Step Nine

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


The first time was the hardest, in part because there was almost a lifetime of amends to make. If we really live the Twelve Steps, there will be from time to time other Ninth Steps to take, but usually not the size of the first one. And of course, there is Step Ten, which suggests that we continue making amends whenever we do something that needs one. And if we did that conscientiously, we would never need to do a Step Nine again, unless something out of our past came up that we had not previously remembered.

If you read the sections of the Big Book of AA that deal with this issue, you will gain much wisdom on the subject. The BB is wonderful.

There are two parts that I think are hardest. One is dealing with dishonest things we may have done in the market place. This may be on the job, it may include shoplifting, or some other action of which we are now ashamed. We do not know how people will respond. We may lose our job. We might even have to face the police. I believe that we ought to discuss some of these situations and our fears about them with a trusted person. We may even rehearse how we want to go about doing the amend. Alcoholics, of course, have one tangible thing going for them. If they were noted for their alcoholism once, and now have some period of sobriety under their belts, people are often more likely to cut them some slack. Alas, rather fewer people view us as having a disease. On the other hand, our craziness is usually not quite that of the alcoholic, either. But now we need to face this situation the best we can, hard as it may be.

The other is with the people we love. When I had to tell my wife that I had spent all of the line of credit she had, without telling her, I was greatly afraid that she might leave me, or might never trust me again. Actually, all she did was to say, "I forgive you." And she never brought it up again. We did agree that I needed to let her handle our finances until recovery allowed me to deal with them again. Little by little, we have worked out a mutually satisfactory arrangement in which we both know everything about each other's finances. This is intelligent, anyway. Especially as we grow older. The result has been spectacular. We have saved more money in the last few years than we had in more than twenty-five years previously. Of course, our food and drink budget has gone way down, which has helped. My wife was then a much healthier person than I was, and she responded as such. She also loved me, and although at that time I questioned her sanity on that subject, I have come to know that this was not misplaced. She saw in me, as a recovering person, great hopes for all the things she had married me for in the first place. And in time, I fulfilled those hopes, because that is what recovery does for us.

Now we are able to walk on the beach behind our house hand in hand. In the house we could never have dreamed of being able to buy once, but now own.

It took me about a gallon of tears to get it all out. In fact, I was racked with sobs. She must have thought for a time that I had lost my mind! But all she said was, "I forgive you." That may not be another person's story, and if it is not, I am truly sorry. But on that day, and at that time, I was aware that I could ask for nothing, and that I might have to face some pretty serious consequences. I, by becoming entirely willing to begin with, could have lived with that, had it been the case. In the final analysis, it was all in the hands of the Higher Power, and by having done, I set in motion certain energies that in any case would have brought me to a good place, because recovery is always a good place. The fact that she wanted to continue on this road with me was a great bonus, and I will always be grateful for it. But had it been otherwise, I still would have done what was necessary to continue in recovery, and that would have still been the right thing to do, and the good thing to do.

Perhaps you have some experience that you feel you can share with the group that would encourage us in our recovery -- an experience that harms no one to talk about, but which illustrates to you the value of making amends.

Share with me.


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