Sunday, November 30, 2008

Two Voices

My earliest recovery began with A Course in Miracles. I was visiting my sister in California (I had run away from another relationship), and my sister came home from her job as Director of Education at a church and mentioned that a woman at work was teaching a class in how to make miracles happen. Something in her casual comment was just odd enough and just right enough that I had to know more. My sister brought me some articles from this woman and handouts from the class. It turned out that the woman was teaching a class in The Course in Miracles.

When I returned to Baltimore I found a Miracles study group at Ruscombe Mansion. In that group were people who participated in 12 step programs. Today I know how common that is but back then it felt like its own miracle that I should find in the group the ticket to the next stage of my recovery.

Recently I picked up the book, “Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow” by Karen Casey. Since I have been working on changing my thinking this title seemed to fit right in line. Of course, in a few minutes reading, I realized that Karen Casey is a Course in Miracles teacher and many of her thought changing concepts come from practicing The Course.

In one chapter she talks about learning to hear BOTH of the voices inside us. She says:

“There are always two voices present in our minds. One of them is quite loud and will always misdirect our thinking and our actions. It’s the voice that keeps us stuck in old behaviors and feeds our fears, our anger and constant discontent. The other voice, which is just as present but so much quieter, is ceaselessly conveying words of love and gratitude and hope and kindness. It’s the voice that comforts us. This voice makes us whole and ready to embrace the lessons we know are waiting for us.”

The challenge is how to tune out or turn down the volume of the louder voice and tune in the softer gentler voice. Casey says, “It’s not difficult to do but it requires breaking old, well-honed habits.”

I know now that we have many names for these voices. The first, loud one is the schema, the critical voice, the inner critic or the old tapes. The second, softer voice is the voice of recovery, healing, God and the small still voice of intuition and wisdom. It is also the voice that is built in to counter the schema. Someday we will learn that the small voice is installed at the same time as the scary schema voice. We are always given the solution when we are given the problem. Figure and ground may shift but they have both always been there.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Urges and Cravings

My therapist works with women who have or who have had eating disorders, alcoholism, and behavioral addictions like cutting. We have been talking about my habit—now starting to seem like an addiction—to fear thinking. I scare myself with “What if…?” scenarios. In the last few weeks as I have become more conscious of doing this I am noticing that it may correspond with times that I am feeling ok, or even—Good. Something in me needs to disrupt that?

Anyway, we’ve been talking about this way of thinking as a habit and that led to how do I change or disrupt that? Is there a way to not succumb to the part of me that wants to upset or scare me?

That’s when she said that she has a technique that she teaches women who binge eat, or purge or cut and that is to have some “urge distracters”. These are things they can turn to when the urge to indulge in their bad habit comes over them.

She said—this is the good part: “”We know from the research that any urge will pass in 15 to 20 minutes.”

Fifteen or 20 minutes! That’s not bad. When an urge to “use” hits an addict the feeling is always that this urge is going to last either forever or until I give in to it. But no—just 15 to 20 minutes. Now that is pretty manageable. Not easy but manageable.

The advice then is to be prepared ahead of time (the key to prepare ahead) with some activities or behaviors that will distract me for the necessary 15 to 20 minutes. I made a list: read Vogue, shop online, clean a closet or one drawer, call a friend, sing out loud etc.

Then it hit me. Alcoholics Anonymous—with out any research—knew this intuitively. When we talk about the craving to drink AA suggests:

Work with another alcoholic
Move a muscle change a thought
Call your sponsor
Call someone and ask them about them

This too shall pass.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Grateful for Mixed Blessings

Today many of us will be sitting down to dinner with family or friends and gratitude will be mentioned as we offer a blessing on the meal. It’s appropriate to the day of course; we know the Pilgrim’s story of thankfulness for surviving their first difficult year in the New World. At many of our tables there will be a nod to the formerly religious aspect of the day as someone suggests, “Let’s go around the table and everyone say what they’re grateful for.”

It’s easy at times like this to name good health, career success, and our kid’s accomplishments, but we often forget that some of our best gifts don’t come in pretty wrapping. I suggest that we put a new spin on this tradition. This year ask your guests: What are the mixed blessings in your life this year?

Here are some examples: There was the day you were running late and therefore missed the big accident or traffic jam; or the day you skipped church but when channel surfing heard a speaker that gave you a new outlook on life; Maybe it was the day you got lost in a new part of town but in your wandering found a store that sold exactly what you had been hunting for months. Get the idea?

Then try upping the ante a bit: How about when you got fired but at out-placement you found the work you really want to do? Or maybe the person you wanted to marry said “No”, and broke your heart, but months later you met the one you were supposed to make a life with. You get the idea, but let’s push it a bit farther. How about the serious illness that knocked you off your feet but having to stay in bed gave you time to recast your life? Or maybe the struggle to accept a more permanent disability made it plain who your friends really were or revealed a talent you didn’t know you had?

Okay, even harder now: What about the death of a loved one that devastated you but one day in the midst of grief you felt something other than pain and realized you were feeling joy like nothing you had ever felt and you knew that you could feel it because the grief had cracked you open. Similarly, you may have gotten a gift from someone else’s death when you saw just how short life is and you decided to quit with the worry/status/fear and get on with your life.

These mixed blessings are not easy to accept or admit, and sometimes it is just faith itself that is the gift. It can be in the midst of terrible things that we’re forced to develop trust, and then we find, when the crisis is over, that our new beliefs are ours to keep. Of course the graduate school level of this kind of gratitude is saying “Thank You” even before the good part comes. If you’ve had experience with mixed blessings you begin to know-- even while life is painful or unpleasant-- that there will be meaning in it. And so we say Thank You –purely on faith –even when we’re getting hit hard.

Yes, some of these blessings come in less than Hallmark moments. Maybe it was the painful feedback from a friend that clued you in on the truth about your personality flaws, or the DWI that was humiliating and expensive but it was also what made you look at your problem and change your life. Maybe it was an emotional breakdown that allowed you to put yourself back together in a new and stronger way.

As parents we coach our kids with, “What do you say?” when a gift is given. Can we learn to say that to ourselves when life hands us a package that isn’t very pretty?
So when that, “What are you grateful for?” comes around at your Thanksgiving table today don’t groan, but dig deep. Name the blessings that came from pain and grief or loss and trouble. When we can say Thanks for both the good and the bad, for the easy and hard times, then, just like the Pilgrims, we’ll have a real Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

If Nothing Changes Nothing Changes

Saturday my hair dresser told me about her love life. She’d been seeing a man for years and he’d come and go. One morning a few months ago he woke up and said “It’s over.” No discussion, no conversation. She suspected that he was seeing someone else or making space for someone else. She was devastated.

But, she told me, last week he called one day. He was in the neighborhood, he said, and could he stop by? Yes, she let him. He stayed two hours. The painter was there so they lay in her bed. Kissing. Touching. She told him she needed to hear him talk. Could he explain what had happened? Yes, he said, let’s have dinner tomorrow and talk about us.

The next day she did not hear from him. Nor the next day. When she called him he said he was sorry that he had stopped by, he really did not want to start up again. She suspected that he was going thru a bad patch with the other woman and came to her for comfort—again.

She sent him a text message saying she hated him. The next day she sent another one telling him his faults, and then one more text saying again that she hated him. She heard nothing from him.

I listened to her and I could see it all so clearly. No boundaries, no self-respect, actually believing that the angry text messages mattered to him. And then I had to ask myself: Why is it so easy to see it when another woman allows this in her life? What do others see when they look at my life?

If nothing changes nothing changes.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Codependent, Me?

Ok, I cannot write this without this preface: I have been in 12 step programs for more than 25 years—including Al-anon and ACOA. I have been in therapy even longer. I have pounded pillows, sobbed at graves, talked to dead people, written letters that I did not mail and many that I mailed. I have worked the steps and made amends and surrendered my life—in whole and part by part—numerous times. I have prayed, meditated, walked labyrinths, and even been to shamanic healers—four of them. I have read and read and read. I even teach this stuff! I have been healed and changed in the most amazing ways and I am so grateful for all that I had to feel and do and change.

BUT! But today, again in agony over a man, I thought: I really believe that if he changes his behavior I will feel different. Again: If he changes his behavior I will feel different. My happiness depends on what he says, does, thinks. Oh. My. God.

I think this is so deep in me that even with years of recovery and therapy and understanding the psychological dynamics of codependency, I really, really thought: If he changes his behavior I will feel different.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Will of God

Some people view the will of God as an elephant hanging overhead, ready to fall on them. Actually the word which we translate into English as “will” comes from both a Hebrew and a Greek word which means yearning. It is that yearning which lovers have for one another. Not a yearning of the mind alone or of the heart alone but of the whole being. Any yearning which we feel is only a glimmering of the depth of the yearning of God for us.

From: “Reading Thomas Merton” by Wilkie Au.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Desire and Expectations

We are concerned about the economy. We worry about the stock market, investments and retirement. We hesitate to open bank statements. We are told: It will get better. It will get worse. It will rebound. Some say it will be bad for another year and then it will improve.

How do we cope? We have to make do with less. Lots of articles offer advice: Eat at home. Take the bus. Rearrange don’t redecorate. At the heart is this question: Can we be happy with less? Can we do it when the American way is all about believing that we need and deserve more.

I keep thinking about is what it was like when I really did have less. In my 20’s I lived in Washington, DC and made $13,000. I had an apartment and a car. I packed my lunch and saved up to go out for dinner. Was I really as happy as I remember?

Yes, we all were. The reason isn’t complicated. We wanted less. I was proud to be paying rent. I wanted to drive instead of take the bus so making the car payment for my used 1971 VW Beetle was great. I bought clothes on sale or at consignment stores and when friends moved they passed along furniture they didn’t want. But over time, through reading and travel and meeting people, I learned about nicer cars, and better clothes. I began to want a real couch and a newer car and I began to fantasize about someday buying a house.

Later my hopes included owning a Subaru and –I laugh to remember this—I thought I’d have the perfect wardrobe when I could buy one (yeah, one) really good purse. Today, four houses later and many closets filled with shoes and purses, I can feel deprived simply by thinking about making my car last a couple more years. Everything I have now is nicer than what I had at 25 but it’s easy to feel poor. Why? Because I have seen --and imagined --better.

Wealth is relative to desire. Every time we yearn for something we can’t afford, we become poor--regardless of our resources. And when we are satisfied with what we have, we are rich. That second part is supposed to be true anyway. The hard part is to ignore knowing. We know there are nicer things and we know people who have them. In most cases we don’t really know those people but we think we do because we have seen them. For this you can blame television and magazines like Oprah and Vogue. We see what others buy and own and wear. Our appetites are continuously whetted. Every new thing whispers its promise of happiness then gradually slides into the background of everyday life. Then we notice that someone else has a different or nicer thing.

This is why many of us recall feeling better when we were younger. We felt like we had enough. We didn’t expect that we should have a lot more.

It’s our expectations that trip us up. We substitute one desire for another convinced each time that the next –whatever-- will make us happy. What we need is less desire not more money. The solution this year: Expect less and want less. It’s so anti-American, but so sane and so smart.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


It’s so hard to fight when you are a woman in recovery. Yes, you can still call names and make a fuss. But you know at some level that you have to care for your side of the street, and you know also that if you play out of bounds that you will have to make amends. You know that you really want to tell the emotional truth, you know that the truth you need to attend to is yours not his. You know you will have to talk to others about this so that keeps the really nasty stuff from coming out of your mouth. Recovery is the best revenge and you can hear an old sponsor laughing and saying, “You can do it in this relationship or the next one.” You can feel how much you hate that but you also know it’s true.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pray Your Experiences

This week I have been practicing a new form of prayer: pray your experiences. It is a form of surrender, a method of practicing the Third Step. In my prayer time I visualize an experience that I have had or one I am anticipating: a meeting at work, a conversation, an event and I hold this experience in my hands and lift it to God. It may include words but more typically it is just the visualizing of the experience held in my hands and held in God’s hands. Praying not for an outcome or a result. Just praying the experience.

The variation on this that I am trying this week because I’m tired and too busy and have –once again—overloaded my calendar: I lift up my calendar and hold the red leather book itself up to God.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

For God and Country

Donald was a Marine. He was a Marine a long ago in China and he was still a Marine fifty years later. Though he was active duty for only three years he did get the clear message that “once a Marine, always a Marine”.

It took me some time to catch on to just what this meant. At first I thought it was just a kind of a motto, like the Marine Battle Hymn, "From the Halls of Montezuma….”. Gratefully, early in my process of researching Donald’s past, another Marine tipped me off, “Diane, You’ll want to refer to Donald as a former-Marine, there are no EX-Marines.” It would seem that you can be discharged from all of the services for crimes of many kinds, but you never stop being a Marine.
The other layer of my realization about, “there are no Ex-Marines” came into full focus as I began to correspond with other men who were in China when Donald was. I began by subscribing to the Marine Gazette and Leatherneck magazine.

I laughed to imagine what my postman must think when my new Marine magazines arrive alongside my copies of Vogue and The New Yorker. I look at the pictures in the Leatherneck: men in camouflage and covered with mud. In the past I held men who looked like this apart. But now I can’t quite hold that separation. I feel my own class judgments and stereotypes creep in. Do I even understand what it means to be a soldier?

I placed a small ad in each of the Marine magazines. The notice said that I was trying to locate Marines who served in China 1937 to 1940. I gave my address, phone number and email address. I hoped was there might be someone alive who could help me with descriptions of setting, and tell me about the transport ship, the USS Chaumont. I expected to hear from family members who perhaps had their father’s scrapbooks or maybe an uncle’s clippings from China. I was unprepared for what happened.

The first ad appeared in the Leatherneck in September 2000 and the day that my copy of the magazine arrived I began to be drawn into the Marine world and into a very old world. The key word is old. I came home from work one day and my message machine was flashing that I had seven messages. I grabbed a pen to jot down numbers, but when I heard the first message I couldn’t write at all.

A firm male voice said, “This is Staff Sergeant Clifford Wells. I am responding to your notice in the Marine Gazette. I believe I can assist you. I served in China 1938 and departed Shanghai on the USS Truman 23 March 1940. Please call me”. He gave a number—I was sure this person was saluting as he spoke--and then he said; “Now I usually bowl on Monday and Wednesday so it’s best to call me on Friday.” I knew that no matter how young he had been in 1938, this was a really old guy, and he sounded like he was still “Staff Sergeant Wells”.

That week I had several messages like that. Most delivered in the clipped tones of radio bulletins. I also got a call from the son of a former-Marine, one from a nephew of someone who served in China during the war, and I got letters.
The letters echoed the phone calls:

“Dear Mam, I am writing in response to your recent notice in the Marine Gazette. I believe that I may be able to help you. I am… and they gave rank, name, duty assignment and location in China, which always included full date of arrival, and departure. The letters each described for several pages their assignment and duties, special services rendered—chauffeur to the Commander, chef for enlisted men, engineer or corpsman. Somewhere near the end of each letter the writer would tell me his current age—86, 87,88, 89---and how best to contact him. The closings were poignant: “I am happy to help you learn more, but please don’t call. I am extremely deaf.” Or “I will write back to you again but only when my son comes on Thursday to help me with the mail.”

But there was another face of former-Marines: I got email. The ghosts of China came to me through the Internet. The emails were slightly less formal: “Hi Diane. Rcvd ur email msg. My tour of duty in Shanghai was 3 Nov. 1938 thru 18 May 1940. Fourth Marines regimental Hdqtrs. I was C.W. radio operator. I have some phone books of Shanghai…”

That was the other wonder and a writer’s gift: Each man had documents.
Some had scrapbooks, or copies of the Walla Walla, a weekly newspaper put out by and for Marines in Shanghai in the late 1930’s. (The name Walla Walla was a joke, a mimicking of the sound of Chinese speech.) The former-Marines had saved 1938 Thanksgiving dinner programs that included the menu; they had box scores of Chinese ball games, with the roster of players. And they wanted to send it all to me.

Cliff Wells, Frenchy Dupont and George Howe became my phone and pen pals. Along with other former China Marines, these men became my friends and my teachers. They told me what it was like to be young and far from home, to see death all around them and then to have to kill. These men, older than the Greatest Generation, shared that group’s reluctance to talk to family about what they’d experienced, but they were willing, almost waiting, to tell me. It was Cliff who one day said, “Do you understand what “hand-to-hand combat” really means? And then told me in gruesome detail. It was Frenchy who explained what starvation felt like and his panic and fear when, as a prisoner, he realized he was going blind. And it was George who described seeing a guy “go off his rocker” when we talked about what it was like to see dead bodies every day and the strain of being surrounded by violence.

It did make me wonder, as it has since this began: Hadn’t any other historian or journalist stumbled across these guys? Had no one uncovered a group of men who could write the real “We Were There” story of events leading up to World War II? But no one had, and from the urgency I felt from these strangers, their push to get these materials into my hands, there weren’t a lot of people in their lives –not at their own Thanksgiving dinners or at the bowling alley who were willing to listen either. Here were the men who saw the Rape of Nanking and the bombing of the Panay, who lived the high life of Shanghai—“Paris of the Orient”—and the lowest of low life as prisoners in Battaan and Palawan, and who had survived. These men, who had been through all of that, and who still identified themselves first and always as US Marines, had been waiting 60 years to tell their story.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wanting Three the Possible versus The Actual

Here’s another piece of this: The potential or possible new thing is always more alluring and better than the real or actual whatever: backpack, scarf, shoes, outfit, or job or man. Do I live a potential life rather than an actual or real life? I imagine when I get that whatever: job, man, purse, scarf, necklace then I will: feel good, be happy, impress someone, be at peace. It’s always out there, it’s always in the future, its always potential and possible but never here, never now, never real. The actual and the real (man, job, outfit, haircut) is always imperfect.) As long as it’s possible and potential then it remains perfect and cannot disillusion me. In my fantasy it will always deliver me. Real human beings and real jobs and real things don’t deliver, not perfectly anyway.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Wanting Part Two

There is another day that stands out in my self survey of wanting. This time it is early morning and I am dressing for work. It will be a full day and a tense one. I am looking through jewelry boxes (no I never bought the necklace, it lost its appeal after about 20 days) But I have lots of other badly wanted and had-to-have pieces. I look through dresser drawers, pick up and put down silk scarves, finger some very nice belts, but uncharacteristically I am stumped. I don’t know what I want to wear. I hear myself say out loud, “What am I looking for?” and it strikes me, this too is a kind of wanting. I am shopping in my own closet and wanting some perfect accessory to do something for me today.

I step back from the closet and sit down. What do I want, and why is the choice so hard today? I stop and picture the upcoming activities on today’s schedule. Oh, I see, it’s going to be a difficult day with lots of meetings and most of them with difficult people. There will be several Board meetings and a session with entitled and cranky volunteers. Now I know what it is I am looking for in my shelves and drawers. I want to hang something around my neck, some badge or scapular disguised by silk twill or 14K gold that says simply and clearly: “Do Not Fuck With Me.”

As my real need becomes clear I laugh. Maybe gangsta jewelry is not so bad after all.
Maybe rapper chains with tough words on them are more honest than the Hermes scarf or a John Hardy bracelet. Those designer pieces require translation. A nice fat chain with “Fuck Off” in block letters edged in rhinestones would communicate well even to those who are not trained in sartorial translation.

Lots and lots of words have been written accusing advertising for creating consumer demand. Yes, fine, they’re right, but that’s not the whole story. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him wear Hermes or drink Evian. I know that I am highly susceptible to the influence of advertising but I don’t believe that Madison Avenue is the all powerful and malevolent “other” who makes me want. There is something in me that reaches out to the wanting as much as the advertising reaches in; I am at best a partner and at worst an accomplice.

Friday, November 07, 2008


It was a Wednesday afternoon at 5pm; I left the office early to get my hair cut. I arrive early and my hairdresser is late. I don’t mind. One of the perks of coming to this nice salon is the waiting room. It’s filled with comfy chairs and has a coffee bar and snacks and best of all, the latest women’s magazines. I get a fill of junk food in every sense. I hand my coat, and sit down with some tea and cookies and I pick up the new Town and Country magazine.

If, in that very moment, the second I crack open this glossy magazine, you could see me and see into me, you would see a woman who is happy and content. My day was busy but not too hard. I have an interesting job. My home life is good. All is well. In that moment frozen in time all I need is to get my hair cut and buy some milk on the way home.

But in the next 90 seconds my experience of myself changes. I open the magazine on my lap and I am looking at a photo spread of the actress Renee Russo wearing a pretty necklace. The necklace is distinctive. Rather than having a full strand of pearls this necklace is strung and knotted in such a way as to keep individual pearls about an inch away from each other. The effect is that it gives the appearance that the pearls are floating on the wearer’s skin. It is called “The Illusion Necklace”. By now you have seen these…the expensive and costume versions are ubiquitous but that day it was new to me.

What was different for me that day as I sat in the salon waiting room was that I was oddly aware of myself as I read about Renee and her necklace. Maybe because it was a good day, or because I was tired, but for some reason that day, in that moment, I was aware of my body and mind at once. And what I felt was a series of physiological changes as I was reading about The Illusion Necklace.

The article says that the necklace is also called the “Tin Cup” necklace, because Russo wore these pearls in every scene in that light romantic comedy. I remember the movie. Had I noticed the necklace? No, but I look at the photos in the magazine and it is lovely. Do I care? Well, yes, inexplicably and suddenly I do seem to care. What I feel however is my body changing; I feel my respiration and heart accelerating while I am aware of what is going through my head: “This is a great necklace; This is the best necklace; This is the perfect necklace, and then I hear myself think: I WANT THIS NECKLACE.”

Absolutely no more than three minutes have passed from sitting down content with my life, to reading a few words and now—Wham!-- I feel myself wanting this necklace. The message in my head is subtle but it’s there just like background noise that’s always there humming behind my thoughts and what it says is this: “My life will be better, improved, or fixed if I get THIS; and in this case the “this” is a few pearls artfully knotted on a silk string.

Now, you may be well ahead of me, but it was not until I sat to write this that it struck me: the name of this necklace is perfect. It is an ILLUSION.

I tell this story not because this was the first time my mood was changed by an ad but because this was the first time that I was aware of it while it was happening. I was conscious of the process as it penetrated my body and mind. I also saw that my response to this self observation was not necessarily “Oh silly me”. No, even as I watched myself discount my own good life I began to believe that I had to have this necklace. But I knew that something had just happened inside me.

I flipped through a couple of pages in this magazine, wanting to look as inconspicuous as possible. I felt like a prisoner awaiting interrogation who looks down to see the key to her escape at her feet. I was breathing hard. But, as if it was nothing, as if it were no big deal, I tore out the page and picture of the necklace, coughing to cover the sound of my theft.

A few days later at home I looked again at this photo. This was not about a necklace. But what was it and why did I want this then? I made a deal with myself that if I still wanted this necklace so badly in 30 days, then I would give myself permission to buy it. And so the illusion necklace became the beginning of my study of wanting.

I still have the magazine page. Every now and then I get it out and look at it closely. When I find myself NEEDING a certain new red purse or a special shimery gray eye shadow or the perfect—and one more--pair of shoes I first take a look at my photo of pretty Rene and the Illusion necklace.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Willingness Again

I am back to willingness again. Am I willing to be restored to sanity? Am I willing to see things differently? Am I willing to let God change me? What part of willingness takes my effort and what part is a grace?

Here is what I find in a note I wrote to myself in 2005:

“Willingness is a grace. It is a softening. It is leaving the door slightly ajar. It is a movement of energy. It is a freedom.”

Today what I cling to is that image of leaving the door slightly ajar. I cannot swing the door wide open. I am too afraid and the open door feels too vulnerable. But I can leave it open a crack, a tiny bit, slightly ajar. God’s grace has an opening. I am willing to do that.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Go Vote

Part of recovery is entering the world as a responsible person and being part of a community. Today is Election Day and we are privileged to vote for a new president. Please vote today. Exercise your right and your privilege. It doesn’t matter who you vote for but it really does matter that you participate. Action. Service. This too is gratitude.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Amends Prevention

This weekend visiting family I recalled a piece of advice I heard early in recovery:
“Don’t do anything you’ll have to make amends for later.” That is a kind of a failsafe slogan. I remember that it had a lot of impact after I had been working the 9th step and remembered how grisly some amends can be. This slogan reminds me that it can be very selfish and very self-protective to NOT get the last word and NOT make my point.

If you can’t do anything else: Just don’t do anything you're gonna have to make amends for later.