Step Eight of Chronic Pain Anonymous – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

 The fruits of having worked Steps One through Seven clarified my character defects and how I had harmed others. It was those “others” I was now to consider in CPA, small in number, given my trust issues, low energy, and penchant to live alone.

The harm I had foisted upon myself warranted writing my name at the top of the list. Since I did not appear ill with rheumatoid arthritis, save for swollen hands—long skirts and pants hid swollen knees—I feigned wellness in order to fit in, but I was always the outsider, a vapid smile creasing my dry lips, rage blistering my psyche, the weight of the world stooping my shoulders. This pretense led to my lying, embellishing stories, and frustrating whatever initiative might have crept up, unasked. Exhaustion’s field day knew no letup.

Also on my list was my deceased brother Mark who I’d harmed with unwanted comments for our mother’s end of life care. I still faulted rheumatologists and surgeons for not reviewing my diet, given many foods triggering inflammatory reactions in my body. Fog brain prevented my noting the connections. And there were others on the list.

Because Step Eight’s intent was to take responsibility for the harm I had caused others and myself, I prayed for Willingness to forgive, an alteration in my psyche only Higher Power could bring about. I could learn to live in harmony and peace with others, not just from an arm’s length, but I would have to do my part.

That would come about in Step Nine.