Although I live in Florida, I went to treatment and lived in a halfway house in Georgia for seven months. The first eight steps were completed with my first sponsor while I was still there, and since my time living in Georgia was coming to a close, the timing aligned for me to back home once I reached Step 9 to make direct amends. I met my second sponsor and we ran through the steps again pretty quickly.
Working Step 9 with him and having the list from Step 4, made it easier to get a better idea of who I would be making amends to.
Some sponsors suggest breaking the list out into categories of people you’re able to immediately make amends to, people who will be more difficult, and those you feel you will never be able to make amends to because of how you feel about them. However, there is a difference between those you can’t and those you shouldn’t make amends to.
Making amends is not just about the list – you’re doing it for your own inner peace. Sometimes making amends will cause more harm than good, in which case you discuss each instance with your sponsor beforehand to make sure you aren’t jeopardizing anyone’s livelihood, including your own.
For example, I couldn’t make amends to my high school principal. When I first started Step 9, I had too much built up anger towards him. After working through it with my sponsor, I came to a place where I realized it was more beneficial for me to reach out and at least try to make the amends in order to let go of the ill will I was harboring towards him and the situations we went through. I reached out to him via email after I became willing to let go of the animosity towards him, but he ignored it. To this day, I still haven’t received a response, which I am ok with because I reached a point spiritually to where I can accept him for being where he’s at in his life. Not everyone is going to see the changes you make when working the program, but you know you’ve changed.
Not everyone you go to will be as gracious to hear from you. Just because you’re working a program and apologizing doesn’t mean someone has to accept it. To be honest, I thought everyone I apologized to would accept it and be happy, but I was wrong. The fact that I tried and was willing to reach out when I was called to do so is what matters. Step 9 is something most people will never completely finish because situations could always arise that you need to make amends for no matter how big or small they might be.