Leader's Share and Step Questions
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible,
except when to do so would injure them or others.
The principle behind this Step is LOVE.
Greetings fellow travelers on the Broad Highway of Recovery! :-) Can you believe how far we've come? We're at Step Nine now! You should be quite pleased with your progress, but if you're somehow behind in your Step work, that's OK! Just keep on working at your and your sponsor's pace, and you will make it to Step Twelve when it's your time.
Ok, Step Nine. Wow, oh, wow, where to begin?!? When I first read this Step (before I got started in my own Step work with my sponsor), I said to myself (and I swear this is what I said!!!), "Well, I just won't do that Step, but I'll do everything else." Yep. This Step (along with Steps 4 and 5) were so scary to me that I figured I just wouldn't do them! So there! Who would know anyway? Or........[my alternative theory].......I wouldn't have to make any of these so-called "amends" (what are they anyway?) because **I** didn't harm people!!! People had harmed **ME**!
LOL! Wasn't I a cute little addict? :-) That's because I was still my addicted, non-recovered self back then! But as I often say, these Steps were written in the EXACT right order, because by the time I got to each Step, I was ready. Sure, I may have been a tad nervous, but I was ready to "go to any lengths" to find recovery, and I would sure give each Step my best effort. [Plus, the further along I got into the 12 Steps, the more I was relying on my Higher Power.]
So.......Step Nine......the Step I said I "wouldn't do." Well, I actually made my first amends right in the middle of my Step Four! [I'm *not* recommending that anyone does the Steps "out of order," but I consulted with my sponsor, and she did give me the go-ahead to do this first one at that time. The rest, I did later, during Step Nine.]
Ok, remember that awful bully I mentioned last week? The Nasty Narcissist? Well, while saying the "resentment prayer" [AABB p. 67] about him during my Step Four, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to "make things right" with him. While writing my inventory, I was able to see how, even though he was a Big Fat Bully, I had actually been pretty rude to him. I baited him so I could get into verbal spats with him so I could basically bully him right back. [I talked about this in my Step Four lead share.] So I decided to call him (he lives about 3,000 miles away), so I could apologize to him for my rudeness over the years. [Slogan: "Don't let unpleasant people rent space in your head."]
I knew when I made that phone call that this man was quite capable of taking my gesture and "throwing it back in my face." I was prepared for his seeing my effort as a "weakness," and that he would "pounce." But I was also in the "right attitude," and I concentrated on MY PART only; I wasn't thinking about all that he had done to ME; I was *ONLY* thinking about my rudeness. That was my focus, and I knew I could certainly apologize for that. No matter what he did, I would stay on track; I would stay focused on my behavior and my apology.
I prayed to my HP first, I centered myself in "the right attitude," and I made the call. And you know what happened? He apologized right back to me! Holy cow, you could have knocked me over with a feather! I didn't expect it; I wasn't even *hoping* for it! It just happened! Now.....lest you think this man had his own, sudden "personality transplant," he was right back to his bullying ways about a month later in a subsequent phone call. But everything was so different during that later phone call! I didn't "succumb" to his bullying! I wasn't affected by it! I didn't engage! It had no effect whatsoever!
I attribute this amazing scenario to several factors. Number one, the "resentment prayer" had a dramatic effect on my perception of this man. He went from an evil, malevolent miscreant, to a sick, damaged puppy during that prayer. He went from an enemy to be brought down, to a damaged "little boy" who needed my compassion. Number two, my new-found Higher Power was "with me" the whole time. So was my sponsor's support. I was never "alone" during that phone call. Number three, the Step Eight Prayer was "with me," also. I was mindful of the phrase, "not to harm others," while I was making this phone call, so that helped me not to think about HIS part at all (because, in the past, that's what made me lash out at him -- that's what made me want to "harm" him).
Clearly I was making "spiritual progress" in my program work at the time of this amends, even though I was only on Step Four at the time. The "old me" that faced this bully in the past was full of self-righteousness, self-justification, self-defensiveness, self-centeredness, and opprobrium! :-) Gee...do I sense a pattern here...? The principle behind Step Nine is sometimes listed as "love of others." Clearly that's where my head was when I telephoned this "Nasty Narcissist." He was sick, and I had been rude to him. My "love for him" required that I apologize for that behavior. That's why it worked for me! That's why Step Nine amends can "work" for anyone!
Another amends I made when I actually got to Step Nine was to my Ex. He had left me years earlier for a younger (thinner!) woman. Boy, I could have had some "ammunition" against HIM!!! :-) Talk about self-righteousness and self-justification! We had a child together, but our relationship was, by then, strained. But my Step Four inventory allowed me to find the ways in which **I** had harmed him; ways **I** had harmed the marriage. So I did what I learned with that bully; I concentrated *only* on my own behavior, and I apologized to him for just that. I made no mention of his behavior at all. [In fact, if you had overheard our conversation, you would have presumed that he had been a perfect angel, and only I had "done wrong." And I'm told that that's how a Step Nine should sound -- the other person's wrongs needn't enter into the conversation at all.]
Did I march into these situations perfectly calm and self-assured? No. I was nervous. I didn't know how the conversations would go. Could they have blown up in my face? SURE!! But I had learned to "let go of outcomes," right? I had learned to "let go of" expectations. [Slogan: "We're responsible for the effort, not the outcome."] This was all about my progress, my recovery -- focusing on several tiny events out of the entire history of the world, and owning them and apologizing for them. It was never as *HUGE* as I feared it would be! The other guy was never my focus -- only ME and my part. This is why the Ninth Step Prayer (and my HP in general!) was so important. It kept me from seeing this as some gargantuan, overwhelming morass of "bad behavior on everyone's part." It's what kept me from feeling like I was "going back into that mess," revisiting all the pain. It wasn't like that at all. It felt small, contained, doable. Doable! That's why I could do it! That's why *you* can do it! :-)
I'm reminded of SHAME as I write about this Step (but in a good way -- hear me out). Many addicts suffer from shame before they find recovery. It may even be part of what drives them. And it doesn't matter how that shame came into being, many of us just seem to have it. But I've heard it said that shame can be overcome by disclosure. What is this "disclosure"? We certainly touched upon it in our Step Four inventory -- we disclosed to ourselves our wrongdoings. Then in Step Five, we disclosed our inventory to our sponsors. In Step Nine, we get another chance at disclosure -- disclosing our wrongdoings to people in our lives by apologizing to them for that behavior. All of this DISCLOSURE relieves us of shame. Shame is like the dark shadow that hangs over our "drug use." Disclosure is like a bright light shining into that dark area, making it disappear (along with our drug use). Light and dark can't exist in the same place. That's why these Steps "shine a light" into our lives, and take away the dark need for our "drug of choice."
NINTH STEP PRAYER
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.
Most important, I will continue to make amends
by staying abstinent, helping others &
growing in spiritual progress.
A.) Read in the AABB, pg. 76, 3rd para. to pg. 84, thru 2nd para. (this reading includes the famous Step Nine promises which we'll look at later in the assignment).
B.) Take out your list from Step Eight. Make four columns:
Questions on the reading:
1. This reading contains one of the most important statements of our Recovery: "Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to [our HP] and the people about us." Do you see that? Do you believe it for yourself? How would you have felt about this statement when you were back into your full-blown addiction?
2. This reading says, "...we will never get over [compulsive eating] until we have done our utmost to straighten out the past." Why do you think this is?
3. This reading says, while making our amends, "His faults are never discussed. We stick to our own." Why do you think it's important not to bring up the other person's behavior or the harm that might have been done to us?
4. In this reading is found another great concept: "The [compulsive eater] is like a tornado roaring his way thru the lives of others." In what way were you a "tornado" in the lives of the others in your life?
5. The reading says, "The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it." What does this mean to you?
6. The reading (and, indeed, Step Eight) cautions us not to injure the person we're making amends to, nor others. What is an example of an amends that would actually DO HARM rather than good?
1. People I'll *never* face with a 9th Step amends (because it's too scary/hard/daunting),
2. People who, Ok, maybe I *could* make amends if I got enough courage,
3. People who I can make amends to, easy-peasy, no problem, and
4. People I can't make amends to because they died or moved, and I don't know how to reach them.
Let's start with #4 first. One of the people I felt I had to make amends to was my father. As with that bully in my life, I baited my father. I was deliberately rude to him to "get back at him" over his "misdeeds" -- his "ill treatment" of me. But he died 20 years before I ever found OA! How could I make amends to him? Well, I wrote him a letter. Then I sat down and "read it to him" (imagining him sitting across from me), and then I burned the letter outside, watching the smoke "drift up to him." It was a very cathartic moment for me -- very healing.
C.) The (famous!) Step Nine Promises (AABB page 83-84):
1.) For those people in your life who have died, or you truly have no idea where they could be, write them a letter, and "share it with them" as I did -- or in some other way that works for you. Share with the loop how that felt. [No need to mention names.]
2.) Work with your sponsor on the other 3 lists. Remember that my "bully" was in my #1 column. I was convinced I would *NEVER* make amends to him (too scary! too daunting!), and yet he turned out to be my very first one! Work with your sponsor (and through prayer!) to see if you can become willing to make amends to everyone on your whole list -- in all 4 columns.
• Pick one amends that you can do (no matter which column it's in), and share with the loop how it went (without mentioning names).
• 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.
HOLY COW! What a list of promises, huh? Here are some questions:
1. Do these promises seem "extravagant"? Have any of them come true for you? Please elaborate.
2. One of the Promises says that, "God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves." Has this come true for you? [Remember my Halloween story?] Please tell us about an experience of yours.
D. Some people have said that Bill W's friend, Dr. Bob, did not become sober until he had done Step Nine. Assuming this is true, why do you think it happened that way for him? Speculate! Guess! What are *your* thoughts on why that could be?
We're making great progress, even if you're "behind," so just keep on working, and I'll see you at Step Ten! :-)
The Twelve Steps
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