"Words are from the lips but actions are from the heart." -Rashida Costa

In recovery we hear a lot about “making amends.” It’s part of our recovery to take action to clean up our past. We can’t do this until we become aware of how we have injured—both others and ourselves. A dictionary definition of amends states it’s “reparation or compensation for a loss, damage, or injury of any kind.”

As we become aware through our healing, we begin to really understand and see the ways we have harmed ourselves and others. This moves us to desire to take action and repair all possible relationships and offer restitution. Per another definition of amends, it’s “to do something good to show that you are sorry about something you have done.” It won’t do to make an ingenuous “I’m sorry” just to get someone off our backs. It takes actions that come from a sincere place in the heart; a place where sorrow is felt over the ways we’ve harmed self and others—and wants nothing more than to repair it. This will be felt and seen by others. It’s much more than “lip service.” We must experience real change and it needs witnessed by others as part of the healing. This process takes time and dedication to our recovery.

As we seek reparation with others: some people may not be open to us making amends and/or be willing to forgive, some will listen and forgive—but no longer want a relationship of any kind with us, and others will be open though it will take time for them to see and trust that the change is real.

Reparations to ourselves: a recovery program and trauma therapy revealed to me how vitally important this is. If we don’t make amends to ourselves and heal from the many ways in which we have injured ourselves, then we pass it on to others either consciously or unconsciously. Many of the coping mechanisms we often learned came from childhood traumatic experiences. We then keep this dysfunctional behavior in place (often from one generation to the next) until we do healing recovery work. In my experience, it’s been a harder road to learn to make amends to myself. Through trauma work I learned why I did the things I did (like the dysfunctional coping mechanisms) which was really helpful in learning self-love and compassion. In turn, this has enabled me to learn to forgive myself and integrate parts of the past.

None of us can change the past, but making amends to self and others gives us an appreciation for the present and faith in a brighter future for all.

Cheri Thomas

Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.