Thursday, September 27, 2012

Al-Anon’s Step 9

Al-Anon’s Step 9: Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

I started this entry 3 weeks ago and I am still procrastinating with it, which tells me that this is still a hard step for me.  I even stopped this to go start next month’s Step 10 entry because I had some good ideas about it in the shower. If you look at my Step 9 tag you can see all of the mini entries that I got off track with.

(Photo by Michael Faes.)
OK, so when I first came to Al-Anon this was on my list of the two scariest steps. Going over my old Al Anon meeting notebooks I realized I don't actually have a lot of notes on Step 9, for all I agonized over it. I do have a note that says, "The point of Step 9 is to plan and act rationally." Thinking about this, I realized that this step asks us to go and make nice with some of the very people who press our buttons or who have hurt us very badly. No wonder it seems so scary!

The scariest thing for me to do was to consider making amends with my alcoholic mother.  She was physically and verbally abusive to me while I was growing up and to some point I am still intimidated by her. Sorting out guilt was a big one for me with this step. My sponsor helped me with this. She helped me see that I was doing the best that I could within the confines of the relationship and I need not go any further until the right time.

Using what I learned in Step 8, I knew that I shouldn't jump to make amends unless I was willing. Now, I also add, “ready” along with “willing”. In my notes I wrote about how this step is about removing obstacles and being quiet helps with this step.

In the Step 9 chapter of Paths to Recovery the writer mentions breaking down the Step 8 list into groups of people we were more or less willing to take action with. This also helped me a lot. I could prioritize and feel like I was doing something to work the step, but then put other issues aside until I was surer about what to do. Also as suggested in the chapter, I could correct harms immediately simply just by changing my behavior towards someone on my list. This helped a lot in my relationship with my boyfriend. I still, in some ways, feel I haven’t “officially” worked this step when it comes to him, but my sponsor assures me that my slow but steady behavioral changes are what is important.

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