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“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
The 9th step in AA is about making amends. You must do so regardless of the consequences.
Amends could end a relationship. You could go to jail, face a significant fine, or suffer other serious consequences. It doesn’t matter.
To complete this step, you must be willing to admit to and face the consequences of your past.
Many AA participants find that dividing the list created in the eighth step helps in their approach to step 9.
These categories are:
Generally, AA participants should aim to make full amends as early as possible. But only as long as it causes no additional harm.
Completing step 9 enables AA participants to build bridges to new relationships as sober people. Many find that their guilt and shame no longer prevent them from a full recovery after they’ve moved through step 9.
Step 9 includes a set of 12 Promises:
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”
There are different types of amends, including:
Direct amends are face-to-face. They require you to take personal responsibility for your actions and reconcile with the person you’ve wronged.
Indirect amends are necessary when contacting the person you wronged is impossible or would cause harm. In some cases, writing a letter or sending an email is appropriate. Sometimes no contact is better.
Living amends require demonstrating your lifestyle changes and discarding of destructive behaviors. With living amends, you show that you have learned from your mistakes and will make better choices in the future.
Your loved ones deserve living amends from you, whether they are alive or if they have passed. This is one of the best tools you have for making amends with a deceased loved one.
Financial amends require compensation to anyone harmed financially by someone’s alcoholism. Perhaps you stole money from a loved one when you weren’t sober. Maybe you crashed their vehicle while driving drunk. The goal is to financially make right what you did wrong.
It might be easy for you to recognize who you’ve hurt with your drinking. But figuring out how to make amends can be a different matter. The entire process can feel overwhelming.
When possible, and when it won’t cause additional harm, apologize face-to-face. If you can’t do it face-to-face, use a handwritten letter instead of an email or a text message.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when making amends:
In addition to apologizing, acknowledge your wrongdoing. This shows you understand what you did that hurt the other person. It shows that you are taking responsibility for your behavior.
Your loved ones must know that you are apologizing for what you did and the harm you caused. It’s not about feeling sorry that you were caught or that the person is unhappy with you.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings before can be useful. A bit of preparation goes a long way in difficult situations.
Once you’ve made your apology and acknowledged your wrongdoing, listen to the person and validate their feelings. This shows you understand how you hurt them and are willing to listen to their opinions and thoughts.
This can feel uncomfortable, but it’s important to not respond defensively. You know what you did and you’ve forgiven yourself. The best thing you can do is feel empathy for the person you hurt.
After listening and validating, ask if there is anything you can do to right the wrong.
For step 9 to be successful, you must be willing to make things right.
Keep in mind, not everyone will have your well-being in mind. You might be healing and growing in sobriety, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is too.
Suppose a response to your apology is manipulative or hurtful. In that case, it’s okay to tell the person you are unable to fulfill their request. Thank them for the opportunity to take responsibility for your mistake and move on.
Finally, remember that making amends might not go as you planned. Chances are you fantasized about the process of amends making in step 8.
Now that you’re putting your intentions into action, it might look different than you expected. That’s okay. You aren’t making amends to get a specific reaction from someone.
Step 9 can feel complicated and overwhelming. The Three R’s were created to simplify things.
These concepts help you keep the amends-making process in perspective and include:
With restoration, you aim to bring something back to what it formerly was. If your alcoholism caused you to damage something, your goal is to restore it as much as possible.
With resolution, you aim to find a solution or resolution to the problems caused by alcoholism. You likely have past experiences that disturb you. In this step, you look for answers and solutions and finally lay these issues to rest.
With restitution, you aim to return anything taken from its rightful owner back to that owner.
There are several questions you can ask yourself to help you work through step 9, including:
Step 9 is an important part of addiction recovery because it provides an opportunity to take action and apologize to those you’ve harmed.
This step offers peace of mind and relief.
Most AA participants feel liberated from their regrets after completing this step. Step 9 allows you to accept the consequences of your past actions and take responsibility for the well-being of yourself and others moving forward.
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