Step 9 of all 12 step programs for addiction recovery calls for a complete making of amends to those who we have wronged through our behaviors while using.
Not something that many of us look forward to, but a valuable and ultimately very liberating step, and something that all in recovery are well advised to consider doing -whether following the 12 steps or not.
Making amends frees us from our past indiscretions. Frees us from guilt, regret and shame (all emotions that lead to relapse) and forces us to look deeply inwards – now and in future – so that we may never again cause such harm.
Give freely to get
Yet although the act of making thorough amends liberates, if you make amends for yourself you are not likely to get much out of the process. It’s kind of contradictory, but you only get if you give!
You do not make amends for yourself, you make amends because it’s the right thing to do and only for the person that you have harmed. You do not make amends seeking forgiveness, that will come or it won’t, you do it to heal a wound.
You may suffer
You do it knowing that you may suffer some consequences. People may be rightly angry with you, and your words and deeds may mean little to someone still hurting from your actions. You may suffer – it doesn’t matter – you do the best you can, you strive to create no additional harm, and when it’s done, you move on and you feel better.
Few remain unchanged after step 9
And ideally, you change your ways. The process is something not many of us would care to repeat, and so we strive to do better in our future interactions. We strive to recognize when we have done harm, and make things right immediately. We seek understanding and compassion, and try mightily to act with kindness. We don’t always, of course, we are still but human and weak, but not many can walk through step 9 not having learned a valuable lesson; and few are not changed for the better by the experience.
Step 9 is tough, you will suffer as you walk it, and you will get what is given, not what you would like. You do it only for them, to make things right, and yet ultimately, you gain so much.
Make amends well, it’s well worth it; your recovery is worth it.
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