Dear Fellow Travelers:
Step 9 reads:
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
My name is Donna and I am a compulsive eater.
Step 9, like step 8, will move us from attitude to action. In Step 8, we prayerfully made a list of people that we owe amends to. Now we pray for the strength and courage to make those amends. We pray for the wisdom to see who to approach first; what to say or do when we approach them, and about what form the amends should take.
This step needs much prayer and guidance. It is not an easy thing to confess your faults to someone who may be estranged from you and/or angry with you. It is not easy to decide who should be approached, and how. If we go by our own instincts, we might rationalize all of our needs for amends away by saying that someone would be hurt by my efforts to make amends! We fear verbal retaliation, or worse. Some of us may fear jail. Some of us may fear a broken relationship. There are many reasons to fear confrontation of our past deeds. But the Program says we must do this, to the best of our ability, in order to recover. History has borne out the ultimate good results of doing this. "Cleaning up our side of the street", as we became ready to do in Step 8, is essential for continued recovery.
Here are some things that I think are important, in Step 8.
1. Begin and continue in prayer and/or meditation. Whatever it takes for you to get in touch with your HP, do NOT do this step without it. Take your list and ask for wisdom about who to approach, and how. Ask HP for help as you go to that person, and just before and after you talk to that person. If you and the person are of the same faith, you can even pray together if that seems appropriate after the approach. Remember: these steps are NOT about the other person's reaction to you. It does not matter if they forgive you; it matters only that YOU make amends.
2. Ask your sponsor and/or clergy person for help. In addition to reviewing your Step 8 list, they can join you in prayer. Some sponsors even offer to go with you, when you talk to the people that you are making amends to. (They wait in the car outside while you talk to your person, but at least they are there for you!)
3. Consider carefully what form the amends should take. Sometimes a verbal apology is not enough. If you have stolen, you should do what you can to return what you stole.
4. A change in attitude is the most important amends you may make! There are people that you will approach and apologize, and who will accept your apology skeptically and think "yeah OK I forgive you but you are gonna do that again!". ASk God, who already removed your character defects in Step 7, to continue doing so one day at a time. The person will see your change as it works itself out in your life.
This change in attitude is something that is important, for those on your amends list who you cannot approach. There are some people who your prayers and/or your sponsor will show you that it is not best to approach. There are some you may not legally be able to approach. These are the ones who will need your changed attitude, which only HP can help you find and practice. They may never see this changed attitude, but your heart will know and the change will affect you on all levels.
5. Make your life an amends. There are things which your Step 7 has changed within you. Living your life as evidence of those changes is "making living amends". This will affect all parts of your life.
Putting your amends into action isn't always easy. Here are some examples:
When I did my step 8 list, I found a person who had died on it. I certainly could not approach her! So, I ended up writing a letter to this dead person and, as an attempt at amends for my actions, I have made financial contributions to a cause I know she was interested in.
As a result of an argument with my ex, my mother-in-law broke off contact with me. She and I had been close, during my marriage. But she would not speak to me. I realized in one Step 8 that I owed her an amends, for some previous harsh words and a resentful attitude. Yet I could not tell her, because of her choice not to speak to me. So I prayed for her; for God to bless her. And I found that, as I did, I became aware of an acceptance in my attitude toward her. And I feel that now I am living in an amends-attitude toward her, despite her continued bitterness.
Step 9 is hard, and it is not something that can be accomplished in one day. It takes one day at a time, of asking God who to approach and how. It takes courage and honesty and strength, all of which we get from our HP and our fellow members of OA.
I challenge you to do one thing today that shows your committment to step 9. Either approach someone, or ask God to change your attitude and actions toward someone on the list. And let us all know what you did, how you did it, and what changes it made in your life.
Donna, food addict
1. How is making amends more than just saying "I'm sorry"?
2. What do I believe is the purpose of Step 9?
3. What are "living amends" and how do I make them?
4. How will I handle hostility or resistance, from people I approach, if it occurs?
5. What amends have I put off making, and how is this immobilizing my recovery?
Donna, food addict