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Making Amends

Posted By Brian On August 23, 2010 @ 5:39 am In Step 9,The Life of Brian | No Comments

[1]During my active addiction I harmed many people. Even when my intentions were noble my actions were self-centered and self-seeking. “…we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate”, as Alcoholics Anonymous so clearly states on page 62. The guilt and the shame of my actions blocked me from accessing the Higher Power I needed to maintain my sobriety. Step 9 asks that I humble myself in the eyes of God and my fellows and set matters straight.

Making an amends is more than saying, “I’m sorry.” I have said that many times but it was never followed by any action on my part and nothing ever changed. I burdened my loved ones with the harm I had done them. I needed to do what I could to clear the air between us. I can’t undo what I have done but I can admit my wrongs and try to set matters straight. I can’t change how people may feel but I can take responsibility for what I have done.

After speaking with my sponsor about the amends I follow a simple process:

  1. I tell the person I had harmed that I would like to speak to them and ask if they would meet with me.
  2. I tell the person that I am changing the way I live my life. I don’t usually say that I am trying to live a spiritual life but that may be desirable in some situations.
  3. I tell them that an important part of this change is to try and set right the wrongs I have done.
  4. I recount the ways I have harmed them.
  5. I ask them if I have left anything out and then shut up. I don’t argue or challenge their recollection of the events. I allow them to say what they need to say. I can only free myself from the guilt and shame by allowing them to unburden themselves.
  6. I thank them for sharing their feelings with me. They may have been wanting to tell me these things for a long time but felt they couldn’t or that I wouldn’t listen. It may have been difficult for them to finally trust me enough to share these thoughts.
  7. I ask them how I can set these matters straight. What amends can I make? Practicing the spiritual principles of recovery changes how I act and react to life. The demonstration of these principles is how I put these amends into action. Some people may make unreasonable demands. I am nobody’s doormat just because I’m in recovery and taking responsibility for the harm I’ve done. I must be committed, though, to setting things straight and do what I am able.

There are some amends that I have yet to make and some that I may never be able to make. I have a willingness to make amends to all I have harmed and will be ready if and when the opportunity presents itself.

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