M(3), 9/21/15: Amends is More Than an Apology
It is the third Monday of the month, and fall is just around the corner. Hard to believe we’re into the school year already! The third Monday is where we discuss the various steps in my 12-step program; since it is September, the ninth month, we discuss Step Nine:
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
This is, without a doubt, the Monday to which I look forward the least, as step 9 is the step to which I personally have the most conflict. I’m sure if I went back through the archives of this blog I would find multiple posts that discuss in detail my conflict in executing this step; I won’t bore the world again.
In fact, the only thing that may have changed between last year and this year is a general sense of patience with regard to this step. Sooner or later, this turmoil will resolve itself, and I will be ready to proceed. It’s happened with many other crossroads in my life, and I have absolute faith it will happen with this one.
So that’s my personal journey with step 9, and when the time comes for me to proceed, you better believe I will be writing about it!
Of course, wiser people than myself attend this meeting, and they had more profound things than I to share:
First, a regular attendee who just celebrated his 29th year of sobriety, spoke of his conflict regarding step 9. Due to the nature of his profession, he interacts with dozens of people daily, which would make an amends list an overwhelmingly lengthy one. His sponsor at the time tugged on his sleeve and said, “Why don’t you start the amends process simply, and stop the behavior that caused you the need to make an amends?” When we are all twisted up on the how’s and why’s of an amends, it is critical to remember this is the most important aspect.
The woman who last year told me to pray for the willingness was back, and her advice was as spot on as it always is. She referenced the chapter we read this morning where it talks about the importance of sound judgment, and good timing playing a role in the amends process. She said whenever fear is involved, both of those things fly out the window, which is why it is critical to enlist the support of a sponsor or a spiritual advisor when tackling this step. Rushing into an amends often does more harm than good, so planning and practicing with someone who knows your history will produce the best results.
A friend who is back to the meeting after many weeks absence said it took her years of sobriety before she was ready to attend to this step. Her best advice is to get right with yourself before you attempt to get right with anyone else.
Another gentleman said the roadblock he encountered in completing this step was the incredulity of the people to whom he was making amends. Turns out, most people in his life didn’t think he was that bad! He overcame this obstacle by reminding himself, and those to whom he was making amends, that doing so is important to his sobriety. It doesn’t matter whether or not someone else thinks you need to make amends; it only matters that you think so.
A woman who is not as far along as step 9 told a cautionary tale about rushing this step. She was speaking with a loved one, who was asking about a time in her active addiction. She decided she may as well just forge ahead and start the amends process with the full and unvarnished truth. This candor turned out to be a mistake, and she regretted being as forthcoming as she was. She failed to consider the second part of the step, and inadvertently “injured” her loved one. She learned the valuable lesson of running things by her sponsor rather than making an impulsive decision.
Another regular attendee spoke of harm he had caused in his college days. He said the house-mother of his fraternity stands out as someone to whom he wishes he could make amends. He guesses he is currently around the age she was at the time, and it causes him shame to think of how his drinking antics affected her. She is, sadly, deceased, but he had been advised to write a letter to the woman to tell her what he would say if he was able. Great advice for any of us who feel we owe an amends to people who have passed away.
I said to the group that this is the meeting I dread the most going in, but leave with the most going out!
Feeling decidedly under the weather today, so I suppose the miracle is composing this post and hitting publish!
Posted on September 21, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, 12 steps, AA, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Amends, fellowship, Making amends, Monday, Recovery, Sobriety, Step 9, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.