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The Big Twelve
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Step 9

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

NINTH STEP GUIDE

 

“We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

 

In the preceding step, Step Eight, we compiled a list of all people that we have harmed and also those people that we believed harmed us.  This list contains the names of people that we have harmed, amends for the things we have done and the exact character defects of the acquired false self which caused physical, mental, emotional or spiritual damage to those people.  After making the list, we then became willing to make these amends.

 

In the application of Step Nine, we shall need the following qualities:  good judgement, a careful sense of timing, courage and prudence.  Good judgement will suggest that we ought to reflect upon these amends for a time.  While we may be quite willing to reveal the very worst, we must be sure to remember that we cannot buy our own peace of mind at the expense of others.  We must be aware of when the time is right.  However, procrastination may allow us to pass up a fine chance to right a serious wrong.  Since we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience, we ask God that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be.  In making direct amends, let us not talk prudence while practicing evasion.

 

In looking at the list of people we have harmed, we will see that the making of direct amends can fall into four categories.  They are:

1.      People who ought to be dealt with as soon as possible, providing that we are reasonably confident that we can maintain our sobriety in doing so.

2.      People to whom we can make only a partial restitution, lest complete disclosures do them or others more harm than good.

3.      People and situations where action ought to be deferred.

4.      Others in which, by the very nature of the situation, we shall never be able to make direct personal contact.

 

In one category, we are dealing with people to whom we should make amends quickly.  These are people who are readily accessible.  Generally, they may include members of our family, employees or employers with whom we now work, creditors to whom we owe financial amends, friends and enemies.  It is harder to go to an enemy than it is to go to a friend, but we will find it much more beneficial to us.

 

The second category includes people to whom we can make only partial amends.  They may include our spouses, ex-partners, former business associates or friends.  Before we make a complete disclosure of the damage done, we must see if this would seriously harm the one to whom we are making amends or other people.  In situations which might implicate other people, we ask for their consent.

 

Thirdly, there will be cases in which action ought to be deferred.  It is seldom wise to approach an individual who still smarts from our injustice to him.  In some cases, the

NINTH STEP GUIDE (con’t.)

 

individuals may not be easy to locate.  However, we must make every effort to locate these people and make our amends.

 

The last category includes people to whom we shall never be able to make direct personal contact.  They may include situations with complete strangers or people who are now deceased.  Since we cannot reach the departed one, we can still make amends to their living relatives.  If this is impossible, we resort to God in prayer, asking Him to forgive us in connection with these people.

 

We will be confronted with many obstacles in doing this step.  Procrastination will pop up, telling us that the right time has not yet arrived.  We will often manufacture plausible excuses for dodging the making of direct amends.  Above all, we should be absolutely sure we are not delaying because we’re afraid.  Remember that in most cases we will require a lifetime to complete Step Nine.

 

Meditation and prayer are necessary in order to make amends.  Before making the amend, it should be preceded by prayer.  Conscious contact with God in the matter of making amends will not only bring about a more satisfactory result, but can aid us in determining those amends to avoid which might injure others.

 

The readiness to take the full consequences of our past acts, and to take responsibility for the well-being of others at the same time, is the very spirit of Step Nine.  Our behavior, more than our words, will convince those people to whom we are making direct amends.

 

If we are painstaking about making direct amends to those people we have harmed, we will be amazed before we are halfway through.  The promises will be fulfilled—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.  They will always materialize if we work for them.  The promises:

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.  No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.  That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.  We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.  Self-seeking will slip away.  Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.  Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave use.  We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.  We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

 

The purpose of writing the ninth step is to help us, in an orderly fashion, to “make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

 

1.      What does “making direct amends” mean to you?

 

NINTH STEP GUIDE (con’t)

 

2.      Why is it important to evaluate those amends which would injure the person to whom we are making direct amends and others involved?

 

3.      Why is prayer and meditation necessary before we make our direct amends?

 

4.      Using the list from Step Eight, put the people and the associated amends to be made in the following categories:

  1. people who ought to be dealt with as soon as possible
  2. people to whom we can make only partial amends
  3. people and situations where action ought to be deferred, and
  4. people whom we shall never be able to make direct personal contact with.

 

5.      In each of the above four categories, now examine each amend in the light of seeing whether a complete disclosure of the damage done will seriously harm the person to whom we are making amends or other people.  Identify these in the list above with an asterisk (*).

 

6.      Make a second list of the people and institutions to which financial amends are due.

 

7.      Now, referring to the list in 4 and 6, make a reasonable time estimate of when the direct amends can be completed.  Write this down on two lists.

 

8.      How are you going to get the strength and courage to make these direct amends?

 

9.      Why is Step Nine so important to recovery?

 

10.  How are you going to live Step Nine?

 

11.  Up to this point, which of the promises have been fulfilled for you in your life?

 

THE THOROUGHNESS OF STEP NINE IS DEPENDENT UPON YOU.  THE MAKING OF ALL DIRECT AMENDS WILL RELIEVE YOU FROM THE BONDAGE OF YOUR PAST.

When we make amends, we are sweeping our side of the street.

Work the steps, call your sponsor, just don't take that first drink, call before you fall, if you don't think about it, you'll drink about it.