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After I had completed my Step Eight I met my sponsor and read it out to him. There were about 40 names on it and I was certainly willing to make amends to them all, but straight away he started to reduce it.
Anybody that he felt would be hurt or discomforted by me going to them to make amends he removed from the list. This was in line with Step Nine which says, ‘Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.’
For example, there were some ex-girlfriends on the list. He said they would be getting on with their lives. Some could be married, others in new relationships, they did not need me coming back into their lives disturbing it.
This I now realise and appreciate is in line with Page 79 of the Big Book, where it says, ‘Usually, however, other people are involved. Therefore, we are not to be the hasty and foolish martyr who would needlessly sacrifice others to save himself from the alcoholic pit.’
I took my sponsor’s advice regarding making all my amends and I feel that everyone benefited from the fantastic advice he gave me.
For example, if I had followed my own ideas, I might have gone back to an ex-girlfriend, and said something like, “I have changed, I am sorry for what I did, and can we now get back together.”
I now appreciate that this would have been completely wrong, and not in line with the spiritual life I was trying to live.
My sponsor of course had already gone through the amend process, with the guidance of his sponsor. He also very kindly gave me advice, on what to say, when making the amend.
He said that when I called on someone I was to explain that I was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. I was to say something on the lines of AA being a spiritual process of recovery, and that part of that process, was to look back at my life, and make amends wherever I thought it appropriate, and in their case I felt it was.
I was then to ask them, “If they were able to accept my apology,” - a mere saying sorry was not enough.
Once I said, “Were they able to accept my apology,” I was to stay silent and listen to what they said, and then if they wanted to discuss things, do it in a calm, peaceful, non-critical manner.
Looking back at the amends I made, I found they were all a delight. Everybody I went to only wanted the best for me. They were glad to see that I was getting on with my life, and living it in a different, more spiritual way. I have found this to be the case with lads I have sponsored, and with others who have done the Steps with the guidance of a sponsor.
I also now appreciate, that this was all in line with Page 83 of the Big Book, where it says, ‘Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead. We must take the lead. A remorseful mumbling that we are sorry won’t fill the bill at all. We ought to sit down with the family and frankly analyze the past as we now see it, being very careful not to criticise them.’
Some of my amends were to family members, others to representatives of concerns or organisations that I’d harmed in the past.
Everyone I saw was a bit surprised, as this had never happened to any of them before. They were all helpful and kind, some of my amends were financial, and I was fortunate that I had the money to deal with these, and was very grateful that I was able to do so.
When making amends, we talked about AA, and my new way of living. Like myself, when I came to AA in 1996, none of them had any idea how it worked, they had no idea it was a spiritual Programme of recovery.
They all knew it was about stopping drinking, but like me had no idea that there were Steps, or that the point of AA was to help us find a connection to a power greater than ourselves, that could stop us drinking.
A few of the people I spoke to said that they knew a family member or friend, whom they felt could benefit by going to AA. One of them, head of a concern that I had to make amends to said, “This has restored my faith in human nature,” which I’d like to think was a tremendous compliment for AA, rather than me, for I was just doing what my sponsor advised.
When I went to see anyone, my sponsor advised me to do as it says on the ‘Just for Today’ card, ‘dress becomingly.’ He mentioned that at that moment I was the ‘face’ of AA, so whenever I made an amend, I tended to wear a suit, shirt and tie.
I found doing my amends, with my sponsor’s guidance, very uplifting. They were certainly all very humbling, and I now appreciate, all part of the ego deflating process of AA.
Of course the ‘promises’ mentioned on Pages 83 and 84 of the Big Book, were certainly a big attraction for doing the Steps. They are all very beautiful and have all come true in my life, but something greater than the ‘promises,’ is that by doing the Steps, a loving God/Higher Power has come into my life, a God of my own concept, one with whom I am able to have a loving and caring relationship.
Daily, I thank God for giving me the opportunity to come to AA, for all the people in it, and I pray that it happily and healthily spiritually grows and glows,DENNIS,