A.A. Oldtimers…On the Nineth Step
A.A. Grapevine, July 1945, Vol. 2 No. 2
Editorial: On the 9th Step...
"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others."
Like others of the Steps, Number Nine is closely related to Number Three --"to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understood Him." If we have accomplished this step to any measurable degree, we have attained at least a small measure of humility and a realization of our dependence on Him.
Having prepared a list of all people we have harmed and brought ourselves to the point where we are willing to make amends to them, our Ninth Step is one calling for positive action. There is a world of difference between being willing to do a thing and actually doing it. How many times in the pre-A.A. state have we said "I am sorry, I won't do it again" and felt that that constituted complete amends.
A sincere apology, with a true explanation to the person harmed, of what we believe to be the reason for our past actions can quite frequently readjust personal relations --but the A.A. realizes that this cannot take care of the ones we have really hurt and invariably these are the ones we should and do love most.
Most of us had at least a few years of real pathological drinking behind us when we first learned of the Twelve Steps. Those terrible years are the ones that become repulsive to us as we progress in our new-found life program for order and happiness--years in which our every action was influenced by alcoholic thinking, with all its implications. It naturally follows that whatever our state in life may be, those close to us bore the brunt of our outrageous behaviour. How can one make amends to a dear wife, son or daughter or parent who through no fault of their own truly suffered physically and financially and more important, mentally, the humiliation and embarrassment of going through life with a drunkard? A simple "I am sorry; it won't happen again" is not enough. It is not enough for us and it is not enough for the aggrieved person.
Direct amends, by all means, is a must, in restoring physical property to the rightful owner, paying debts willingly within our ability to do so and retracting the lie that hurt a reputation; but the real amends are made in scrutinizing our day-in and day-out conduct and keeping that conduct "on the beam." The loved ones whom we have hurt don't want their "pound of flesh." Whether they are still in daily contact with us or not, amends are best made to them by restoring the love and confidence and respect they once had for us by the action of right living. With that thought clearly in our minds that "first drink" is an improbability, even an impossibility and the well-rounded, good life we all yearn for becomes readily visible to us.
Forest Hills, New York