Step 9 - Confronting the Past
Step 9 Made direct amends to such people
wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
With Step 9, the goal is to apologize, sincerely,
to every one we've hurt. It's a way of continuing to take responsibility
for our actions. Taking full responsibility for the damage we've done is a necessary step if we are truly
to let go of the past and move on to our new, empowered future.
Step 9 is also one of the most difficult to
actually do. It's one thing to make a list of the people we've hurt as we
did in Step 8 but quite another to go to those people in person or in
writing, and actually admit what we've done and work to make it right
with an apology and, if warranted, restitution.
"Whenever possible" isn't an excuse
It's so tempting to skimp on this Step! We want
to believe that, for example, our children were too young to be affected
by our addiction, or that we had been successful in hiding our problem at
work. Of course, if we're honest with ourselves, we'll see that this just
isn't true. Even if the people we harmed didn't actually realize we were
addicted, we still did cause problems and we need to make amends.
It's also tempting to use the 'wherever possible'
as a way out. There are times when we can't apologize the person may
be dead or we may not know how to find them. A close look, however, will
usually reveal these instances are few and far between. If we truly don't
know how to reach someone, or even how to find out there's not much we can
do but stay willing in case they surface. But staying willing is a must.
There are a few cases where making amends can be
skipped and that's when an apology on our part would harm the person
we're apologizing to or someone else. Note, however, that this is not
about if such an apology would hurt us only someone else. The classic
example of this involves love affairs you know, if a confession of
regret would let a wronged spouse know about a liaison that they had been
that sort of thing.
These instances need to be approached with
caution and, preferably, in consultation with a sponsor or other advisor
that can help us be honest. Usually we'll find there is a way it just
takes more work.
Sooner is better than later
Finally, although the Step doesn't spell out a
time frame, it's important we get on with this chore as quickly as we can.
Even if we don't relapse behind a delay, we get stuck if we don't do Step
9. On a practical level, this usually means getting the bulk of our amends
done as soon as possible. Family, friends, co-workers and bosses can be
approached in a relatively short period of time.
Once we've handled these, we may have a small
collection of amends that end up on hold for one reason or another. For
example, with the advice and consent of my sponsor, I postponed returning
the money I'd siphoned from the Girl Scouts for a couple of years. Then my
income settled down, my bills were caught up and I send the national
office a check with a brief explanation and apology.
Confronting and making amends for our past is a
powerful action, propelling us toward the full promises of the Program.
Love, peace and