By: Tami Harper Winn
It’s a full moon out tonight. I’m surprised by the countless spaces between each white line that I see in the middle of the road. It’s almost mesmerizing. They illuminate on the stretch before me. I am captivated. All the world is aglow. Time cannot erase the road behind me. I have nothing but the huge open front windshield in front of me. There is only a glimmer of what I left behind in the rearview mirror and then complete and utter darkness. I want to leave it that way, something that I can peer into every once in awhile just to remind myself where I come from, and then turn my sights on what’s right in front of me.
The past is a very hard thing to let go of. Moving past former transgressions and hurts can hold so many alcoholics in limbo, held completely hostage by their own selves. It’s hard to remember why the windshield is bigger than the rear view mirror attached to it. Perhaps it’s because our Higher Power needs for us to be more focused on what’s up a head rather than what is behind us. The rear view mirror is so small because we need to only take a casual glimpse to ascertain whether anything is coming upon us unexpectedly or not. it’s to remind us that it’s not so important as to where you have been as it is to where you are going.
I have had to learn that time and time again in recovery and life. The analogy of the mirror and the window was used by a very wise old timer in a meeting where I sat and listened to him share what is was like, what happened, and what it is like now. It impacted me so much that I have carried it through all my days of being drunkless. So how do we make sure that the road behind us doesn’t distract us from the view in front of us? It’s simple, but not really.
I’d be lying if I told you that is was easy. It is easier in theory than practice. Reality isn’t that merciless. We have to clean up the wreckage that we leave behind. If we don’t, then we spend our time looking in that rearview mirror waiting for the lights and sirens of our lives to catch up to us. You can be certain they will. I am not about to get pulled over by my past, made to wait on the sideline of my life for whatever my past deems fit for me as I was trying to haul ass away from it.
So, in recovery I have learned the humble, sometimes very difficult, ego deflating art of amends. It’s a chance to make right our wrongs and clear away the wreckage of our past, as the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states. It is the Big Book of AA that outlined the very way to this new life where I could carry my head high and look the world in the face as I passed. It is step 9 in the 12 step approach to recovery. This is where I shed the layers of guilt and shame associated with my past in one quick swoop. Actually, it wasn’t quick. By the time I got around to my amends process in life, I had a lot of past to catch back up with.
Completing them has been a lengthy process. It may take me a lifetime to complete. Some amends I will not be able to complete. I know that I may not be able to complete all of my amends the way that I would like to see them happen. I am blessed to know that today it is not about me. I am able to let God control the outcome and do his work perfectly. As long as I perform his work well I will be placed in a protective bubble from my disease. I didn’t get to make amends to my mother the way I had hoped before she passed. It was next to impossible, because I had hit sobriety after her strokes. I did, however, get to spend my final years with her sober and of service to her. I can also become a living amends to her by being the mother to my children that they deserve.
I was not always your favorite person. But you probably already know that if you happen to know an alcoholic. With the 12 steps of AA and a really big Higher Power, I have repaired relationships that I thought were ruined. I was able to build new bridges over the ashes from prior bridges I had burnt. Miracles happened only because I became willing to make the amends. With my new found Higher Power and by doing the work, I now know a new freedom that I had never known before. Those are promises that are made to us if we do the work and turn our will over to a power greater than us.
As I take the time to pause briefly to check the rearview mirror, I happened to catch a glimpse of an old high school flame who recently contacted me. I was brought to tears as I read an amends of a perceived hurt that had been carried for 30 years. Tears flowed down my face to think about the fact that he labored with this for all that time. I was sad. For me, it was something that I chalked up to us being silly teenagers and had forgotten all about until the email. I have no ill feelings for him. I never have. In fact, he is someone I have always called friend and even if miles and years separate us, he still is someone I remember fondly. So, for him it was important to come into view in my rearview mirror. Today I bless him on his journey’s and remind him here publicly that I adore him and always have. God bless you. I turn my sights towards the horizon and smile. Those were the best and the worst of times. But they were ours.
The broken line on the road ahead of me serves to remind me that I am free to pass and switch between lanes as it becomes safe to do so. The spaces between remind me that life is not a perfect line all the time. At times on the road of life I come upon solid straight lines. Oddly enough though, they are on the most winding and twisty parts of the road. I tend to proceed here with greater caution. For me, it is symbolic to how I handle adversity. Often times, it is much better than when I am on the straight and narrow today. On cruise control things get out of control sometimes for me, because I take for granted so many things. That’s where the line in the road is broken. It’s where I need to make the most amends. By paying attention to the road ahead of me through my front window, I am able to navigate sobriety with much less fear and uncertainty. I can sit back and enjoy the ride for what it is.
I’ve been on the road to sobriety living my new life for some time now. It is a destination I don’t believe I will ever arrive at. It’s a road trip I will be blessed to continue just so long as I can steer clear of the obstacles in my way. I have tools today to do that. I didn’t have those before. So if I break down a long the way, I know that the road is still there. I also know that today I have an ever increasing amount of tools to choose from to fix the problem. Making amends to those I have harmed is just one of them. For most of us, our dark past will become our greatest ally. For now, I am trudging my way down the road to my happy destiny. Feel free to join me.
~ Tami Harper Winn
(Written on behalf of all those that I may not have made amends to yet, to those I have harmed but didn’t know I did, to my long lost beau in his sexy red Mach 1, and to my momma (RIP). You all deserve to know that you matter and I wish you all light and love. I write today for you. I live sober with you in mind. May God bless you all.)
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