Friday, March 29, 2013

Step 9: Amends

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

I've worked several 9th steps in various programs.  Out of all of the different ways of making amends, I find the face-to-face amends to be the most profound and healing.  They are super scary to do, but the outcomes have without a doubt been worth acting through those fears.

In the process of preparing for my face-to-face amends, I've always written a script with my sponsor before meeting live with the person whom I owe the amends to.  Usually, this has simply been a written script in the following format:

  • When __________  [I am specific about the time period, so the person knows exactly what I am referring to]
  • I ________________[action I did that harmed this person].
  • Since then, I've come to realize that I ______________ [state what exactly I am responsible for].
  • I'm sorry I did that.
  • Faced with this today, my intention is to ___________ [how do I plan to behave differently?].

A lot of emotions tend to arise in this process.  I always arrive early to make my amends, so I am able to center myself before the person arrives whom I'm making the amends to.  It can be especially challenging to sit with uncomfortable feelings while I am waiting.

One creative process that has been helpful to me is to write out the dialogue like a comic and pay special attention to the facial expressions.  Doing any kind of art that allows me to express my emotions is super helpful in allowing me to tolerate the emotion.  Oftentimes, if I'm noticing an urge to run away from my feelings and check out with any addictive substance or behavior, if I write or draw that emotion in whatever way I can, I am much more capable of tolerating the feeling, at least for the duration of the writing or creative activity.  Here is an example of a script I drew out while waiting to make one of my amends:

What feelings come up for you when you think of making amends?  What will you draw or doodle to express those emotions?

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