Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
I remember writing on my 4th step fear list “9th step”. I was not frightened, but terrified, about having to (gasp!) see these people I had harmed face- to-face and make amends. The thought of looking someone in the eye, someone that I screwed over in some way or another, and telling them what I did was almost counter-intuitive to me. My whole life was about avoiding being responsible for my actions. Blame others, the weather, the computer, the dog. To go back (they won’t remember me, any way) and do what?? They won’t care, they probably forgot all about what happened…and was it really that bad anyway?
Backpedaling, minimizing, dismissing…all the things that we as alcoholics tend to practice well. At least I did.
So as I first stood on this step, I realized that I had gone too far to bail. There was no way I would cower and go back into my old ways. It would be nerve wracking, yes, but I was at the point where I needed to make a stand and do what I needed to do to get better. And so I plunged in.
As I read the step, the “wherever possible” wording is very important to me. It means that I can’t shirk my responsibility in finding and sitting down with the people that I caused harm to. It also tells me that I can’t force it. So if someone says they aren’t willing to hear me, or if they are unwilling to make time, I then back off. Or in some cases, I write a letter or email and leave it be. But I always know that if I were to run into someone on the street, that I am willing to make the amend to them.
It’s all about willingness (Step 8)
Most of my amends are work-related. But I have some family and friends who I need to pay a visit to. I know they have forgiven me and have been incredibly supportive of me, but it is only right that I still make my amends. And for those who haven’t gotten there yet, all I can say is how freeing it is. Every time I finish another amend, I feel closer to God. I feel Him brushing away another thing that blocks me from the Sunlight of the Spirit. And how free do I want to be?
So I continue to make my amends, to make sure that I am not only repairing and owning what I have done, but also making sure I don’t do those things again.
I look forward to the day when these are done…and make sure by working Step 10 that I don’t have a new list soon…