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Should I say “I’m sorry” during the Ninth Step?

tcr! · Jun 6, 2017 at 7:30 pm

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The short answer: it depends.

The long answer…

When I was drinking or just “not drinking”, I said I’m sorry to those closest to me until I was blue in the face. And those closest would often get red in the face because there was a good chance that whatever I’d done I’d do again tomorrow. My apologies had come to mean nothing, had become hollow as I felt on the inside.

Therefore I needed to spend some quality time preparing before I rushed off and said “I’m sorry” to everyone on my Eighth Step list. I needed to pray and meditate on my course of actions.

The steps teach us again and again that god needs to be part of our life. Half the steps mention God and that’s no accident. Seeking guidance before each amend is part of affirming our Third Step decision. Before each one I needed to talk about them with my sponsor, and ask for direction, for clarity from god.

As the Big Book says:

The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it.

It was important to me when making my amends to own my behavior. Acknowledge what harm I had done, think and feel about how I hurt the other person. To me this step isn’t about purging my guilt just so I don’t feel bad anymore. My whole life that’s almost always why I’d said I’m sorry. I felt shitty and I didn’t want to feel that way. Being truly sorry, I needed that compassion.

And a funny thing happened while working the steps preceding Nine, while coming to find God, coming to find me… My spirit awakened and I finally and honestly experienced sorrow for the wreckage I’d caused, felt regret for things that had happened years before. Feeling sincere remorse was a godsend. Really. Coming from someone who just didn’t care, who took what I wanted, it was nothing short of a miracle.

I also offered to correct or fix any damage and let the other know I would do my best not repeat my mistakes. Continuing to engage in hurtful behaviors, that stuff had to go. I’m not really making amends if I do. I’m also not doing my part of Step Seven if I keep acting like an asshole.

Anyways, my point with many of these written thoughts is to clarify that there is not strict formula for working the steps. It bugs me when people say in meetings “we make amends, we don’t apologize” or that whole “this is how you do it” kinda thing. Sure, that might be how it worked for them but that doesn’t mean that’s how it works for all of us. The Ninth Step says “made direct amends” and there’s not a one size fits all shoe for making them.

The sentence preceding How It Works says:

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery.

The steps are the program to me, all the rest is opinion. I’m not saying that there isn’t wisdom in the rest of the book, there most certainly is. But the way we work those steps should be between us, God, and our sponsor.

Pro-tip: Use “I” during meetings and not “you.” Recovery is about sharing our own experience, strength, and hope.

#alcoholism #lifechoices #twelvesteps

jimi hindrance experience jimi hindrance experience · Jun 7, 2017 at 12:44 am

My sponsor said, “If you feel like you’ve skimped on the steps, you have.”

tcr! tcr! · Jun 12, 2017 at 9:01 am

I regularly didn’t pay attention to myself. Working the steps is one of those times where I definitely should.

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Anonymous · Jun 7, 2017 at 8:11 am

I always liked the saying that an apology is simply a notice that an amend is coming.

tcr! tcr! · Jun 7, 2017 at 8:58 am

That’s awesome.

JillybeanTX · Jun 7, 2017 at 10:31 am

Great answer! I have never heard that one but I like it!

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dub-squared · Jun 7, 2017 at 11:27 am

Amend doesn’t mean to apologize, it means to change. You don’t apologize the constitution, you amend it. That is how I was taught and it helped.

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kickaha2 · Jun 7, 2017 at 11:48 am

I was told and have heard more than a few times that it’s best to explain the situation, and then ask for the person’s forgiveness. This puts the result, or power of the action in their hands. I then have to accept the results.

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5timechamps · Jun 7, 2017 at 1:22 pm

I’m in the “I was wrong. How can I make it right?” camp, although I think abolishing “sorry” from our vocabulary is a bit much.
I very much appreciated a couple thoughts towards the end of that writing. The idea that the program of AA is the 12 steps gets overlooked quite a bit in my opinion. Many people say they’ve tried AA, i.e. attended meetings. In my experience, attending meetings was not trying AA. I spent months attending meetings before I worked the steps and I didn’t get sober. In fact, I often stopped at a liquor store on the way home from meetings. No human power can relieve my alcoholism. Simply being in the room with those who are recovering is not sufficient for me. I also agree that my job in AA is to share my experience, how I did it, and not tell others how they should do it.

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oxygenvoyage · Jun 7, 2017 at 2:08 pm

For me my ninth steps usually consist of me doing something uncomfortably nice and selfless for/with the person and opening up a dialogue with them about my character defects and how I was wrong. No “sorry” passes my lips.

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Anonymous · Jun 7, 2017 at 4:01 pm

If alcoholism is a disease then why should I apologize for what I’ve done. Plus I think making amends isn’t sincere and the real reason people do a ninth step is for self preservation.

tcr! tcr! · Jun 8, 2017 at 6:59 am

Interesting point of view :)

Anonymous · Jun 8, 2017 at 2:42 pm

God you are a jerkoff.

Anonymous · Jun 8, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Wow. That’s harsh.

Anonymous · Jun 8, 2017 at 3:40 pm

You are. Tell a person asking a question about the 9th step that garbage? You should be ashamed of yourself. You’re a troll of the worst order, sir. A misogynistic, miserable man who isn’t here to offer anything but nonsense.

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