My name is Dodee and I'm a compulsive eater.
From the Big Book, page 76:
"Now we need more action, without which we find that "Faith without works is dead." Let's look at Steps Eight and Nine. We have a list of all persons we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make amends. We made it when we took inventory. We subjected ourselves to a drastic self-appraisal. Now we go out to our fellows and repair the damage done in the past. We attempt to sweep away the debris which has accumulated out of our effort to live on self-will and run the show ourselves. If we haven't the will to do this, we ask until it comes. Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol."
This sounds terrifying. I spent my whole life hoping that no one noticed me screwing up and now I'm supposed to go to people and tell them I did?
As you continue to read this text in the Big Book, there are many conditions that should be met before we go to someone and do a direct amend. That's why working with a sponsor on this step is so important.
For one thing we should make sure that our amend does not cause more harm than good.
Someone did an amend to me one time. I was helping her with her computer in her home and she said "you know when I first met you, I thought you were a real dork, but now I see that you are great!!" Well, it was very hurtful to me that she once thought I was a dork.
The point of this step is to establish better relationships with others (according to the OA 12 X 12). It will not be of much help to admit we have done wrong and then continue the same behavior.
So that brings us to living amends. We admit our wrongs, and then turn those behaviors over to our HP, so that we don't continue. I think these living amends are most noticeable to our family members. We become easier to live with and also become a good example to those who may not be working a program.
Some of you may be anxious to do these amends and get on with the maintenence steps. And I was willing to make the living amends to my family after the apologies. But I have to admit that I only have made restitution and amends to those outside my family when my HP has made my life miserable enough that it seemed I had no choice. Some of these involved money and I had to pay it back.
The OA 12 x 12 uses the term "sweeping off our side of the street". Again we need to check things out with our sponsors when our amend is to someone who has also done us wrong. We need to make sure we are not bringing up THEIR wrongs to us.
There are people on our 8th Step lists who cannot be reached. Some have died. My parents were on my list and had died before I came into program. The way I made amends to my mother was by starting to treat my mother-in-law the way I wished I had treated my mother. The result is a relationship with my MIL that may not have happened were it not for OA.
I also wrote several letters to my parents and then destroyed them. That helped me to see exactly what my wrongs were.
I believe strongly that we need to make amends to ourselves. I treated myself worse than I ever treated anyone else. I said things to myself I would never say to another person. And I allowed my disease to go on doing damage to my body.
There are many ways to make amends to ourselves. Working all the steps to the best of our ability helps to raise our self-confidence. Saying affirmations to ourselves helps to regate the negative self-talk we have done most of our lives. Learning to speak our opinions, but letting go of the outcomes lets us see our own value. Perhaps we are living or working in a situation which erodes our self-worth. We may need to make changes in these areas.
We cannot study the 9th Step without mentioning the Promises of the Program, which are listed right after the 9th Step in the Big Book.
"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us -- sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them. "
STEP NINE ~ QUESTIONS
1. Do you have your list from the 8th Step? Have you become ready?
2. Have you gone over every person with your sponsor?
3. Do you have some who need direct amends?
How will you do that?
4. How can you do living amends?
5. Has anyone ever done an amend to you?
What was the result?
6. Do you have people on your list who have died? How have you handled the amend to them?
7. Have you had to make sure you were only sweeping YOUR side of the street with some people on your list? How did you do that?
8. How can you make amends to yourself?
9. Have you seen any of the Promises come true?
How have they come true?
10. Do you have any more to share about the 9th Step?