Click The Images To Go To Page Indicated
From "Barefoot" Bill L.
Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Something that you may not have noticed about the Eighth Step is that the word ALL is mentioned twice.
At this point in our work we will need to refer back to our Fourth Step inventories. From the lists of names on our inventories we are able to compile our Eighth Step amends list. We examine our sheets for the people we have harmed by our conduct and whom we owe amends. On page 76 in the third paragraph, the "Big Book" states:
We make a separate list of names even though they're already listed in our inventories. By having a separate list of names, we're able to see more clearly those people we will go to, to make our amends.
The 12 & 12 suggests we redouble the efforts we made while writing inventory when making our Eighth Step list. On page 77 of the 12 & 12, Bill writes:
Aside from the list of names of those we owe amends, there's a second part to this step that we don't want to overlook. Some people we will be willing to go to right away. With others, we'll have to pray for the willingness to do this. The book suggests we pray daily for the willingness until it comes. In the meantime, we can begin to make those amends that we are ALREADY willing to do. We have found when we begin the restitution process in conjunction with praying for the willingness to do the seemingly more difficult amends, we start to ALSO become willing to make the amends that we never thought we'd be willing to face. We become more willing when we commence to get results from making other amends. When making the Eighth Step list, it is sometimes suggested to break the names into two categories: amends I am willing to make NOW, and amends I am NOT willing to make now. Also, the word "amend" has a second definition besides "setting right the wrong". To amend a document is to make a permanent change to it. So in making amends, not only are we to "right all such matters to the best of our ability", but we must ALSO change and stop doing the behavior that brought about the harm to begin with. You cannot make amends for things you still do. We can't call it OLD behavior if we are STILL doing it. We must move away from our old habit of apologizing for something but then doing it again. Our changed actions will speak louder than our words. The following Headings can be put on a form to fill out and will help you put together your Eighth Step list. Please pay attention to each of the headings:
Let's move on to Step Nine.
Step 9. - Made direct amends to such people, wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
On the fourth paragraph on page 76, the "Big Book" provides us with some insight as to how to approach some of those to whom we owe amends. Page 76, paragraph four:
In the last sentence of this paragraph, the "Big Book" clearly states our purpose for living. It tells us why we are here -- to serve God and the people about us.
In Step Seven it says: "I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows." Now in Step Nine it says: "At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. BUT THIS IS NOT AN END IN ITSELF. Our REAL purpose is to FIT OURSELVES to be of MAXIMUM service to God and the people about us." So our making amends is part of how God brings fulfillment to what we're praying for in Step 7!
The book continues by asking us to let our actions, rather than our words, demonstrate to others that we have changed. Walking the walk is more important than just talking the talk. Starting with line four of page 77, the book states:
We don't use this as an excuse for shying away from the subject of God. When it will serve any good purpose, we are willing to announce our convictions with tact and common sense."
One of the most difficult amends to make is to someone we genuinely do not like. But, whether we like them or not, we MUST proceed. The text continues:
So the book gives us an important attitude we should have when going to make amends to someone we do not like. Our attitude needs to have a helpful and forgiving spirit, and in a few sentences it says that our manner needs to be calm, frank, and open.
In the next paragraph, the text even provides us with instructions on what to say and what NOT to say:
In nine cases out of ten the unexpected happens. (That's 90% of the time.) Sometimes the man we are calling upon admits his own fault, so feuds of years' standing melt away in an hour. RARELY do we fail to make satisfactory progress. Our former enemies sometimes praise what we are doing and wish us well. Occasionally, they will offer assistance. It should NOT matter, however, if someone does throw us out of his office. We have made our demonstration, done our part. It's water over the dam."
The "Big Book" explains what to do about our debts. We may not like the sacrifice required to make good on our bills, but sacrifice we must. The process forces us to rely on God for guidance, which takes us out of self-will, and into God's Will. Under God's direction, we find it MUCH easier to make restitution than we EVER thought possible. In the middle of page 78, the book states:
Next the book instructs us again to ask God for guidance. This reliance upon God is ESSENTIAL if we are to outgrow the fears that have separated us from our true selves, our Creator, and others. The book continues:
Next is an example of how to proceed when OTHER people may be affected. Here, EXTREME caution needs to be taken:
"We thought he ought to be willing to do that if necessary, but if he were in jail he could provide nothing for either family. We suggested he write his first wife admitting his faults and asking forgiveness. He did, and also sent a small amount of money. He told her what he would try to do in the future. He said he was perfectly willing to go to jail is she insisted. Of course she did not, and the whole situation has long since been adjusted."
The "Big Book" suggests we ask others for help before we make some of our more difficult amends. We need direction, preferably from someone who understands and has experienced the inventory and restitution process. We MUST make SURE we do not create further harm to others as we clean up OUR side of the street. At the top of page 80, notice the directions of what to do, and please notice the five specific points the book now makes:
So it says that we need to (1) ask the people who will be affected (like a business partner or our family) if it is OK with them that we make this amend, (2) talked with our support group and others that may have made a similar amend, (3) pray to ask God to help us decide what to do, and (4) the amend still seems like it is the right thing to do, we then (5) MUST not balk at going through with setting right the wrong.
Next is a story of a man who used this formula before proceeding to make amends:
He felt that he had done a wrong he could not possibly make right. If he opened that old affair, he was afraid it would destroy the reputation of his partner, disgrace his family and take away his means of livelihood. What right had he to involve those dependent upon him? How could he possibly make a public statement exonerating his rival?
After consulting with his wife and partner he came to the conclusion that it was better to take those risks than to stand before his Creator guilty of such ruinous slander. (This next line is important.) He saw that he HAD to place the outcome in God's hands or he would soon start drinking again, and all would be lost anyhow. He attended church for the first time in many years. After the sermon, he quietly got up and made an explanation. His action met widespread approval, and today he is one of the most trusted citizens of his town. This all happened years ago."
The next page or so deals with domestic troubles like sex outside of a relationship. Starting with the second line from the bottom of page 80, we find:
Whatever the situation, we usually HAVE to do something about it. If we are sure our wife does not know, should we tell her? Not always, we think. If she knows in a general way that we have been wild, should we tell her in detail? Undoubtedly we should admit our fault. She may insist on knowing all the particulars. She will want to know WHO the woman is and WHERE she is. We feel we ought to say to her that we have NO right to involve another person. We are sorry for what we have done and, God willing, it shall NOT be repeated. MORE than that we CANNOT do; we have NO right to go further. Though there may be justifiable exceptions, and though we wish to lay down no rule of any sort, we have often found this the best course to take.
Our design for living is not a one-way street. It is as good for the wife as for the husband. If we can forget, so can she. It is BETTER, however, that one does NOT needlessly name a person upon whom she can vent jealousy."
In the first paragraph on page 82, we are yet again instructed to ask God for guidance as we make good on our past misdeeds:
This is an example of how we must be tactful and considerate of others as we make our amends. Nobody said it would be easy - it just has to be done. Remember to ALWAYS use your Higher Power as your CONSTANT Guide. By following His direction, the most difficult situations can have a positive outcome.
In the next several paragraphs, the "Big Book" authors state quite emphatically that stopping drinking is ONLY a BEGINNING. We MUST take additional action if we are to recover from alcoholism:
The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. (What a perfect analogy.) Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil. We feel a man is UNTHINKING when he says that sobriety is enough. He is like the farmer who came up out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined. To his wife, he remarked, "Don't see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain't it grand the wind stopped blowin'?"
So just not drinking is NOT enough. The "Big Book" makes that VERY clear. The reconstruction that will need to take place in most homes may at times seem difficult. But, once again, we rely heavily on prayer and guidance from our Higher Power, sponsor and support group. At the top of page 83, our text states:
The spiritual life is NOT a theory. We HAVE to LIVE it (Again, the book is saying that our program needs to be more than some mental idea. It MUST be a motivating and growing positive way of life. The book continues). Unless one's family expresses a desire to live upon spiritual principles we think we ought NOT to urge them. We should NOT talk incessantly to them about spiritual matters. They will change in time. Our BEHAVIOR will convince them MORE than our words. (One of Dr. Bob's most popular quotes is, "Carry the message, and if you must - use words." Walking the walk is so much more important than just talking the talk. The book continues.) We must remember that ten or twenty years of drunkenness would make a skeptic out of anyone."
Here we're told that in order to achieve the vital psychic change, we HAVE to LIVE the A.A. program. So, we don't just TAKE the Steps. We practice these principles on a DAILY basis. The first nine Steps, or 3/4 of the program, basically deal with the past. Next week we will be providing you with the information for AA's way of life, or AA's way of spiritual growth one day at a time, through the process of Step Ten, Eleven, and Twelve.
The next paragraph on page 83 gives us directions on what to do if we can't make amends to someone face-to-face. Notice that they saved this for last:
Please notice that this last paragraph mentions writing an honest letter to people we cannot see. This ALSO includes if the person we harmed or hated has passed away. A letter written and read to a substitute listener can bring about much relief and freedom from guilt and remorse we never thought we could get rid of.
The "Big Book" concludes the Ninth Step with another list of results. Starting at the bottom of page 83, it tells us precisely what is going to happen once we commence to clear away the wreckage of our past. It describes these results as promises. The "Big Book" is filled with promises. These are just a few more of them:
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly (as in a spiritual experience), sometimes slowly (as in a spiritual awakening). They will ALWAYS materialize IF we work for them."
What a message of hope! It is almost beyond comprehension that all of these wonderful events WILL occur IF we just make our amends to those whom we have harmed. But, they WILL happen - that's a guarantee.
Please turn to page 155. We would like to give you an example of someone who could not stay sober until he became willing to complete all his amends. This man is our Akron co-founder, Dr. Bob. Dr. Bob had been involved with MOST of AA's solution for alcoholism but he still drank every day because he refused to work with others and he refused to make amends for harms done. After being introduced to Bill Wilson, and relapsing one last time, he finally decided to work the ENTIRE program, instead of HIS program. With this new motivation, he accomplished making all his amends quickly and never drank again. He also started working with other alcoholics to the point where Bill Wilson referred to him as "the Prince of the Twelve-Steppers". We can read about Dr. Bob's Ninth Step in the second paragraph on page 155:
Being intrigued, however, he invited our friend to his home. Some time later, and just as he thought he was getting control of his liquor situation, he went on a roaring bender. For him, this was the spree that ended all sprees. He saw that he would HAVE to face his problems squarely that God might give him mastery.
One morning he took the bull by the horns and set out to tell those he feared what his trouble had been. He found himself surprisingly well received, and learned that many knew of his drinking. Stepping into his car, he made the rounds of people he had hurt. He trembled as he went about, for this might mean ruin, particularly to a person in his line of business.
At midnight he came home exhausted, but very happy. He has not had a drink since. As we shall see, he now means a great deal to his community, and the major liabilities of thirty years of hard drinking have been repaired in four."
Continue to Working Steps 10 and 11
Return to Working The Steps Index
As in so many things, especially with we alcoholics, our History is our Greatest Asset!.. We each arrived at the doors of AA with an intensive and lengthy "History of Things That Do Not Work" .. Today, In AA and In Recovery, Our History has added an intensive and lengthy "History of Things That DO Work!!" and We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it!!
KEEP COMING BACK!
On the Web Feb 28, 2003 in the Spirit of Cooperation
Three mighty important things, Pardn'r, LOVE And PEACE and SOBRIETY