The principle behind this step is BROTHERLY LOVE.
Well friends Iím sure if youíve gotten this far and survived to tell the tale, youíre well on your way to recovery. I know for me this step was also a pretty scary one because of course nobody wants to admit theyíve been wrong or made a mistake and I was most definitely one of those people. I mean if youíre a perfectionist like I was then surely you wouldnít have made any mistakes that needed rectifying or apologising for. Dead wrong! I know when I looked at what I had written and shared in steps four and five I realised how much Iíd hurt people, in particular those closest to me. I hadnít intentionally harmed them, mind you, but I had hurt them mostly by omission but some by what Iíd done or said.
I know that for me step nine was the beginning of taking responsibility for my part in things rather than blaming everyone for all my woes. But of course itís still very scary especially when I realised that most of the amends I owed were to my kids, and I thought that would be the hardest to do seeing parents are supposed to be the ones with all the answers and who never make mistakes. Well thatís what I used to think in the past. Also having to make amends to them would show my vulnerability and I didnít want to do that as I was supposed to be the strong one. But of course that was all a facade and look where it got me.
Fear was a huge thing that came up for me in my fourth step so I was pretty fearful at the thought of doing this step. But I know how fear had always held me back in the past and I knew that I would have to just walk through the fear and do it anyway. The other important thing I had to remember was that the purpose of doing step nine is to clear away the wreckage of my past and to look at my side of the street. Itís important when making amends to not have any expectations because we are doing this step so that weíll feel better and how the other person reacts is unimportant. I know for me it was so tempting to apologise for what Iíd done, and then justify it by saying that the reason I did that was because of what the other person had said or done. But this step is about us and what we have done to harm others and not why we did it or what the other person had done to us first.
In the literature it talks about different categories of amends. There are some that are easier to do, and then some others that we may not be ready or willing to make amends to, and then there are the others where the person has either died or canít be found. The one amends I never thought Iíd ever be able to do was being able to forgive my ex husband and actually own up to my part in things, but finally I was able to and that has been the most liberating of things Iíve done as well as improving my relationships with all my adult children who had suffered as a result of my unforgiveness. I know for me that the one that was the hardest for me was the one to my mom as she had passed away before I found program. So I had to write a letter to her over which I cried copious tears and I think she probably knows I was sorry for the way I treated her.
Another thing it says in the literature is that to amend something means to change it, and I know that saying sorry to someone but then carrying on and doing the same thing is useless, so for me one of the most powerful things Iíve tried to do is to change the way I am with people. As I always tell my children I canít change what I did in the past; all I can do is do it differently now. So I try to be a better mom to my children in the present even though they are all grown up, and I definitely try and be a better granny to my grandchildren.
In the Big Book it says that we will experience the promises after we are halfway through this step. I know that one of the many miracles of the promises for me is that fear is not as big a thing in my life anymore and because Iíve taken responsibility for what Iíve done in my life I donít allow myself to wallow in self pity.
Here are the promises as described in the Big Book.
ďIf 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.Ē Big Book, p.83-84.
ASSIGNMENT AND QUESTIONS ON STEP NINE
Read step nine in the OA 12 &12 or p.76 Ė 84 in the Big Book and answer the following questions.
1. What are your greatest fears about making amends?
2. How will you make amends to yourself?
3. Which amends do you think you will be able to do as soon as possible?
4. Which amends will you need to wait a while to be ready for?
5. What expectations do you have of how the other people will receive you?
6. What are ďliving amendsĒ and to whom do I owe them?
7. How is making amends more than just saying ďIím sorryĒ?
8. If you have already made some amends how did it feel?
9. Have you seen any of the Promises come true and if so please share about them?
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.
The Twelve Steps