Step Nine

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


Hi my name is rose, COE and step leader for this quarter.

Many years ago, when I made up my first list of people to whom I owed an amends, I was very afraid of the task. Some of them were people I hadn't spoken to or seen in years, some of them were people I was afraid to speak to, many of them I had not one clue how to approach. "Jeez, I'm sorry I was such a terrible friend/sister/daughter/student/whatever" was the best I could come up w/ at first. I made two amends attempts of this kind, and neither of them went over very well. I was not specific enough, and mainly talked about how awful I was, and didn't pick the right moment to bring it up. I succeeded in making the people involved and myself uncomfortable and uncertain how next to proceed w/ the relationship. My intent was to go forward w/ the steps and to keep my own recovery going; I wasn't as concerned as I should have been about the people to whom I was supposed to be making amends.

"Most of us begin making certain kinds of direct amends from the day we join Overeaters Anonymous. The moment we tell our families that we are really going to try the program, the process has begun. In this area there are seldom any questions of timing or caution. We want to come in the door shouting the good news. After coming from our first meeting, or perhaps after we have finished reading the book "Alcoholics Anonymous," we usually want to sit down with some member of the family and readily admit the damage we have done by our compulsive eating. Almost always we want to go further and admit other defects that have made us hard to live with. This will be a very different occasion, and in sharp contrast with those hangover mornings when we alternated between reviling ourselves and blaming the family (and everyone else) for our troubles. At this first sitting it is necessary only that we make a general admission of our defects. It may be unwise at this stage to rehash certain harrowing episodes. Good judgment will suggest that we ought to take our time. While we may be quite willing to reveal the very worst, we must be sure to remember that we cannot buy our own peace of mind at the expense of others." (AA 12x12, pp.83-84)

It was this last piece of advice that I kind of missed the first time round. Intent on working the steps, I focused a little too much on the procedure and not enough on the individual situations. I still really needed to work on my social skills! But I learned from the experience, and it subsequent amends, I did a lot better. I understood that I was not reciting a laundry list of bad things, but explaining that I was sorry, that I had changed, and would try hard not to do it again. That made it easier for the other person to respond, and it made it easier for me to not *expect a response, good or bad. The first times I made amends, what I was really trying to do was get the other person to say "yeah, I'm sorry too," which is not at all the point of the ninth step. In later situations, I was concentrating my energy on my side of the street.

"Under no condition do we criticize such a person or argue. Simply we tell him that we will never get over compulsive eating until we have done our utmost to straighten out the past. We are there to sweep off our side of the street, realizing that nothing worth while can be accomplished until we do so, never trying to tell him what he should do. His faults are not discussed. We stick to our own. If our manner is calm, frank and open we will be gratified with the result." (Alcoholics Anonymous, pp.77-78)

With this in mind, I was able to make really good amends to several old friends, and redo the messed up ones over time. When it was appropriate, I was able to end relationships w/ respect and care, and renew estranged relationships. I became a lot more accepting of my family, and became able to have regular contact w/ them, which has been a real blessing now that both my parents are dead. I made amends to them before they passed away, and I made amends to my siblings so that we are able to have sane, working relationships, and keep our family alive. It's really an important piece of my recovery that everyone comes to my house for thanksgiving now.

Another important amends that I had to make was financial, which was scary and took a long time, but was well worth it in the long run. I was a tax dodger for years, and it took me a long time in the program before I was willing to address it. But again, my abstinence depended on it, so I had to do it. Taking responsibility for that mess was a huge step in direction of becoming an adult, instead of an adult child. And like many of the gifts of the program, I had to let go of the outcome, and just ask god to let me know his will for me, and the power to carry that out. My experience has been that when I do these seemingly impossible things, god reveals a plan for me that I could never ever have cooked up for myself. In Rozanne's prayer, "I Put My Hand In Yours," it says at the end "...we will find love and understanding beyond our wildest dreams," and this has certainly been true for me.


Are there any amends that you haven't made, because you are afraid of the outcome? If so, what do you think you need to do to move beyond your fear?

Have you ever made an amends that turned out badly, or surprised or disappointed you in some way?

If you've made a really big amends, a financial or other major life-impacting amends, how did you do it, and what motivated you?

Thanks for letting me share

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