There are many, many ways to organize making amends...as many as there are members in our fellowship. Here are some suggestions about one way to approach this step. As always, take what you like and leave the rest. Questions follow the suggestions.
1. As I see it, amends are a gift to YOU. They are a way of completing the clean-up that the forgiveness of step 8 began. Regardless of how your amends are received, you have done your part, you have swept clean your side of the street. And you will be free to move on. As you prepare to make amends, please write a prayer to your HP giving thanks for the blessing that these amends will be in your life. Give thanks specifically for the ways this step will change your life, free you, open your life to new possibilities. Expressing these expectations in the form of thanksgivings will help to frame amends in a more positive light. This is not about Mommy dragging you back to the store manager where you stole the candy bar....using shame to ‘turn you away from a life of crime’ or whatever negative message you were given. This is more like taking the rocks out of your backpack that you have been carrying around all these years....so long that you have forgotten about many of them. You will feel so much lighter....
2. Get some index cards (or tear up rectangles of paper) and put each person’s name (from your list on Step 8) on one....and write the issue(s) for which you desire to make amends. As a first step, commit to praying for each person daily for two weeks. Write the dates you pray for them on the back of the card, to keep yourself honest. Pray any of the following:
AABB p 67: This is a sick man/woman. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.
AABB 552: Ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them....Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness...Even when you don’t really want it for them, and your prayers are only words, and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.
This will put you in a healthier place to make amends.
3. Now go through your list and sort them into three columns: “Now, as soon as I can.” “ Maybe later, but not yet”. And “ Not in this lifetime!” Don’t judge yourself over this....truth will set you free. You HP will honor your honesty. Forgiveness doesn’t always happen in this lifetime.... And you can start Step 10 as soon as you have begun the process of Step 9....
4. Share this list with your sponsor and discuss your ideas about what you might make as amends in the Now column. We addicts often have a skewed idea of what is on our side of the street and what is not....we tend to take responsibility for things we are not responsible for....and avoid feeling responsible for things we ought to take responsibility for. Another perspective can be very helpful. Talk, too, about whether direct amends or indirect amends would be more appropriate. If direct amends are appropriate, but you don’t believe you are ready or able to do that at this point, indirect amends might be the next right step, as a first effort....amends can be made with baby steps....
5. You will NOT likely finish making amends in a week or so....that is ok. God knows the correct timing. The important thing is to do what you can, when you can. Once you have discussed amends with your sponsor, draft up a rough schedule....for the NOW column...and get started. Remember, you are doing amends FOR YOUR RECOVERY. Continue to pray for the person you are focused on...and release any expectation of ‘an appropriate response from them’. What they think of you is none of your business. Their reaction is likewise none of your business. You are not doing this to improve, change, re-install the relationship....although those things might happen. You are merely cleaning up your side of the street so you don’t have to continue tripping over those rocks! You may need to write out what you plan to say, role play with your sponsor or trusted advisor...do what you need to do, and don’t worry about perfection in this.
6. When you have made an amends, take some time to share your gratitude with you HP for the courage, the freedom and the blessings that come from this exercise. Celebrate this important step in your recovery.
1. Have you made 9th step amends before? What have these experiences been like? What have you learned from them?
2. How has this format of working Step 9 been for you?
3. If there are people with whom you are not yet willing to make direct amends, what baby steps might you be willing to do to get there?
4. Are YOU on your amends list? Why or why not? How could you make amends to yourself?
5. Why do you think we don’t focus on how other people have hurt US as we make amends?
6. If there are people who would be hurt by direct amends, what indirect amends might be appropriate for you to do instead?
7. Step 9 says to do direct amends except when to do so would injure them or others. Are you included in ‘others’? Why or why not?
8. What are the blessings that come from taking this step?
9. How will you celebrate the making of an amends?
10. Up til now, one step leads to the next, and it is generally assumed that we will finish one step before moving on to the next. Do you think you have to have all your amends completed before moving on to Step 10? Why or why not?
Here are my answers to these questions:
I have made 9th step amends before....most of the people were quick to accept my amends and tell me that they don’t remember things as darkly as I do. I have learned that carrying the guilt and fear and shame for a long time makes me see the transgressions in a much darker light than the people I have hurt do, much of the time. It is better to clean up my messes as soon as possible!
This format has been helpful to me because it has helped me clarify what actions to take, and when it is wiser to wait. It has helped me share the decision making process with my HP and my sponsor....
There are a couple of people to whom it would not be safe for me to make direct amends—they are simply too abusive—but I am willing to write them a kind and thoughtful note.
I definitely am on my amends list....first....because I know I have hurt myself by not looking after myself, by not setting boundaries, by letting others take advantage of me. I will make amends to myself by focusing on my program, by creating opportunities for fun and growth and by treating myself with love and kindness.
I think we don’t focus on how others have hurt us as we make amends because this is about cleaning up MY side of the street. Others’ side of the street is none of my business. They hurt me once....holding on to resentments hurts me again and again and again. I have no control over what they do, but I have the ability to control HOW I respond to what they do...and I choose not to continue to give them power over me by holding on to resentments.
Most of the amends I will make will involve changing my behavior, rather than talking about what I did. This is because I have either already apologized for my behaviors, or else because I would cause more pain by bringing it up –and that would defeat the purpose of making amends.
I believe I am included in ‘others’....with my history of abuse, and my struggles with PTSD, it is unwise to set myself up for further injury with direct amends to people who are not safe.
The blessings that come from taking this step include freedom from shame, guilt, hurt, resentment, and the burden of procrastination. I can enjoy a clean slate, and the opportunity to sweep clean my life with a daily 10th step. I can respect myself and honor my life.
I will celebrate the making of amends by lighting a candle and thanking my HP for the courage and willingness to do this housecleaning step. I will celebrate by taking care of myself.
I don’t think you have to have all amends completed before moving on to Step 10. HP will let me know when the right time is to make my amends...and I will wait for HP’s perfect timing. Step 9 is an ongoing step....continued in Step 10, on a daily basis.
The Twelve Steps
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