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Step 9 completes what I
started in step 8. I make amends to those that I have harmed. I
pay back debts
I owe. I apologize. I write letters. I find time to do and say
things that would
help heal the damage that I have done. I try to bring goodness
I had brought discord and destruction. It takes insight, courage
to make such amends, but now I have the help of my God to know
what to do and
how to do it. I learn to earnestly seek the right way to go
about this process
from my God. I start to live the kind of life that my God has
meant for me to
live all along.
- From 12Step.org
After we have made a list of people we have harmed, have
reflected carefully upon each instance,
and have tried to possess ourselves of the right attitude in
which to proceed, we will see
that the making of direct amends divides those we should
approach into several classes.
There will be those who ought to be dealt with just as soon as
we become reasonably confident
that we can maintain our sobriety. There will be those to whom
we can make only partial
restitution, lest complete disclosures do them or others more
harm than good. There will be
other cases where action ought to be deferred, and still others
in which by the very nature
of the situation we shall never be able to make direct personal
contact at all.
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 83
Timing is an essential part of this step. We should make amends
when the first opportunity presents itself,
except when to do so will cause more harm. Sometimes we cannot
actually make the amends; it is neither
possible nor practical. In some cases, amends may be beyond our
means. We have found that
willingness can serve in the place of action where we are unable
to contact the person we have harmed.
However, we should never fail to contact anyone because of
embarrassment, fear or procrastination.
...In some old relationships, an unresolved conflict may still
exist. We do our part to resolve
old conflicts by making our amends. We want to step away from
further antagonisms and ongoing
resentments. In many instances we can only go to the person and
humbly ask for understanding
of past wrongs. Sometimes this will be a joyous occasion when
some old friend or relative proves
very willing to let go of their bitterness. To go to someone who
is hurting from the burn of our
misdeeds can be dangerous. Indirect amends may be necessary
where direct ones would be unsafe or
endanger other people. We can only make our amends to the best
of our ability. We try to remember
that when we make amends, we are doing it for ourselves. Instead
of feeling guilty and remorseful,
we feel relieved about our past.
- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, Chapter 4/Step 9
The making of amends needs to be approached cautiously by
codependent people. There are three things
amends are or can be. There is one thing they definitely should
Amends can be these things:
- Sincere efforts to offer apology for past harm.
- Wonderful bridge-builders for more positive future
- Effective agents for removing the tremendous weight of
guilt, shame, and remorse.
The one thing amends should never be, though, are installment
payments on false guilt or
There are five categories of persons to whom we may consider
making amends. Notice how this
contrasts with what we did in Step 8. There we included everyone
to whom we were
willing to make amends. In Step 9, however, as we prepare
to execute this step,
we use a high degree of discretion regarding to whom we
will make amends and
when this should happen...
- Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery, p. 62,
We will need to have the proper attitude as we approach this
step. First, it is good to have
forgiven both ourselves and the people we injured, regardless of
anything they might have done
to retaliate. We will not succeed in resolving the conflict if
we are still angry and defensive.
Second, we need to have a good idea going into the encounter
about what we want to say and
accomplish. Most importantly we want to make sure we state our
apology without assigning any
blame to the ones we injured. We must act responsibly as we make
our confession adn attempt
amends, having thought through all the possible consequences so
that we will not be caught off
guard and be provoked to anger. A rehearsal with a sponsor,
therapist, or friend may help
We need to be open to any response we get from people we've
injured, and be ready to accept their
response without becoming angry. We are not there to manipulate
them into forgiving us. In order to
have this come off smoothly, we should make every effort to
purge our bad feelings toward the person
or incident before we meet to speak. This will help us resist
the temptation to point out to them
what we felt they did to provoke us. We are only there to talk
about our own behavior.
It is also a good idea not to take the other person by surprise.
They have a right to know that you intend
to make amends. They have a right to refuse to let you do this
at this time....You can leave an open
to talk whenever and wherever they might feel comfortable at
some time in the future.
- The Twelve Step Journal, by Claudette Wassil-Grimm, p.
When we make amends we are simply telling the person we harmed
the truth about our actions as we now
see it, trusting that the healing, the self-acceptance, and the
serenity we will gain is worth the
rejection we may encounter. We are trusting that God and our
fellow seekers in this Way can do more to bring
us to happiness and intimacy than any negative opinion could
hurt us. Although this risking of open
by those to whom we make amends is frightening, we have the
experience of thousands of people who have taken
this step before us to encourage and strengthen us as we go.
After making amends to all the people we
listed in Step Eight, we begin to experience the "promises of
Doing Step Nine correctly also takes courage, prudence, good
judgment, and a careful sense of timing.
If you are just coming into the Twelve Steps as you read this,
remember that you're not ready to do
Step Nine yet. You've got eight steps to walk through first. By
the time you get to this point you
may be amazed at the way you have become ready to trust God and
do Step Nine....
- A Hunger for Healing, by Keith Miller, p. 148
As you can see, this will be a lengthy, difficult,
soul-searching process that requires creativity
and courage. Your guides can be important here. By reviewing
your process as you go along, they can
help you stay in reality. Maybe they will have different
reactions to the events than you have, or
perhaps they will challenge your intentions or suggest
alternative actions. Remember, these amends
do not have to be done all at once. You deserve time to think
and feel the process through. Again,
gentleness is your goal.
- A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Steps, by Patrick Carnes,