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Step 9/Twelve Steps


Each year I like to run through the 12 steps as written in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. These steps were an adaptation of many works before them, and are a universal truth for all people who want to enjoy good mental Hygiene and an abundant life. They have been adopted by some 150 self-help groups, and in the words of my favourite forensic psychologist, are the best basis for mental health around IF worked and lived.


I am not a step guru, and like to keep things as simple as possible. Step 9 says we are to:


Make DIRECT amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.


Who didn't come into a recovery journey or 12 step programs and try to make amends in the early going. Particularly to family and those we were closest to? We, in the early going, wanted to save things that were important to us. We had much work to do on ourselves and our spiritual condition before we were truly ready to make sincere amends.


I made the list in 7. The one piece of advice I got that really helped me get benefit from this step was to consult about my list, and consult about specific amends just before doing them.


Like many addicted people, I was inclined to have moments of grandiosity. My list was in fact a lot longer than it should have been because didn't you know, I was the baddest. Some will relate.


After review of the list, it was prioritized by the weight of what I was carrying. I had to remember I was taking this action strictly for me, not trying to please the other person, and had to remember that I had to be totally honest, no matter what the cost. My 9th step coach helped me to do this, he was fully experienced.


To my wife, I kept my admissions to a general nature. I said enough to her to dispel thoughts she may have had about falsely accusing me of intolerable behavior, but did not get specific enough to hurt 3rd parties. As my program tells me, for many of us, our sexual conduct was not exemplary!


To my former wife and a family member of hers, it was decided to wait until a private face to face opportunity came around. In time, it did, and the amend was made properly.


To a couple of people who had passed, I wrote a letter of amends to them.


For the majority, it was face to face or voice to voice. I was humble and honest, non-argumentative and as open as I could be. I made no excuses for my behavior and took full responsibility for my actions. I asked honestly if there were a specific amend that could be made. There were a few suggested amends, and up until today, I have lived up to what was agreed.


To those I am closest to, particularly family, my amends continue daily. I have changed significantly, and am far more responsible in my behavior in the roles I play in their lives. With my wife (because many expect instant forgiveness) I can honestly say it was about 4 years before I earned back MOST of her trust. Actions, not words, are the acid test. I am a better person today than I was those years ago, but work in progress.


The reaction.


Most were pleased to hear that I realized I had problems and had taken action. They were quite prepared to let bygones be bygones. A few were skeptical, and to put it mildly, we will never be personally close.


I thought about, but tried to avoid "the except when to do so" part of this step. I probably could have rationalized many people to fit that category. There was only one person, and I did write a letter and burn it. If I had not taken full responsibility, particularly with the people I thought of often, I would not have got the improvement in peace of mind, self-esteem and better human relationships that this step gave me. I got rid of a lot of guilt and shame I had been holding on to.


The step was done to the best of my ability when I had dealt with the goals that had been set forth. Every name was addressed in an appropriate fashion.


Periodically something will surface, and is my regular practice, I deal with it promptly!


I took consequences and responsibility for my actions, and at the same time, I know a few people saw their personal well being improved!


Step 9 is a truly significant healing process when done at the proper time and in the right frame of mind and spiritual fitness.


Please note; I did not talk about amends to me. The program I learned does not talk to the need. As I have healed, I have regained me.


-- keithb

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