Step Nine brought me a lot of fear and anxiety. During our active addiction, we left a trail of destruction and hurt along the way. When we get to Step Nine it is time to resolve that destruction, where and when we can. Some are eager to make amends and just want to get it over with. However, there is a reason the steps are in the order they are, and it takes time and work to get to Step Nine. You have your list of people or places you have harmed, and you’ll sit with your sponsor and go over each one to decide if it will be a direct amends, an indirect amends, or a living amends.
A direct amends I made was for borrowing money from multiple people. I reached out to them, told my story and where I was at now, and said how sorry I was. I offered them their money back – some took it, others did not. Some of them were satisfied enough with the proof of my lifestyle and attitude. Now mind you I did not do these all at once, but rather over a period of time. I can honestly tell you I did not have a bad experience with any of them. You will be surprised by how many people are simply happy to see you smiling and healthy, and that is enough for them.
One of the hardest amends for me was the one with my mom. Our relationship was always tough, and I was hard on her, to say the least. I put her through the wringer, and as I grew older it is one thing I regret the most. She now has Alzheimer’s disease and no longer can communicate. I truly struggled with this one because I was unsure how to make this amends and it brought me so much guilt. Direct amends was not an option. For this amends, it would be an indirect and living amends. An indirect amend is when things cannot be fixed or undone so you find ways to repair them by volunteering and helping others. My therapist told me to volunteer at an Alzheimer’s home, which I struggle with immensely. A living amends is when you show others you have changed your lifestyle by being consistent and showing up. You are proving to them you have turned your life around. It was my goal for Mom to see me clean and sober. Even if she could not realize it, I knew that I would, and it was important to me to show her.
Making the amends take time – it will not be done overnight. You may wait to see a person and decide then it is the perfect time to make amends. For others, you will not go to them directly. You will change your lifestyle and live each day caring for others and being selfless instead of selfish. First, you must acknowledge what you have done, then take responsibility for it. It will bring you humility, forgiveness, self- empowerment, and self-love.
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….
Ninth Step Promises Big Book pages 83 & 84