Phyllis here; chunkie, drunkie, junkie...clean, sober, abstinent since May 20, 1972
Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible EXCEPT where to do so would injure them or others
HIGHER POWER, I ASK YOUR HELP IN MAKING MY LIST OF ALL THOSE WHOM I HAVE HARMED. I WILL TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY MISTAKES AND BE FORGIVING TO OTHERS AS YOU ARE FORGIVING TO ME. GRANT ME THE WILLINGNESS TO BEGIN MY RESTITUTION. THIS I PRAY.
It has been said that we really look forward to the 8th step because we certainly want to tell those who have harmed us what they did. We can build up to a gleeful degree of how we will bring them to tears.
It is not about them, nor is it about "slamming" them. We want to rid ourselves of the problems we have carried so many years. It really is about us. We have the opportunity to "go to any length". We go out to repair the damage done in the past. We are trying to put our lives in order. It is a delicate process. "Wow", we say, "let's get out the angels and shout our way to glory". It is not a good idea to approach with the spiritual aspect. We run the risk of being "religious fanatics".
However, it is necessary to admit our own obsession and the effect on our behavior as it applys to the present situation....... how it is necessary to straighten our the past in order to reach recovery...no criticism, no anger, no pointing our finger. It's about us! It is harder to go to an enemy than a friend. Well, that's not news. Why should I reveal myself to some who were always difficult for me. Well, what was your reason for being "nasty". What in your life drew this reaction? Remember, it is about us! His faults and behavior are not discussed. We have enough trouble dealing with our own. I want to "clean my side of the street". As long as we remain calm and open, we will be happy. Our former enemies might be delighted with our action and wish us well. If, on the other hand, we are rejected, we must remember that we did our job. It's about us!
Personally, in two different cases, I have attempted amends at least 3 times, and each time I was rejected. My brother and I have not spoken in 25 years. I tried over and over again, but he refused my action. I turned him over to G-d, but I cried a lot....at the beginning. Now, at this point, I realize that I wouldn't be friends with him under any circumstances. I am at peace with it. I am very friendly with his ex-wife and 3 children. Incidentally, I know the reason for "harm" done in the first place.
On the other hand, the rejection was also by silence. No calling back. No messages. Just silence. No arguments or settlement. My son has not spoken to me in 10 years. I have never met his daughter, my granddaughter, who is 11 years old. In this case in particular, he has lost something very precious as I have. Again, I turn it over, sometimes over and over. It is not easy , but doing the right thing was important.
Aside from making living amends, which means to be aware, on a daily basis, of how we treat others. From the salesperson, to the hairdresser, to parents, to children and other loved ones, we must realize what we did and pray not to do it again. This seems like a life-time promise. IT IS! Of course, you realize that you needn't walk on eggshells, but be aware. Living amends mean more change, but rest assured you will be much happier from here on in.
To amend eating from the shelves in supermarkets and sometimes paying and other times, "I forgot". If the store is far away or it is not possible to remember all the places this happened, send a donation to a charity that feeds children and the hungry, or volunteer to make sure seniors or homeless get fed. If you didn't return that book to the library, send them a donation. Some of your amends possibly are for those who no longer with us. Write them a letter, or letters, read them to your sponsor and burn them, or make a paper airplane from them and float them down from a hillside or toss a rock into the ocean/river, etc. There may some wrongs that can't be made right. The BB says, "don't worry about them if we can honestly say to ourselves that we would if we could."
We don't delay. This is "GO" time. We wrote the list, we went over it with our sponsor, and now is the time for your relief. BB: "we should be sensible, tactful, considerate and humble without being servile or scraping". Good judgment, a careful sense of timing, courage and prudence are necessary considerations before we head out. Once again, a great amount of willingness is necessary for this step. Remember the step says "except when to do so would harm them, or others". We do not attempt amends with our raised sword and shield. Don't get others involved in your process, unless of course, they are the harmed parties You do not have to prove to anyone that you are making amends especially in the case of families. Again, it is about cleaning our house!
Do not be fearful about telling the truth. For me, the fastest way to the truth is a straight line.We have already experienced major change from working the steps on a daily basis. We know from that and listening to other members who have done this step, that we will be shown a still greater peace having taken responsibility for whatever the "Harm" is.
This step, which might not ever been thought of as possible,brings greater freedom physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I finally stepped out of the "identity crisis" thinking I was G-d! This has taken a long time. My relationship with my HP is vastly improved and I found a dear and wonderful "friend". ME. I truly like who I have become by way of these steps...and I am just beginning.
After 40 years of "sweeping my side of the street" the road appears much cleaner and flat. Every so often, I trip over a bump or stray piece of debris. And, then, I know the formula for freedom of the "bondage of self".
In regard to families, they will be keenly aware of changes you make as living amends. I remember saying "I'm the one with the Program and they are getting better".
What lengths am I willing to go to make amends?
What are my fears about this step?
Am I willing to examine the wrongs to the extent I will make that amend?
Am I able to understand the necessity for doing this?
How will it help my recovery?
Working the Steps
The Twelve Steps