Step Nine

Introduction
Part 1 and Questions for journaling
Part 2 and Questions for journaling
Part 3 and Questions for journaling
Part 4 and Questions for journaling


Step Nine ~ Part 1


"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."



Hello everyone. My name is Kay and I am a compulsive overeater and I am going to be the Step leader for Step 9.

Step 9 has been one of the most gratifying steps for me. As I made (and make) each of my amends (learning how to treat others better), my self-esteem has increased and I find myself liking me much better and treating myself much better. Before learning to work the steps, I was filled with self-hatred and self-loathing. For me, Step 9 has been about learning to treat my fellows with respect and consideration and it has been about learning how to refrain from behaving in a manner that leaves me feeling bad about the way I handled myself.

I want to share a passage from the Big Book that is very important to me. AA BB, page 82, paragraph 2: "Sometimes we hear an alcoholic (compulsive overeater) say that the only thing he needs to do is to keep sober (abstinent). Certainly he must keep sober (abstinent), for there will be no home if he doesn't. But he is yet a long way from making good to the wife or parents whom for years he has so shockingly treated." Paragraph 3: "Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil. We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety (abstinence) is enough." This is important to me because it points out that just having sobriety (abstinence) is not all this program is about. Otherwise a diet club would have fit the bill for me and I would have been able to stop eating compulsively and lose weight without this program. This is about my self-will and selfish and inconsiderate habits that keep all my relationships in turmoil.

As one of our members so eloquently shared, amends is about making changes. It is much more than about saying "I am sorry." There were some of my amends where I had said I was sorry for acting the way I did tons of times, but I had never made the changes necessary to "show a sincere desire to set right the wrong." I knew in my heart and shared with my sponsor that saying I was sorry would not fit the bill in these instances. There were other amends I needed to make where I did not think I had done anything wrong and needed to grow in understanding of how I had harmed people.

I needed to understand the difference between "hurting" people and "harming" people. This analogy, in part, help me to understand a little better. When we go to the dentist, he may hurt us by giving us an injection to deaden pain. He may hurt us by drilling out the cavities and filling them. He does not harm us.

I had so much confusion because I had been accused of hurting people and I took responsibility for everything whether it was "harm" or not. Sometimes telling the truth "hurts" people, but it does not harm them.

Here are the questions for journaling:

1. What does "direct" and "amends" mean to you and how does that apply to getting and keeping your side of the street clean?

Direct means face to face (where possible) and in person. When I needed to be honest with a person, I needed to learn to do it face to face and not send my messages through other people. Amends means changing the way I did things, said things, and thought about things. This applied to getting and keeping my side of the street clean by me learning to take responsibility for the way I was doing things wrong (that were not working for me). Example: If dishonesty was my character defect, I needed to learn to be honest with people face to face instead of pretending to agree to something with which I really did not agree.

2. What misgivings did/do you have about making some of your amends.

I had many misgivings. I had done things one way for so long even though I knew they were not working, but I just didn't know how to do it differently. I knew either to be passive (not do anything and be resentful as hell), to be aggressive (to retaliate openly with hostility), or to be passive aggressive (to get revenge in a sneaky way - like forgetting to wash my husband's underwear). I didn't know how I would be treated. I didn't know if I could take care of myself (emotionally) any other way. I could not see how doing the 9th Step was going to help me with my overeating.

3. What fears did you have that made you want to procrastinate?

I had a shear terror of no one liking me. I was afraid I would lose all my friends and family. I had heard of so many divorces in the program that I was afraid that my marriage would end in divorce. I didn't know how to "be" any other way. I was afraid of what people would say about me.

I would like to take a moment to say thanks to those who shared their Step 9 experiences with me because it gave me courage and the inspiration to do Step 9 myself.
 
 

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Step Nine ~ Part 1: Questions


"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."


1. What does direct and amends mean to you and how does that apply to getting and keeping your side of the street clean?

2. What misgivings did/do you have about making some of your amends.

3. What fears did you have that made you want to procrastinate?
 
 

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Step Nine ~ Part 2


"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."



Hi everyone. My name is Kay. I am a compulsive overeater and I am your leader for Step 9.

Step 9 today gives me the same thing it gave me the first time I worked it and that was someone with whom to bounce things off, my sponsor and other people in the program I can call to get an objective point of view.

We are cautioned by the AA and OA literature that we need to get our attitudes in the right place before we make amends. I remember my sponsor, during my first 9th step, asking me to rewrite what I needed to say to a friend of mine. I rewrote it for 90 days and read it to my sponsor each day. I was about to give up on this amend when one day my sponsor told me to go ahead and talk to this person. She said I no longer had animosity in my voice. I couldn't hear the animosity nor could I detect it in my attitude. My sponsor could.

We are also cautioned to keep the wording simple so that we do not bring up details that may be painful for those to whom we are making amends. I was taught to write down what I needed to say and go over it with my sponsor. I also learned how to get very clear and concise and through the years learned to be tactful and considerate while doing it. Before I could be really honestly willing to make my amends, I think I shared with you that I needed to know and understand "how" I harmed the other person. I needed to understand what the issues were. I remember talking to my husband one time about throwing some things for my projects away (they were in the garage).

My husband told me that he could not believe that I would get so picky about some pieces of formica. It was not about the formica. It was about his lack of consideration for me and my projects. That was the real issue. We are encouraged to place principles before personalities and it helps greatly for me to know which principle is involved before I try to make an amend.

The literature states that "Appropriateness should be our guide." I had such poor communication skills and there was a lot I needed to learn about talking to people, taking responsibility for my stuff, and trying to work things out between us.
 
 

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Step Nine ~ Part 2: Questions


"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."


1. In going over your amends with your sponsor, what amends did you find/have you found in which your plans were inappropriate?

2. What are some of the changes you made to get your attitude in the right place?

3. Have you had instances in which you were not cautious with the way in which you made an amend? Explain and share what you learned from that experience?
 
 

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Step Nine ~ Part 3


"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."



Hi everyone, my name is Kay and I am a compulsive overeater. This month we are studying Step 9.

We have discussed the meaning of "direct amends" and we have looked at some of the cautions of which the OA and AA literature remind us. Step 9 was such a pivotal point for me for not only could I clear up the damage I had done to others, but there was damage I had done to myself that needed to be cleaned up.

A very important exception is stated within the step; "except when to do so would injure them or others. The OA and AA literature goes to great length to explain how to get our attitude in the right place. This part also helped me understand how to get my heart in the right place. A sponsor was and is a very important tool in helping me to make sure that I was taking others into consideration and that my mission is to avoid causing further harm in the process of making my amends. One of the greatest gifts this program has given me is the means by which to get feedback from another person which will help me to see the whole picture instead of my own very limited viewpoint.

For me, the questions for journaling give us a forum to hear the experience, strength, and hope of others who have gone on before me. They are not in themselves a working of the Steps. The sharing of others give me hope that I too may be able to muster the courage and strength to do what this program requires me to do for recovery.
 
 

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Step Nine ~ Part 3: Questions


"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."


1. Are there people on your amends list who have died? In what way did you make your amend to them?

2. Would you explain what "living amends" means to you and share one experience and the results with the group?

3. Are there amends that you cannot make directly without harming "them or others?" Explain (please leave out names).

4. AA Big Book, page 82, reads "Sometimes we hear an alcoholic (compulsive overeater) say that the only thing he needs to do is to keep sober (abstinent). Certainly he must keep sober, for there will be no home if he doesn't. But he is yet a long way from making good to the wife or parents whom for years he has so shockingly treated..............The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil. We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough." The question then is: Is abstinence really enough? Explain.
 
 

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Step Nine ~ Conclusion


"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."



This program has been much about changing my thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. For me it has been about ferreting out those cunning, baffling subconscious thoughts that just as surely affect my behavior as the conscious ones.

Lastly, I would like to share that the promises written in the AA Big Book move me to want to make those amends to which I resist. Step 9 is the "work" we do to get the promises. I heard early in program that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Amends have been about doing something different and getting different results. For me, amends has been where I can see the cause and effect of my behavior, not only how it affects me, but how it affects others in my life. It has also given me an understanding of the reasons others behave the way they do. I never in my life would have dreamed that resentments, fears, and how I harm others would create the self-loathing and self-hatred that I felt for myself and I never would have believed (without working the steps) that I would come to understand that others behave the same way for the same reasons. This understanding helps me to be able to be more forgiving and more compassionate toward not only myself but others too.

God bless you on your journey.
 
 

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The Promises


"If we are painstaking about this phase [Step Nine] of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us -- sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them."

c. 1976, Alcoholics Anonymous, page 83-84

Twelve Gifts of the Twelve Steps


1. Hope instead of desperation

2. Faith instead of despair

3. Courage instead of fear

4. Peace of mind instead of confusion

5. Self-respect instead of self-contempt

6. Self-confidence instead of helplessness

7. The respect of others instead of their pity and contempt

8. A clear conscience instead of a sense of guilt

9. Real friendships instead of loneliness

10. A clear pattern of life instead of a purposeless existence

11. The love and understanding of our families instead of their doubts and fears

12. The freedom of a happy life instead of the bondage of a compulsive overeating obsession
 
 

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