Dear WTS Members:
When working Step Nine, I was afraid to approach some people that I believed I had wronged--afraid that it would do more harm than good. I left amends unspoken to these few, though I note them in my mind and spirit for future change. When I had doubt about making a certain amends to someone, I decided it was better to leave them out of a face-to-face amends though I wrote a letter to this person and asked God to help me with my character flaw which had involved this person.
Know that whatever works for you is the right way to work this step. I had to hear the ideas of others who had done amends before I became willing to try one of them.
Some people I wanted to apologize to had already passed on. For those people I used the empty chair, either pretending to speak to them directly, or speaking as though to my Higher Power. I felt a bit foolish at this pretense at first--coming to realize that I must be willing to feel in order to heal. I am very much alive and tend to stuff down my pain, while those who have passed on (to my way of thinking) are already past all the things that happened here on earth, and they would want me to release these things and live "lightly."
After reading aloud, a letter of apology to an empty chair that represented a person who had passed on, I felt positive reverberations, a sense of peace, lightness of spirit, and some closure. Either way, I know that my overture was not unnoticed by the one who knows my heart through and through; if He allowed any invisible onlookers to be present, all well and good.
There were a group of folks that I apologized to who could not have cared less about the things that I perceived as "wrongs against them." Most of them had already forgotten the events, or else, I had blown them so far out of proportion that they had no idea what past event I was referring to.
In making an apology, I knew that there was a distinct possibility that I would meet head-on with rejection. My level of willingness kept me calm and wise as I asked my Higher Power to help me discern which people I needed to make face-to-face apologies to.
My sponsor reminded me that what others think of me is not my business. Actually, it is nearly impossible to know what another person thinks of me. Those few that have taken their jabs to make themselves feel more superior, I give them permission to be themselves and to work through their difficulties in God's time, and not mine. It is only "my business" to clean off my side of the street, and to ask God to give the willingness that I need to forgive so that I can work this step in a sincere manner.
QUESTIONS & SUGGESTED READING
1) With regard to your making amends to others, did you tend to make your amends in person by apology, by letter, or by speaking to an empty chair, or ???.
Your share may help us all to explore the various methods to "make amends."
2) What did you learn from this experience? Did you keep in mind that you are there to "sweep off your side of the street?"
3) In this Step we live out a bit of the Serenity Prayer: God grant us the serenity, to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Share with us your feelings about not being able to change the past and how it felt to be able to rectify your part in past events.
SUGGESTED READING: The A.A. Big Book, Chapter 6, INTO ACTION, (the approximate 17th paragraph from the beginning of the chapter), where it starts: "Under no condition do we criticize such a person or argue. . . "