by Marcello C-B
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
I love the first passage to Step Nine in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 83 of this chapter. Good judgment, a careful sense of timing, courage, and prudence—these are the qualities we shall need when we take Step Nine. When I started this journey into recovery I had no idea or concept of courage or what qualities I even had in me at all or what it really meant to me. Like many of the words in the Big Book Alcoholic Anonymous, the idea of apologizing to people I had wronged was just an enigma. It was not part of my agenda. “Why would I do that?” I said to myself. But I also didn’t know about the steps or if they would even work for a special case like myself.
I always thought I would just put out what they wanted to hear or keep the raw stuff out because it simply ain’t any of their business. I was just not cooperating till I heard the phrase “Surrender to win.” I didn’t quite understand that and plus I didn’t want anybody to know my deepest fears, secrets and faults. I felt embarrassed about what I had been through with people I had wronged.
My sponsor said he would help me as long as I was honest with him
This time around I decided that if I wanted freedom from myself and the alcohol I needed to go into the steps fully committed. Not how I had before, half-assed like everything in my life in the past. Especially considering the people I hold dear to me, as well as the future people to come into my life. So I started each step to the best of my ability knowing that the first step was the only one I was going to be able to do one hundred percent, right.
I made a conscious decision to do the rest of the steps and give it the best Marcello has to offer, giving my all to my recovery. That being said I started to put in one hundred percent right off the bat. Once I fully committed myself to the first step it wasn’t hard to follow through with the rest of them. I continued to do right by not cheating people or lying to them. Especially myself, of course.
My sponsor had said he would help me as long as I was honest with him. I prayed to a power greater than myself because I remembered landing at Parnassus hospital, not once but twice in just a couple of months. I wandered through the streets of San Francisco drunk, high and broken and all in my head all the time. I just couldn’t think of going back to that vicious cycle all over again. It was a very painful experience that I dare not to repeat again.
I started with a commitment to give myself fully to God and the 12 Steps with my sponsor, with an open mind. Of course I also looked back at how my life had spiraled down from when I started using at age nine. I discovered drugs and went into a using frenzy, and my problems with my family and friends started to get bigger. My addiction drove me to do unimaginable things for a substance that had controlled me till I finally surrendered September 17, 2019. So when my sponsor said to me I’ll wait for you till you’re done testing, he meant it. To me that meant a lot.
Telling him bits and pieces of my life while maintaining the truth in each story, I started to build trust with him that I never thought I could have with anybody. All my past sponsors had either used what I told them to their advantage in order to try to get with girls I knew or talked to other people about what I had told them. My faith in sponsors was shaken and the trust was not there for anybody even if they seemed legit to other people, it just wasn’t there for me, period. I didn’t want to feel vulnerable on all fronts.
After this sponsor shared his story with me, I began to open up more to him. Doing the steps one by one allowed me to see the real me, a person that is used to doing what’s right and who is accountable, truthful and well-mannered.
After I followed through with the first eight steps, my horizons opened up like a flower in full bloom and I was ready to proceed with Step Nine. I began to make direct amends to the people I had harmed when I could without putting myself or them in harm’s way. I also wrote letters because there were a few people that I knew it was not possible to go near.
This has been an out-of-body experience for me to be able to learn more about my capabilities as a “retired” alcoholic. Now I am able to walk up to people I had stolen from or hurt, face them and tell them the truth. I pay back places I stole from.
I wrote letters because there were a few people I knew it was not possible to go near
Having truthful conversations with people today is like waking up from the nightmare I used to waste my life in. I could have done far more by staying on the course of truthfulness and righteousness from the beginning. Today I am grateful to have an opportunity to live life the way it was intended for me. I don’t put myself in situations where I need to lie or hide from anyone. I’m not going to say my life is perfect, but it sure is progressing in the right direction.
Step Nine to me has been a true eye-opener. I have made many wrongs into rights. If I stay committed to this way of life the sky is the limit, the way my aunt tells me. I’m grateful for her words. First and foremost I know I owe my family an amends for my past behavior, no matter what. I’m not afraid to look them in the eye and tell them the truth like I once couldn’t do. For me Step Nine is a work in progress. There are days I bump into people I have wronged in the past. It gives me a perfect opportunity to make an amends on the spot without any type of rehearsal of what I am going to say so I can look good.
One thing I can say about this step is it has cleared the way for future relationships with friends, family, and girlfriends without any type of hidden agenda. The wreckage has been cleared. Today I continue in my journey where I have 11 months clean and sober. I continue to work the steps and go to meetings. I have a sponsor and a sponsee that depend on me just like I depend on them. Thank you God for putting the right people in my life to guide me in the path to righteousness. The only way we keep what we have is by giving it away.