Amend means to change. Step Nine allows me to clear away the guilt and ill will. By making amends, I am able to build healthy relationships with others and live a more positive life for myself. It is not an easy thing to say I am sorry for the pain I have caused but it is necessary for my recovery. By living my life through the Twelve Steps, I am making my "living amends." My actions will be a testimony for the words, "I am sorry."
I am going to share with you the amends I made to myself and one to my sister, Becky. The best way to share is through example.
Making amends to myself:
Dear Cindi, For 35 years of your adult life, you felt inferior, weak, stupid and a failure because you could not control your intake of food. You blamed yourself repeatedly, thinking it was your fault that you were so overweight and that you could not or would not stop overeating. For years, you beat yourself up, hated yourself, lived in the world of self pity and allowed anger and resentments to consume your very soul. IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT! It was not and is not your fault that you have an addiction!
Your actions, your thoughts, your behaviors were of a person living in the grip of a strong addiction. YOU HAVE A DISEASE AND THAT DISEASE IS ADDICTION! You spent most of your adult life living in fear of the world and its people, sure that they were going to cause you harm. Yet, it is the disease of addiction that has caused you more harm than the rest of the world together.
You are human, Cindi. A human being doing the best that you know how to do with what you have. Whatever you did, it is time to let go of the harm it is doing you. Time to let go of that hurt, that pain and all of that anger. Time to let go of the harm that the disease of addiction has done to you and to embrace a new way of living.
It is through forgiving yourself for being human that you will be able to move forward with your life. The program of Overeaters Anonymous has taught you a new and better way of living. For the first time in your life, you don't have that hole in your soul. Your life is complete and filled with the spirituality of the Twelve Step program of OA.
I forgive you, Cindi. I forgive you for being human, for doing whatever wrongs you did and whatever harm you caused. Time to let it go, dear.
Love in recovery,
Amends to my sister Becky:
This amends was the very first amends I ever made in the program of OA. It actually occurred before my first Step Nine. My sister Becky had a son named Jordan who died at birth. She had been pregnant the full nine months but Jordan was strangled by the umbilical cord shortly before her due date.
The amends took place a year later when Becky and I and my mother were visiting the cemetary on what would have been Jordan's first birthday. As we stood over his grave, I had to open my big mouth. It was not the time nor the place to view my opinions on burying people and the expense. My sister was grieving for the son that she never knew and I was yapping about burial expenses. It never occurred to me that my opinion might not be welcome. No one responded to my comments so the subject lapsed. On the way home, I noticed that Becky was not saying anything at all. It wasn't until I got home that I realized what I had said and how it may have affected my sister. My heart sank and I knew I owed her an apology.
But I had never, in my entire adult life, been able to say, " I am sorry" to anyone. I would never admit to causing anyone pain. Prior to program, I would have simply hoarded the guilt feelings, stuffing them down with more food and bringing the feelings out during a period in which I really wanted to feel bad. I did that often. But I didn't have to do that now because I was in program working through the 12 Steps. I can't really remember what step I was on, I just know that an amends was necessary and I had to do it. Immediately!
I picked up the phone and called my mother's house where my sister was staying. I talked to Becky and told her I was sorry for expressing my viewpoint on burial expenses at an inappropriate time and manner. I said I was sorry that I had caused her pain and wanted to let her know that I did not mean to hurt her. Becky was very nice and said to forget about it. She knew I would not knowingly hurt her. That was it. The phone call was over. Yet that phone call was monumental for me in my program of recovery. I don't think I will ever forget doing that and how I felt afterwards. The relief was HUGE. The guilt was gone and a smile was on my face. I no longer had to carry the burden of doing something wrong on my shoulders for the rest of my life.
Mistake made. Mistake acknowledged. Lesson learned. Move on.
Love in recovery,
Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
The Ninth Step Prayer:
Higher Power, I pray for the right attitude to make my amends, being ever mindful not to harm others in the process. I ask for Your guidance in making indirect amends by staying abstinent, helping others and growing in spiritual progress.
Principle of Step Nine:
In Step Nine we set about repairing the damage we have done to others. Practicing the principle of love we learn to accept others as they are, not as we would have them be. We're beginning to take this new attitude not just toward other OA's, but also toward those at home, school, work, and in all areas of our lives. Slowly but surely we find we are establishing the best possible relationship with each person we know.
The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
of Overeaters Anonymous: Page 105
To help comprehend the questions, please read The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA. Read the chapter on Step Nine, answer the questions, go back and reread the chapter and add onto your answers if needed.
You might also like to read in the BB of AA, pages 76 through 84. (Fourth Edition)
Exercise: This week please make your amends to yourself. You can do this by writing yourself a letter in which you forgive yourself for all the harm you have caused, both to yourself and to others. You may or may not share it with us.
1. Which amends have I put off making? How is this affecting my recovery?
2. What are the dangers of doing more harm than good as I make my amends? Have I reviewed my list with my sponsor or another person who understands the Twelve Step way of life?
3. What is the purpose of Step Nine?
4. What sort of changes and/or restitutions am I willing to undertake to set right my wrongs?
5. What are living amends? Is there anyone I owe a living amend?
6. How shall I make amends to those people I cannot find or who have died? Who are they?