholic, this was the adventure step. This was the step that would build “the best possible relations with every human being….”
When my sponsor “suggested” that I create a Step Eight list, I thought “no problem for me.” As a trial attorney I made a good living at making lists: Lists of witnesses’ lists of facts; lists of exhibits. Step Eight, so I thought, would be a “no brainer” rest stop located somewhere between Step Seven and Step Nine where I could kick back and go on cruise control.
As is usually the case, I was blindsided with a “two by four” reality moment while attending the Monday night Step Study meeting of the Men’s Sugarhouse Group. It was pointed out by one of the old timers (Stan H.) that we make a list of “all persons we had harmed” and be “willing to make amends to them all.” That meant that I was not going to get by making a list of “selected” people of my own choosing. The wreckage of my past had already set the agenda. I just needed to be willing to put those who I harmed down on a list. A tall order for this alcoholic.
“What an order”, I thought. “I cannot go through with it.” But in my reading of Doctor Bob’s Nightmare I came to realize that Step Eight was a necessary adventure that I would have to “thoroughly” take if I wanted to live a sober, happy and useful life.
What did my sponsor say? “Do not be discouraged.” You have all the resources you need at your disposal: God (as you may understand Him), the Big Book, the Twelve and Twelve, a sober sponsor who believes in attending meetings, and the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Little did I know, that I had at my disposal the best of the best tools for one’s sobriety tool box.
This making a list of “all persons” I had harmed would require me to list Uncle Sam, and my law firm. As an attorney of some experience, I did not use a gun or knife to harm others. Worse, I betrayed the trust of others and sacrificed my integrity which itself faded as my alcoholism progressed.
Before launching into my new Step Eight adventure I consulted with my wife of then twenty plus years with respect to the Uncle Sam and law firm amends. After a year of sober deliberation my wife and I made one of our best decisions: I made my amends to Uncle Sam and my law firm. Those amends led, predictably, to the loss of my job and sanctions from the Bar Association which suspended my license to practice law for a time. I lost my job. We lost the house, a lot of money and a lot of other “stuff.” But the family stayed together and a stayed sober.
I worked as a law clerk for several attorneys, some of whom I had previously hired or mentored. What started as a forced feeding of humble pie resulted in a feast of gratitude. With the help and care of God, my sponsor (Woody W.) the A.A. Fellowship and many lawyers and judges, I became a lawyer in good standing.
Today I am a member of a law firm which seems to be a better fit. My wife is the firm receptionist. We have stayed married for forty four years and continue to learn, love and laugh together. She is my best friend. My son is one my partners. I also have a daughter who is, in her own right, a very accomplished attorney. Together we take on the representation of several clients each year who cannot otherwise afford to pay for legal services. So far, we are having a most rewarding experience. How good is that?
I wish good luck and God speed to all as you continue the Step Eight Adventure. Pick up the tools in your sobriety tool box. As my sponsor would tell you: “Suit up, show up and keep your eyes open for the next miracle to come your way.”
~ Sugarhouse Men’s Group
3280 East 3900 South, Salt Lake City
Mondays & Fridays 8:15pm