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Step 9: Forgiveness

Study of the Twelve Steps

Dateline: 08/19/98

Making amends may seem like a bitter pill to swallow, but for those serious about recovery it can be good medicine for the spirit and soul.

Step 9
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 9 is another one of the 12 steps, that initially appears most difficult, but the rewards of putting this principle into practice can be immense. The spiritual principle involved is that of forgiveness, not only from others, but forgiveness of self, which can bring healing to both parties.

After completing Step 8 -- made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all -- the next logical step is to make those amends if possible, and the suggestion is to do so directly to those who have been harmed. By making direct amends to the person harmed the temptation to skirt the issue because of embarrassment or pain is avoided.

Simple but not easy!

But those making the amends find many times that the person to whom they have harmed is more than willing to accept those amends happily -- and a healing process begins not only in the relationship, but in each individual. This is not always the case, however. Sometimes the injured party is not willing to forgive and forget. Regardless, spiritual progress for those in recovery depends upon doing their part right and making direct amends.

This step does carry a condition -- except when to do so would injure them or others. If the act of making amends will open old wounds or create new harm, then making direct amends should be avoided. The benefit of making amends to the recovering person does not outweigh the need to do no more harm.

Below are some personal stories of how Step 9 works submitted by visitors to the bulletin board here at the About.com Alcoholism site as our study of the 12 Traditions and 12 Steps continues:

More about Step 9

Not an Apology
"An amend is not an apology. It is a clear and purposeful act designed to clear up a problem from the past."

"I gladly bear my soul of my wrong-doing so that the other person doesn't have to carry around any excess garbage."

Staying Honest
"I am glad we have this step, It keeps us honest with ourselves and others."

Facing the Truth
"I keep on working it by staying sober, that is also a form of an amend."

Index of 12 Steps and Traditions Study

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