My name is Penny, and I am a compulsive eater and 3rd quarter leader for the WTS Step Study.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people except when to do so would injure them or others.
This step seriously asks me to swallow my pride and face my past. The "such people" are *real* flesh and blood people ... this is not an abstract idea that I'm dealing with, these are real life lives that I have hurt and damaged. This is NOT easy to do, but the benefits are enormous.
What does it mean to make an amend? As I noted in Step 8, it's a multi-part process: 1. admitting to myself/God that I did something wrong; 2. facing the person I harmed and acknowledging that I did a wrong; 3. making restitution (if possible) for the wrong; and (most important for recovery) doing something *different* next time I'm in a similar situation.
What's a "direct" amend? It's literally going directly to the person I've harmed. Sometimes it's by phone (for those long-distance people), sometimes it's in person. Direct means exactly that ... I have to face my "victim" and speak outright to them.
Occasionally, there are the people that I simply can't get to in person either because they have died or they have moved away or are otherwise not reachable. I had several of all of these on my amends list(s). I wrote letters to all of them. For those who had died, I read the letter to my sponsor (in one case I went to the cemetery). For those who had no address, I read the letter to my sponsor and decided that I would do the amend directly if/when that person should be back in my life again (and that's happened).
When I make amends, I don't play games. I ask HP for strength, guidance and wisdom ... and then I do it. I already know what I'm going to say (I did that in the 8th step prep work). I pay NO attention to their faults (even they had plenty of them): this is MY recovery, not theirs; I am cleaning off MY side of the street.
The reaction of the people I contacted was typically mixed. Some people were kind and gracious, some spoke angrily with me, some laughed it off. It didn't matter how the people responded because this is MY work, not theirs. And without meaning to sound arrogant or condescending, their response is almost unimportant. I mean, I'd LOVE everyone to LOVE me again and forgive me. But if they don't, that's not my problem or my issue. I've done what I can to repair the past.
I've never had to *not* make an amend because it might hurt someone else, so I have no experience there. My guess is that I always need to follow the dictate that I am not permitted to take care of myself at the serious expense of another person.
A quick cute anecdote about making amends:
When I was in junior high school, I would go to a local convenience store and steal little commercially made pastries. I stopped when I almost got caught in another store. Anyway - YEARS later, it's time to make amends to the store that I stole from. I figure that I stole maybe 20 of them at 5 cents a pop (boy, am I dating myself). Allowing for inflation and today's cost of these things, maybe $20 would cover it. So I head back to my childhood neighborhood and right to the deli, my husband in tow (he decides to wait outside). Mind you, this has been on my mind for 25 years (that's a LONG time to feel guilty for something). I go into the store; the manager isn't there. Well, I'm probably not going to be back in the area for a long time, so I want to give this money to the clerk. I explain who I am and what I'm doing ... and I swear this guy is looking around for the "candid camera." He has NO idea what I am talking about ... and he absolutely will not take my money because then the register will come up unbalanced and there's no way he's going to be able to explain this thing to the boss. We're at an impasse. I look around the counter, and there are these donation boxes for all sorts of charities. Which one does the boss *really* like, I ask. The animal shelter? Fine. I put the money into the animal shelter donation box and leave. This was 15 years ago, and I have no doubt that the clerk is STILL talking about me.
Step 9 offers the ultimate freedom.
Yours in recovery,
1. Why is it so important for Step 9 success to focus
on OUR own recovery work and not on others' reactions?
2. Step 9 works even if the person we've harmed
doesn't forgive us. Can you explain this?
3. Step 9 is a four-part process
4. Do you agree that an amend isn't really worth it if
you're not going to change your behavior?
- 1. admitting to ourselves;
- 2. acknowledging to the injured party;
- 3. making restitution [if possible] for the wrong;
- 4. not repeating the same behavior). How do you see working Step 9 in your recovery?
5. Restitution can take many forms: direct payment for
something stolen, a donation (of time/ volunteering or
money) on behalf of the injured person. Are there
other kinds of restitution that you can think of?
6. If you have worked Step 9, could you share your
experience with the group?
7. If you haven't worked Step 9, are there things that
might hold you back from doing it?
8. Step 9 provides the ultimate freedom. Explain,
Thanks for letting me share.