The Twelve Steps of Co-Dependents Anonymous: Step Eight

Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

My newfound attitude and direction in life meant that I needed to make a list of the people who had been devastated by my past attitudes and actions.

I reached as far back into my past as I could. I worked to recall all my relationships, beginning with mom and dad, brothers and sisters, grandparents, childhood friends, baby-sitters, kindergarten friends, teachers, church friends, ministers and pastors, neighborhood friends, friends of my parents—any one with whom I had interacted in my formative years, because all these relationships held meaning and keys as to why my adult relationships were going wrong.

Of course, as I reached my teens, I developed more relationships: school friends (and enemies) school teachers, girl friends, class mates, coaches, teammates, principles, etc. And family relationships changed and redefined as I grew older: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. These had to be re-examined during each phase of my life.

Then came college and marriage: teachers, students, fellow-students, fraternity friends, dorm friends, serious girl friends, mentors, unmarried friends, married friends, and my wife.

Next were in-laws, children, co-workers, employees, employers, more adult friends, older friends from the previous generation, younger friends from subsequent generations, buddies, wife's friends, wife's extended family, in-law's friends, business associates, business mentors, therapists, recovery friends, and God.

The last name I put on the list was my own.

In each of these relationships, my co-dependent behaviors had manifested in one way or another. Usually through being a know-it-all, domineering, my-way-or-the-highway, type of person. I had acted out of my fear-based and shame-based protectiveness. I found some manifestation of my Step Four inventory in each relationship I'd listed. I had indeed hurt others (many others) and myself.

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Some of these people were dead. Some of them I had no way of finding. Some of them didn't want me to find them. I put all their names on the list anyway, because a key to working Step Eight is making the list.

I used the list to discover how I had hurt each relationship, because these were clues to myself and my codependence. These were issues I wanted to overcome. These were issues I wanted to deal with. I wanted to understand the dynamics of these relationships and get past the shame, guilt, despair and turmoil I had helped create in them.

A second key to Step Eight is that I was willing to make the amends.

I was willing to admit the mistakes I'd made. I was willing to change. I was willing to try again. I was willing to discover how to create better relationships, based on healthier premises and boundaries.

Step Eight is as much self-examination as it is relationship examination. Step Eight is about learning who I was and who I am, so that future relationships do not become more emeshed attempts for me to recreate the past and deal with my past yet again in unhealthy ways.

Step Eight is looking at my past, gratefully accepting it, learning from it, and choosing to create healthier relationships in the present.

next: The Twelve Steps of Co-Dependents Anonymous Step Nine

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, January 13). The Twelve Steps of Co-Dependents Anonymous: Step Eight, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Last Updated: August 7, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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