Step Nine

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



STEP NINE~QUESTION #1

If you have an AA or OA 12&12, read step #9. The three types of forgiveness are:

* Accepting God's forgiveness
* Forgiving others who may have hurt you
* Forgiving yourself

Another way to look at step #9 is forgiveness. We ask others to forgive us for our past wrongs, and we forgive those who wronged us.

Which of the types of forgiveness is the easiest? The hardest? What past hurts are you still holding onto? Can you let go of those hurts, be specific? Have you blamed God for those who hurt you?

LEADERS SHARE:

The easiest for me is forgive myself because this us usually what comes to mind first. If somebody hurt me and I reacted badly, I can easily forgive myself. The most difficult is to forgive others because they are the ones who wronged me! Through this program, I learned to forgive those who wronged me, though I acknowledge the wrong and how it hurt me. I used to think that I had to forgive the wrong itself, but I do not. The biggest hurt that still lingers on in me is loneliness and isolation because of the way I was treated as a child. I am learning to let go of this one by telling God how I feel and how it hurts. I also ask God to forgive those who hurt me as a child when these feelings come up. Slapping both of my ears from behind while wearing my hearing aids is a serious wrong committed against me. The school staff looking the other way is also a wrong committed against me. My reaction as a child each time this happened to me was to run and hide and not associate with anybody else. I even spent one entire summer in my bedroom, not to go outside for three months when I was around 13 years old. I never got invited to any parties or get togethers. While writing this, I can still feel the deep sense of loneliness and the intense hurt of my ears being slapped. When doing the 4th and 5th steps this time around, I was reading another book that tells me that my life really does have a purpose. I prayed to God that I felt lonely, hurt, and abandoned. I also asked God to give me the willingness to forgive all those who hurt me and caused this pain. I also asked God to forgive them Himself. I used to blame God because those who hurt me were people who went to church. I thought of myself as being society's reject that nobody wanted around and everybody hated me. Today, I go to church and I know God did not approve of people hurting me the way they did. However, God never wastes a hurt by allowing me to use those hurts in a constructive manner by helping others who may have had the same type of hurts. At work, even as a supervisor, I rarely get invited to social functions or luncheons. As a result, when I buy lunch alone at a restaurant, I order it to go and take it back to the office. When asked, I explain that I do not eat lunch out alone. I only eat out when I am with somebody. I am getting over the loneliness by acting on opportunities offered by the Celebrate Recovery group at my church. Once a month, we have an outing on Saturday night where everybody accepts me as I am and makes me feel welcome. My friends in this program belong to the various 12 step programs and we all come together in recovery.

This is one area that more is being revealed to me as time marches on. God reveals "stuff" to me only when I am ready. I love myself, God loves me just the way as I am, and there are others who really do care about me and love me just the way I am. I do accept the prejudice against me because of my hearing impairment because it is wrong. But being able to forgive others, while acknowledging their actions are wrong, is freedom for me. God allows me to share how I feel to others.



STEP NINE~QUESTION #2

Write about a resentment you have. How are you using the program to be free of it? How have righteous indignation and resentment wreaked havoc in your life? How do you handle anger today? Discuss and reflect on the idea that nothing pays off like restraint of tongue and pen. How have you used this to avoid conflict? Have you harmed anybody resulting from any of this?

LEADERS SHARE:

I currently have a resentment against somebody who works for me. I tried to keep him away on assignments so he would not try to take advantage of me and try to walk all over me. Unfortunately, he is coming back on Monday and no other manager wants him in their office. My manager and I intend to sit him down and let him know that neither one of us will tolerate his unacceptable behavior. He makes my job as supervisor very hard because he gets other people in the office behind him. I am using what I have learned, that it is OK to stick up for myself. I do not have to tolerate others walking all over me. As I answered in an earlier question, this situation caused me to jump all over another employee. I made an amend to that employee that afternoon and I stated that I acted inappropriately and I was out of line. I also shared with that employee what was going on and why I was feeling the way I was. She accepted my apology and she shared with me that she was going through a rough period herself and it was hard for her to focus. This lesson taught me the importance of making amends right away and to share my feelings with the person. Also, I learned that I needed to make a list of the things that griped me. I made the list and developed a plan of action to resolve the issues. One of the issues was things being turned into me late. I notified the team that I was starting to document non-responses or late responses. I also stated that late timesheets will be documented. Handling anger is hard for me because of my fear of other's reactions. When something makes me angry, I first need to take a look at what made me angry and focus on the principle and to keep the personalities out of it.

When I speak or write, I make every effort to act in an appropriate manner while upholding my dignity. sometimes, it is necessary to speak or write in strong words. But the words do not need to be harsh. I have always avoided conflict and this has always provided a continuous supply of fresh resentments. It is OK to speak up for myself as long as I stick to the principles.

When the going gets tough, I pray to God for guidance and direction. I also ask God to provide the words to use. I just need to remember to pray all other times (which I do most days).



STEP NINE~QUESTION #3

Read the following from page 13 in the AA Big Book:

At the hospital I was separated from alcohol for the last time. Treatment seemed wise, for I showed signs of delirium tremens.

There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then I understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost. I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch. I have not had a drink since.

My schoolmate visited me, and I fully acquainted him with my problems and deficiencies. We made a list of people I had hurt or toward whom I felt resentment. I expressed my entire willingness to approach these individuals, admitting my wrong. Never was I to be critical of them. I was to right all such matters to the utmost of my ability.

I was to test my thinking by the new God-consciousness within. Common sense would thus become uncommon sense. I was to sit quietly when in doubt, asking only for direction and strength to meet my problems as He would have me. Never was I to pray for myself, except as my requests bore on my usefulness to others. Then only might I expect to receive. But that would be in great measure.

My friend promised when these things were done I would enter upon a new relationship with my Creator; that I would have the elements of a way of living which answered all my problems. Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility

Discuss and reflect on your willingness to approach those individuals that you have harmed. Also, discuss and think about what attitude you should have in making an amends. Have you made your amends fist? Are you working on making amends? Do you make direct amends on a daily basis? If not, make your list.

LEADERS SHARE:

I make every attempt to approach individuals as soon as I realize I may have been wrong. Even if the other person did not think I was wrong or did not notice, I still make the amend to them. The attitude that I have is that I want things to be correct and that I want to make right anything I did that was wrong. Being an isolator and somebody who never did anything outside of himself, my list was very short. As time marches on and I continue to grow in program, a name may pop in that I never thought of before. I just need to be open to this and turn it over to God and seek his care, guidance, and direction. I make a lot of 10th step amends. The 9th step relates to those in my past. The biggest direct amend that I had to make was to myself. If I make an amend to myself by working the best program to my ability and stay connected to God, then I will be of maximum service to my fellows. I believe that God never wastes a hurt (although the hurt was not sanctioned by him). God allows me to use the hurts from my past to share them with others so that I might be able to touch at least one person and be a part of their recovery. My study this week in church through daily readings is on caring for others in need by showing love and compassion. This is brand new material for me to be able to open up to others to show compassion and to feel their pain and hurt with them.

With the knowledge that there are people who care about me and a God who is crazy about me (and everybody else as well), there is no need to have the temptation to have ill will towards others. There will always be people in this world who will hurt others in many different ways. I just do not have to go along with them.



STEP NINE~QUESTION #4

Read the following the AA Big Book:

There may be some wrongs we can never fully right. We don't worry about them if we can honestly say to ourselves that we would right them if we could. Some people cannot be seen - we sent them an honest letter. And there may be a valid reason for postponement in some cases. But we don't delay if it can be avoided. We should be sensible, tactful, considerate and humble without being servile or scraping. As God's people we stand on our feet; we don't crawl before anyone.

Describe the lengths to which you would go for victory over eating compulsively. Besides your eating, what other defects have you had to live with?

LEADERS SHARE:

I am willing to do lots of things to avoid my old eating behaviors. For example, getting up at 3:45am to post these questions on weekday mornings is something I would not do in my past because it would be too inconvenient. Today, posting and answering these questions has been the greatest blessing to my program to date! The moral of this story is do something that's outside of your comfort zone that will help others and you will be truly blessed beyond your wildest imagination.

The last sentence in the above paragraph really means a lot to me. Working this program teaches me that I am entitled to stand up on my feet and I do not crawl before anybody. During my childhood years, if I was not hiding from other people, I would be crawling before others from an emotional standpoint. It gets repeated over and over in my church that "we are all equal - PERIOD!"

The other glaring defect that I must continually work on is to express my feelings to others in a timely manner when they do something that bothers me. This is one trait that is improving over time with much improvement to come as times marches on. This trait reminds me that I will always have more work to do. I am no longer ashamed or embarrassed to tell people that I go to church. Today, I accept complements from others and I no longer thing they are lying to me. I also have learned to give complements to other people. There must be an experience from my childhood that I do not remember that taught me not to give complements to others. The only thing I remember is when I was in high school, I was told to never smile at other people because they might think I was serious. Today, I smile at other people all the time.



STEP NINE~QUESTION #5

Have you experienced any of your most severe critics meeting you more than half way when making admissions and amends? How do you stay in balance when this happens or quite the opposite happens? Are you delaying making amends because you are afraid? If so, how can you move into the "spirit" of Step Nine?" Write on the scariest amend you have to make (or made) and how you will move (have moved) into action to make it.

LEADERS SHARE:

I find most people accept amends when they are offered. When somebody offers an amend for their part, I accept it as an opportunity to rebuild an understanding with that person. Only when the person reacts with sarcasm or ridicule, that I find it hard to accept. Of course, my side of the street is clean and the inappropriate reaction was not my fault. All I need to do is to make sure my side is clean, the other side is the other person's problem.

I have learned that it is much easier to make an amend as soon as possible after I did something wrong. It is much more difficult if I wait for a later time.

The hardest amend I ever had to make was to somebody two levels above me because I feel that I put him on the spot during a staff meeting. I apologized a couple days later when I had the opportunity. His response was "that's the reason he makes the big bucks to be put on the spot." This person was somebody who was very sarcastic and mean to people and myself. He constantly put me down in front of others. The good part in all this is that my side of the street is clean. I am not responsible for a jerk being a jerk.



STEP NINE~QUESTION #6

Read the following quote from page 83 of the AA Big Book:

The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it. Unless one's family expresses a desire to live upon spiritual principles we think we ought not to urge them. We should not talk incessantly to them about spiritual matters. They will change in time. Our behavior will convince them more than our words. We must remember that ten or twenty years of drunkenness (overeating) would make a skeptic out of anyone.

Write on "the spiritual life is not a theory, we have to live it." Someone may reject an amend. Has this happened to you--please detail what you did and how it was or was not translated into rejection? If you have not experienced this, create a plan for dealing with a rejected amends. Discuss and reflect on "Above all, we should try to be absolutely sure that we are not delaying because we are afraid." Discuss and reflect on the idea that "...(only) when your past is settled with, (can) present challenges be met..."

LEADERS SHARE:

The above quote tells me to "walk the talk, not talk the talk" In other words, let others see through my actions, not my words. I never had anyone reject an apology or amend. I guess if this happens to me, I would be at ease that I have done whatever I could to set things straight. If the other person may be someone that I need to pray for because they may be sick and in their disease as well. I would ask God to bless them and to help them go through what they need to go through.

When my past is clean, I can be in the present. Working these steps over and over again brings more stuff up from my past. One of the gifts of being an isolator and someone who hid from others, is that I would have very few persons that I would have harmed. Today, I am working a living amend with myself to socialize with others, and to connect with other people. When others do things to me that are wrong, I am learning to speak up.



STEP NINE~QUESTION #7

Steps four through nine are the "house cleaning steps." Before moving on to the maintenance steps, we need to ask ourselves if there is anything we left out. This could be a memory from childhood/adolescence (happy or painful), a resentment that we did not see earlier that has surfaced, a behavior that we find ourselves doing (character defects), somebody we hurt or wronged, or just anything we feel the need to put down that did not fit into any particular question.

Are there any hurts from your childhood or adolescence that you have not yet shared.

List the things that God has shown you through working the steps so far.

LEADERS SHARE:

Believe it or not, stuff still comes up for me from my childhood or adolescence. I guess, this will continue to happen because God is revealing things to me when I am ready. Sometimes, I do not think I am ready, but I put my trust in God that He knows when I am ready. I have been sharing pictures of my childhood with a sponsee who has been sharing pictures from hers. Yesterday in my quest for more pictures to scan, I came across several pictures from my mother's stuff that I forgot about. In those pictures, I saw myself smiling, but I know deep inside I was very sad and depressed. I was also very lonely and felt separated from everybody else. While answering these questions, I remembered when somebody chased after me with a knife when I was working after high school at a music store. I remember being very scared and of course I thought it was all my fault. Before that, I remembered having a newspaper delivery route and some of my co-workers forced me into playing simulated oral sex. They forced me to be on my hands and knees while I was forced to pretend I was having oral sex. I would be called "four eared" because of my hearing aids.

In working the steps, God has shown me that I am loved by Him and I am His child just like anybody else. I learned to ask God in helping me to forgive those who hurt me and to ask God to forgive them as well. I acknowledge to God that what was done to me was wrong. However, I need to forgive in order to move forward in my program. When I feel hurt or isolated, I turn to God for help, guidance, and direction. Through Him, I can be healed of the hurts.

Today, I had the distinct pleasure of informing an employee of mine that I will no longer allow his constant socializing throughout the workday and distracting my other employees. This employee has been the source of a resentment. The action needed to deal with the resentment is to hold him accountable for his behavior and work ethics (lack of). As the supervisor, I am responsible for the entire organization and I am learning to speak honestly. My greatest fear, even from my own employees, is their reaction.

Also, God has shown me that in addition to me being accountable for my actions, I need to hold others accountable. When somebody does something wrong, it is OK to speak out and express my feelings as long as I stick to the principles and keep the personalities out of it.



Love In Recovery,
Dennis

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