Step 8 got us “set” in the starting blocks; Step 9 requires us to run the race! Go!–warning this race runs through an obstacle course!
We will experience pain in this step as the “stepper” as will those that feel they have already been “stepped on.” Taking the step requires we revisit those times and people that have been hurt by our actions; first as we prepare to make amends by listing them for Step 8 and then when we face them to make the actual amends required in Step 9.
Step 9 must be “stepped” to find recovery for several reasons. It serves as a foundational building block to reestablish trust in the relationships our selfish actions have broken. This represents moving towards a world of renewed and new relationships and away from the isolation broken relationships ushers in. This necessarily “cleans our closet” of a lot of guilt and shame from a time where we first broke relationships, moving us towards healing. It calls us to put on our “grown up clothes” and take responsibility for our actions. It brings closure to open wounds we created. We benefit from the process as we apply salve with our admission of wrong and request forgiveness. When played through; it brings healing to all involved.
Step 9 acknowledges that there will be situations where true amends are not possible because the damage exceeds the ability to repay. It also acknowledges that in some cases amends to one person creates more victims. Relational infidelities sometimes fall in this category-but sometimes as with STD (sexually transmitted diseases) dangers and the like these are painful but important needed amends to protect the innocent.
As mentioned in the Step 8 blog, we should expect the exercise of Step 9 to loop us and the ones we have hurt back to issues of forgiveness blogged about in Step 5. Some will not accept your amends but you will have the knowledge and guilt shedding reality to know they were offered. This process must unfold as part of our need to forgive ourselves for past mistakes. If we refuse to forgive ourselves, we block our own recovery. Many lives are wasted as people pummel themselves for actions that even the Creator of the universe will apply forgiveness to if only asked.
Many who choose to not acknowledge a Creator God, struggle with this issue of self-forgiveness. Yet, they must find a way to come to terms with their choices and their consequences where amends are made to the degree possible but they must also accept that their damage may have created consequences for which others will not forgive or that they or the offender simply cannot absorb. Denial is not an option. The maturity and the “taking out the trash” required for a life in recovery does not allow it.
Yes, I know. Easier said than done, but the saying does not bring the healing of recovery!