The famous Ninth Step: the point in the 12-Step Process where we actively make amends to those we hurt during the course of our substance abuse. Before we made the decision to enter recovery, many of us experienced a series of less than dignified moments. Whether we stole money, lashed out at a loved one or committed some other egregious act, most of us have at least one or two things for which we can stand to apologize. Many of us have problems apologizing for ordinary things, so making amends to others in recovery can be downright daunting. This process forces us to confront those who we were in recovery and, in a sense, relive some of the awful things we did when we were using. While this process is essential to our recovery, it can also be quite difficult Here are a few things to remember when we’re working the Ninth Step.
We have to be prepared for the fact that some of those we hurt may not be willing to forgive us. While most may be able to recognize the progress we’re making and our commitment to setting things right, some may be slow or flatout unwilling to accept our transforming. When we encounter this issue, we should exercise understanding, give the person their space and leave the lines of communication open.
It’s easy for us to sink into our heads and beat ourselves up for the things we did when we were using. The unfortunate reality is that others may be all too willing to help us. Whether they doubt our commitment or are still raw from something we did to them, we have to be ready for others’ skepticism and their often hurtful trips down memory lane. When someone tries to derail our efforts with insults or resentment, all we can do is try to convince them and ourselves that we’re not those people anymore.
This part of the process only works if there’s something behind it. If we make amends and simply continue our behavior, we are doing ourselves, the people who care about us and the entire process a disservice. The best way to “mean it” is to continue our recovery and help our loved ones out whenever it is in our power to do so.
The Ninth Step can be a scary and nauseating proposition, but if we take a look at the people we are now versus the people we were at the height of our substance abuse, it can also be empowering.