Steps Eight and Nine focus on personal relationships. These Steps include a look backward to discover, a fresh attempt to repair and a use of knowledge to cultivate.
Step Eight reads, “Made a list of all persons we harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” This task of learning to live in peace and partnership with all is an ongoing adventure. Though a look backward took place with the moral inventory in Step Four, this look backward includes greater review of people directly impacted by choices that were made and actions that were taken. The spiritual principle that accompanies this Step is that of brotherly love. One must resist thinking about the wrongs of others and give extraordinary attention to personal behavior, returning to Scripture often: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34).
One priest in recovery shares his experience: “When I calmly reflected on all my personal relationships, I could really see more clearly times when I could have made better choices. It’s not easy. There is nothing easy about it. I had to face times when I caused harm to others – in blatant ways and also in subtle ways – and I had to realize that I had other choices than the ones I made. I had to forgive myself – and that was hard.”
After spending time looking backward, it is time to make fresh attempts to repair some of the brokenness. This is the beginning of true fellowship with others. The spiritual principles of justice and forgiveness are active in Step Nine, and good judgment, a careful sense of timing, courage and prudence are necessary. Step Nine reads, “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” Many are surprised that even the most severe and most justified critics will often meet the apologizer more than halfway. It is wise to remember that even with the individuals who have been most seriously affected, being forthright and generous is the best approach.
“The challenge of recovery is to ask for forgiveness and make amends – it is to move from bitterness to joyful giving,” recalls a priest who shares his reaction to the Steps.
A Sister in recovery recollects, “The emotional aspects of my addiction destroyed some key relationships in my life. Through the wisdom of Step Nine and the earlier ones, God leads me into a life of broadened hope, faith and love, broadened enough that I am willing to do whatever it takes to make amends and restore as many of those relationships as I can. God gives me the grace.”
Written by Guest House Staff Writer
AA is not affiliated or allied with any sect, denomination, or specific religious belief. When AA speaks of God, they mean each individual’s own conception of God.