Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
After making the list in step 8 it is now time to go out into the world and do our best to straighten out the past. This is the step that suggests that we make “direct amends” to those we have harmed. It is interesting that in the AA big book, when referring to the ninth step, it states, “remember we agreed we were willing to go to any length for victory over alcohol”. So if you are ever asked “what is any length?” it is step 9!
What does direct amends mean, exactly? Can I send a letter? Call them on the phone?
Once again this is where a sponsor comes in handy. Every situation is unique. However there are some simple guidelines. If the person can be met face to face and it would not cause more harm to anyone (other than you) then this would be best. If they live a great distance and you are unable to travel, and the amends cannot be delayed, then a phone call would be better than a letter. In other words the more direct the better.
What do I say to the person I caused harm to? Do I just say I am sorry?
You could start by stating your purpose for making these amends. Then state the harm you caused them and express regret for this. Let them know that, God willing, you will never repeat this behavior. Then ask them what you can do to make it right, follow this by the willingness to do so. At this point, being prepared for a possibly unpleasant response from them would be next. Their reaction is not the basis of this step.
In making these amends we do not correct, or argue any point they may make. Even if the harm they have caused us may be large, we must put their part aside. This is about obtaining our own freedom from alcohol, drugs, or from whatever obsession you are suffering.
What about my ex. ? Our marriage got real bad and it wasn’t all my fault, why should I apologize to them?
Going to an ex husband or wife who has been harmed by your alcoholism is an important amends to make. Often these people do not understand addiction or alcoholism, yet have tried to hang in there. Of course every situation is unique. Sometimes there are past relationships where the best thing to do for the other person is to leave them alone. Why go back to someone who has healed from the wounds we inflicted and bring up a painful past when our showing up may disrupt their lives. Once again, sponsors can help sort these difficult situations out.