The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, "We have a list of all persons we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make amends. Now we go out to our fellows and repair the damage done in our past. We attempt to sweep away the debris that has accumulated out of our effort to live on self will and run the show ourselves. If we haven't the will to do so, we ask until it comes (a ninth step prayer). Remember, it was agreed upon at the beginning that we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol." It was difficult for me to find the person to share my Fourth Step with and to share the exact nature of my wrongs with God. However, I did, and in doing so I found a sense of relief through the power of forgiveness. Coming to Step Nine of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous was somewhat daunting, yet easier, as I then had the experience of God on my side. The Fifth Step brought a sense of relief - the beginning of a serene life. For the first time since I was a small boy I felt the presence of God in my life. I knew then that sobriety by itself was not enough, that I desired to be recovered. I knew that the solution was and is a vital spiritual experience and having a relationship with God in whom I trust. Therefore, I had plenty of motivation and desire to adopt the humility necessary to make amends to the people I had harmed - Step Nine.
I learned through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous not to consider any harm that had been done to me. Besides, it was much easier to do so at that point as I was praying for and forgiving those on my list. In the Big Book it states, "Under no condition do we criticize such a person or argue. Simply we tell them that we will never get over our drinking until we do our utmost to straighten out the past. We are there to sweep off our side of the street realizing that nothing worthwhile can be accomplished until we do so, never trying to tell them what they must do."
This is how I approached the Ninth Step. I began with my immediate family. Life is funny -things don't always occur in what is perceived and assumed as the proper sequence. My father had passed before I had any consciousness that I owed him an amends. I went to his grave and grieved over his death and our life together. My mother was having serious cognitive problems and, although I was able to make a verbal amends to her, the amends came as she was sinking deeper into her illness and when I was actually able to care for her. My sister, who was shocked in my attempt to make amends to her, could only say, "Really? Really?!" And on it went. To those I could not see and to those that did not want to see me I sent a sincere and complete letter and prayed for the best for them. It became easier as I moved through the list.
In the Fifth Step I began to feel serenity and, now with the tasks of the Ninth Step complete, I have extricated myself through the grace of God from the past - I was free, maybe for the first time in my entire life.
Written by Armand
Edited by Caitlin Alexandra