LEADER'S SHARE ~ STEP NINE|
I dreaded this step more than any of the others, including the fourth and fifth steps. I've always envied those who seemed to have lead fairly normal lives, doing no more than a minimal amount of damage as they went along. I'm not one of those. My selfishness and self-centeredness knew no limits. Everywhere I went, everything I participated in, all that I touched, was adversely affected by my behavior. Some of it I could blame on my disease and some of it I couldn't.
I had family that has refused to even talk to me for many years. I owed considerable thousands of dollars, both in failing to make payment for things I had bought, and for direct theft and embezzlement. My anger had lashed out and hurt virtually everybody I knew. I had lied, cheated, manipulated, and generally bullied my way through life with nothing in mind but my own gain. For those times when I was a decent person, it was still done for how it reflected on me, not for what it offered to others.
One of the greatest benefits, though, of having my list of harms I was to make amends for, was it allowed me to see that the list, although long, was still finite. There was an end to it. In my mind, there had been no end at all, and it wasn't until I had something concrete to hold in my hand that I could acknowledge that this Step Nine was possible to do.
It wasn't always easy, but I used my sponsor before each and every amend that I made. When I wrote the letters to my parents, he read them first and helped me to see where small pieces of blame had crept in. He looked at each action I was to take and helped make sure that following through with them held no potential for further injury. He was also very helpful in restraining me from making foolish amends where none were owed. When direct amends weren't available, he helped me to find alternatives. He helped me work out payment plans to creditors and friends I had taken money from.
Some of it didn't go as well as maybe I had hoped. My parents didn't acknowledge my amends and continue to pretend that I don't exist, even after all these years. But I did it without blaming them for the cruel and abusive treatment I had received at their hands. This was another area where my sponsor was very helpful because he was able to help me to see that their lack of acceptance of my amends had more to do with their own guilt and shame and less to do with their unwillingness to accept me as family. I did my best to clean my side of it and I'm ok with it now.
Of all the amends, the ones I've disliked the most are the financial amends. I've never had much money or the kind of jobs that pay well. Usually, I just barely get by. It was so difficult to take a portion of my meager earnings and send them to someone else. Some days I'm willing to do this, and other days I'm not so willing. It will take me many years, maybe even a lifetime, to make financial restitution to all those that I owe money. I was spared legal difficulties when I found that the company I stole the thousands of dollars from was no longer in business, and my sponsor helped me find ways I could pay the money back to charitable organizations instead.
Where simple apologies were in order, I made them. Of all, these were probably the most gratifying because I had spent my life hiding from these people I had done wrong with my acerbic tongue and dry sarcasm. Now, I could walk down the street and not fear running into them unexpectedly. Having that sense of isolation removed was my first reward from working on this step. I no longer try to shut the door on my past. I'm open about my life to anybody that can benefit from my experiences, no matter how horrible. I make decisions now that don't keep only my own interests in mind. And last, but certainly not least, I am able to stay abstinent from compulsive overeating, one day at a time!
The only one of those promises that has not come true for me so far is the removing of my fear of economic insecurity. But that is understandable, in view of the text in the Big Book on this step that says "before we are halfway through." I still have quite a ways to go before I get close to that half way mark in financial restitution, but I have no doubt that this promise will come true for me also!
I love hearing about how others have done or approached their Step Nine. Maybe it's because mine is still a work in progress? Please tell me about your experiences with this step?