This week’s HTYH is the beginning of a Step-Nine discussion: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” On page 82 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous Bill Wilson said: The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his or her way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept his/her home in turmoil. We feel people are unthinking when they say that sobriety is enough. We are like the farmer who came out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined. To his wife he remarked, “Don’t see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain’t it grand the wind stopped blowing?
Sgt. Bill S. in his book, On the Military Firing Line in the Alcoholism Treatment Program, said: Newcomers are at first prone to regard restoration in terms only of material things. If we borrowed money and didn’t repay it, we owe financial amends, but that’s not the only type of amends we need to make. We also need to make moral restitution and although that can be traumatic, it’s rewarding. When we make moral restitution it’s the beginning of our spiritual growth… In making amends, we take the first step toward forgiving others by making restitution for our part in the confrontation or conflict. Self-forgiveness is also essential to feeling good, and if we have a large burden of resentment, fear, remorse, guilt and shame it can block us from that good feeling…
Bill Wilson in his book Twelve-Steps and Twelve Traditions said: Good judgment, a careful sense of timing, courage, and prudence-these are the qualities we shall need to begin Step Nine. After we have made a list of the people we have harmed, have reflected carefully upon each instance, and have tried to possess ourselves of the right attitude in which to proceed, we will see that the making of direct amends divides those we should approach into several classes. There will be those who ought to be dealt with just as soon as we become reasonably confident that we can maintain our sobriety. There will be those to whom we can make only partial restitution, lest complete disclosures do them or others more harm than good. There will be other cases where action ought to be deferred, and still others in which by the very nature of the situation we shall never be able to make direct personal contact at all. Most of us begin making certain kinds of direct amends from the day we join Alcoholics Anonymous. The moment we tell our families we are really going to try the program, the process has begun. In this area there are seldom any questions of timing or caution. We want to come in the door shouting the good news. After coming from our first meeting, or perhaps after we have finished reading the book “Alcoholics Anonymous,” we usually want to sit down with some member of the family and readily admit the damage we have done by our drinking. Almost always we want to go further and admit other defects that have made us hard to live with. This will be a very different occasion, and in sharp contrast with those hangover mornings when we altered between reviling ourselves and blaming the family (and everyone else) for our troubles. At this first sitting, it is necessary only that we make a general admission of our defects. It may be unwise at this stage to rehash certain harrowing episodes. Good judgment will suggest that we ought to take our time. While we may be quite willing to reveal the very worst, we must be sure to remember that we cannot buy our peace of mind at the expense of others.
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