King Rat (gkr) wrote,
King Rat

On amends

One of the things I am highly in favor of is making amends. That is, to correct or change one's behavior. Ultimately, this is what is most important in repairing a relationship after breaking it. There are really two parts to this. Past behavior and future behavior. Of the two, not repeating mistakes is probably the more important, but making up for something is nearly as important and sometimes the only thing when making amends.

As I wrote about apologies, I have been burned in the past by "I'm sorrys" and "Forgive mes" in the past when the person didn't change his behavior. I had a roommate once, Mel, who continually was late with his part of the rent and never cleaned up after himself. I constantly heard "I'm sorry" from him and "I'll get you the money soon." But the words meant little to me after the first couple of times. And while it was important for him to pay me on time in the future, I was most concerned with him catching up on the large backlog of rents he owed me. Eventually, he tried to pay me off with meat from a cow his father butchered.

During my early college years, I was a heavy drinker. I resented my parents quite a bit. I never called. Rarely visited. Used my mother as my personal banker (she controlled the meager inheritance from my father), but little else. As part of the process of quitting drinking, I had to repair the relationship with my mother and step-father. There is no possible way to replace the time she was shut out of my life. It's not like money that can be repaid or time & effort. So what I had to do was do thing right from that point on.

So I started calling my parents. I lived in another state. I visited more often. I told my mom how I was doing. And when my dad answered the phone, I didn't immediately brush past him to get to other family members. My father and I did not get along in my formative years, and I considered him stupid and not worth my time for a long time.

But I still slacked sometimes. At a wedding of a 5th cousin (could be 2nd, could be 9th, I don't really know) in Portland in '93, I took off for a day and checked out the area. Checked out some A.A. meetings as well. When I got back to the hotel, my mom asked me what I had been up to for the day. I blew her off. She called me on it, saying that my amends to her meant that I included her all the time, not just when I felt like it.

I knew that my efforts were paying off though in '94, when my car broke down. My step-father, who for many years would not even get into a car if I was driving, lent me the keys to his truck to go run around junk yards to find parts. His truck! His baby.

At times, 10 years after I sat down with them, I still hold back when it comes to including my family in my life. Most of the time though it is out of a desire to protect my mother from something she doesn't understand. I don't want to throw in her face a lifestyle that she thinks is at least partially sinful. However, I tell her when I am enjoying myself. I tell her my trials and tribulations. I even occasionally introduce a girl I am seeing to her, although that has rarely worked out. Because I want her to feel like she is a part of my life.

That is my amends to my parents.


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