We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
This is another action step and requires a willingness to confront our issues. In order to avoid unintended harm, you may wish to review your proposed amends with your sponsor couple. For example, parents or children might be harmed by learning of compulsive behaviors. It takes courage to do this Step, good judgment, and a careful sense of timing.
Many of us begin our Ninth Step with our children. Depending on their maturity, we discuss our unhealthy behaviors only when it is clear they will not be harmed. We make further amends to our children by respecting them as individuals, by maintaining our own recovery, by striving to be healthy and happy adults ourselves.
You are cautioned not to confuse apologies with amends. Sometimes apologies are called for, but apologies are not amends. Amends are made by repairing damage when possible, and then acting differently. For example, you could apologize ten times for being late to a meeting, but this does not “amend” the issue. Being on time and changing your behavior becomes your amends.
As you repair the damage done to others, you are “healing” your own coupleship. You will find satisfaction in knowing you are doing all you can to pay off emotional, material, moral and spiritual debts.
In preparation for the actual making of the amends we suggest you:
- Read the Safety Guidelines
- Devote time to prayer or meditation.
- Think about what you want to say
- Be clear–possibly writing out your amends
- Create a comfortable, safe setting
In making the actual amends we suggest you:
- Keep it simple.
- Express a desire and/or ask permission: “I (we) need to admit the harm I (we) have done and take responsibility for my (our) actions. I (we) would like to make amends to you. Are you OK to receive an amends?”
The form of your amends may be something like this:
“I (We) want to make an amends about ________. I (We) ask for your forgiveness. I (We) plan to change my (our) behavior by ________.”
In making amends, you will also need to make amends to yourself and your partner. How do you make amends to yourselves? You develop new attitudes that reflect a willingness to love and to forgive yourselves. The format for making an individual or coupleship amends may be similar to other amends, but you may want to use this suggested format:
“I want to make an amends to our coupleship about ________. I would like you to forgive me for all the words that were said out of fear (thoughtlessness, inconsideration, anger, immaturity, self-righteousness, selfishness, etc.) and out of my own confusion. I ask for your forgiveness. I plan to change my behavior by ________.”
As a result of doing our amends we are developing ourselves as persons within a healthy relationship. We ask our Higher Powers for the courage and wisdom to face each new challenge in our coupleship. We take responsibility for our mistakes and learn from our experiences.
The final three Steps are about practicing what we learned in the first nine Steps.