M(3), 9/15: Talking Prudence While Practicing Evasion
And a beautiful Monday morning it is here on the Eastern side of the United States, hopefully it is equally beautiful where you sit and read right now. This morning’s meeting was a small-ish one, 11 people total, which is amazing, because I remember a time not too long ago when that number would have been a huge turnout!
Today’s meeting read and discussed Step 9 in the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous:
Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
For those not involved in a 12-step fellowship, the goal of step nine is to make right, as best as you can, the mistakes you made in active addiction. It’s about owning up, cleaning up, and moving on.
Like many aspects of the 12-step program, there is a wide and varied interpretation of exactly how one goes about “making direct amends,” who exactly are “such people,” when exactly is “whenever possible,” and, the big one, what constitutes an exception that “would injure them or others.” The answer to personal and specific step 9 issues is typically answered within the context of a sponsor/sponsee relationship.
Certainly, you do not have to be an alcoholic or an addict to be in need of making amends; as I have mentioned on too many occasions, the steps are simply a way to better oneself, doing any or all of them, regardless of your proclivity towards alcohol, is going to lead to self-improvement. In the case of step 9, it’s simple: you did wrong, so go ‘fess up, and make it right. No matter what the outcome, you will feel better for having cleared your conscience.
The biggest stumbling block I hear in meetings, and in fact heard about today, is this: Yes, I’ve done someone wrong, but that someone has done more wrong to me that I’ve ever done to him or her, so I refuse to make amends. The answer to this is simple, but not easy. It may or may not be true, the grievances you are tracking, but they are irrelevant to the spirit of Step 9. Making amends is about cleaning up your side of the street. It doesn’t matter what mistakes anyone else has made. Truthfully, the bottom line is it doesn’t really matter what response you receive. It simply matters that you are taking responsibility for your bad choices, and you are willing to make those mistakes as right as you can.
Another common misconception regarding step 9 is distinguishing between apologizing and making amends. As alcoholics/addicts, we have all said “I’m sorry” more times than we can count. Apologies are meaningless unless you can back them up with something. Step 9 is an honest attempt to do just that. We admit our past faults, and we offer to do what we can to make things right. Of course, making things right can go in a million directions depending upon the wrong that was committed, and as such deciding the when’s, why’s and how’s will depend upon individual circumstances.
Finally, the subject that typically comes up when talking about step 9: so do you have to sit down with every person you have ever known and make a formal amends with him or her? The answer to this, obviously, is no, but not so obvious is the selection of people to make the list, and just how specific you need to be when confessing. Again, individual circumstances will vary, and having a trusted confidant, or sponsor, will help you greatly in sorting out the list.
One nugget of wisdom I took with me today, and will greatly help me as I go forward with the amends process, came from a gentleman with 28 years of sobriety. He explained that making amends is the process of mending something. The minute you arrest the bad behavior, you have started the amends process. Quite simply, if you are stressing out about making amends, as I have numerous times throughout this process: stop the bad behavior. If you amends was lying to someone, stop lying. If it was stealing from someone… you get the picture. Not a perspective I have considered before, that the regular and honest attempt to incorporate the 12 steps into my daily life is a type of living amends to the people I love.
I would love to hear from any and all of my recovery-minded friends on what step 9 means to them!
Having the privilege of handing a 30-day coin to a newcomer to the Fellowship. It’s a great way to start the day, celebrating milestones in recovery!
Posted on September 15, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, 12 steps, AA, Addiction, Alcoholic Anonymous, Alcoholism, Making amends, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, Recovery, Self-Help, Sobriety, Step 9, Support group, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.