Step 8: Made a list of all people we have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
Amends: compensate or make up for a wrongdoing.
Making an amends is NOT simply saying I’m sorry. It is the process of attempting to correct the mistake. Sometimes a simply apology can correct a wrong doing, but most often it requires some sort of compensable action. Imagine dropping your mothers’s coffee cup. It shatters. This is now a broken item. You have broken your mother’s cup. It will not be corrected with an apology. There is a required process to restore the situation back to its original state.
YOU: Mom, I am so sorry. I accidentally broke your cup. What can I do to fix it?
MOM: It’s no big deal dear.
YOU: No Mom, I want to make it right. How can I fix it?
MOM: Well it doesn’t look like it can be fixed. It’s been shattered.
YOU: Where did you get it?
MOM: I got it at Target. They have a lot of them. I think it was $7.00 or something.
YOU: No problem. When I go out today I will stop at Target and get you a new one.
MOM: Oh thank you sweetheart. That is so nice.
This might seem like a gesture of kindness, and at many levels it is. But, it is truly a requirement for Addicts to restore their mistakes and ultimately clean the gutters between the energy for their Higher Power and themselves. Each broken cup has affected their Self Esteem negatively, caused destruction in their relationships with money, love, family, and community. It has altered their perspective of themselves, fostered guilt and left the Addict feeling less than okay. The amount of wreckage from their past has directly affected their eyesight of “now” and left them with defective character traits to manage their current world. The process of making amends for their entire past hurts and mistakes will restore their vision in a way that they could never imagine. It is a miracle how powerful this process truly changes everything.
They need to follow a few simple guidelines and get busy cleaning up their side of the street. Many times when an Addict sits with someone and stresses their need to right an old wrong their counterpart does the same, but not always. We don’t ever go to the afflicted and justify our behavior (even if we KNOW it was justified at some level) we don’t discuss THEIR issues, mistakes or part in the behavior. We simply discuss OUR part and go with a sincere desire to make amends and attempt to correct the damage.
What is our agenda: To be free. To be free of our past and owe NO one anything. We are also learning. We are learning to clean up our world and keep it that way. We are developing new relational patterns with our community and developing our instincts. We will satiate our broken instincts as time goes by. They will eventually NOT rule us. They will NOT keep us up at night or drive us into negative behavior. This is a change that will happen TO us. It is not ours to accomplish. We simply need to follow the process and allow the changing to occur. Our mantra of action:
1. Read a little
2. Write a little
3. Pray a little
4. Help a little
Over time we will be changed a LOT!
8-9 Step Big Book Work
1. Place each person or institution harmed on an individual index card
2. Write the harms in brief note on the back of each card
3. Organize each Harm into a category
a. Direct Amends with friends/family/institutions - pain or harms conducted to past or current friendly community (pg. 77 last paragraph - pg. 78 2nd paragraph)
b. Direct Amends with an enemy - pains or harms conducted to someone that dislikes you or you dislike (pg. 77 2nd paragraph)
c. Sexual Amends - sexual betrayal or pains or harm conducted to past lovers (pg. pg. 80 last paragraph - pg. 82)
d. Criminal Amends - pains or harms that are or have been illegal (pg. 78 last paragraph - pg. 80 4th paragraph)
e. Financial Amend - pains or harms that have to do with money (pg. 78 3rd paragraph)
f. Living Amends - pains or harms that have been conducted to individual/institution that you don’t have any access to (pg. 83 3rd paragraph)
4. Read the entire content from page 76 - 84 and understand the process for both making the list and correcting the issues. Each subsection has supportive direction for making those types of amends.
5. Begin with the family first and work your way out to friends and then coworkers and then continue to the rest of the world
6. After you make an amends with an individual or institution tear up the card and watch the list become less and less
Making amends is going to be an ongoing experience. After a few weeks of correcting the past move the individual into Step 10. They will continue to clean up their past, but need to move into the next phase at that point to maintain the momentum. It is very important that they follow step by step instructions with each correction. They should discuss the amends with their Sponsor or you before they conduct the act so they have the strategy understood. The experience will be uncomfortable at first, but over time they will become quite enthusiastic. The results are powerful and unexpected and the final process of tearing up the last card will be a spiritual break through. They will literally owe nothing to their world. It will feel like a massive weight has been removed from their chest. A boulder that has been blocking them from joy and clarity will disappear. They will know peace, freedom and happiness in an entirely new manner. If you read the promises on the bottom of pg. 83 to the 2nd paragraph of pg. 84 it will describe what is about to occur:
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. 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 hard 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 us. 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.
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.
Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
What would it feel like to no one anything? If you could be completely debt free would that affect your fear? How much do you owe? Have you ever completely corrected every wrong you have done? Why is it so important to Addicts to correct their mistakes. Will fixing some but no all mistakes feel better? Worse? The same? If the person corrects their past would this have an impact on how they act in the future?