Keeping HopeAlive/Working the Steps: Step 9, Part 2

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

I have worked the Twelve Steps for most of my adult life because I am a codependent.  An on-going, recovering codependent.

There are specific spiritual practices I follow, all of which are intended to nurture my soul.     I don’t follow those spiritual practices to please any external authority and I don’t do them to check them off my to-do list.   I do them to keep myself centered and at peace.

My spiritual practices strengthen the inner connection I have with God, and at this point (Day 73) of sequestering at home during this pandemic, I have come to understand in a new way that working the Twelve Steps is a powerful way to Keep Hope Alive.

Today I return to writing about  the challenge of Step 9 with a new understanding about that Step that comes as a result of spending this time at home.  I also have a new understanding of what my teacher/sponsor said to me when I first took  Step 9 under her wise guidance.

“A superficial apology isn’t enough when you have hurt someone by your behavior or your words.  You don’t have to grovel, but in your inner being you must feel the weight of what you have done to another person.  You must be truly sorry, and that comes from seeing clearly what you did and how it affected that other person.”

There is a tendency in all of us humans to dread having to face ourselves clearly and honestly, but there is nothing as healing as being truly sorry for the hurt and harm you have inflicted on another human being, likely someone you have said you love.  “At times, you even have to feel disgusted by what you have done,” she said.

I have never forgotten that moment.  Being disgusted with myself  wasn’t what I really wanted to feel.   In fact, the word repelled me.  Looking back, I realize that what I needed to do was be willing to be willing to feel the full weight of how my behavior had harmed other.

When you realize the effect of what you have done on someone, it is natural to want to pull away from that acknowledgement.  It is typical of all of us to want to blame the other person (If you hadn’t done (or said) that, I wouldn’t have had to do what I did.)

It is common for us to minimize what we have done (It wasn’t that bad! or I didn’t mean it.)   It is common for us to deny that we did what we did or to try to move our load of guilt onto the back of someone else (He made me do that! or to ask, What was your  part in that?)  Worse, we may try to wiggle out of even an apology, not to mention an amends, by claiming that we were just kidding.  “Can’t you take a joke?” we may ask.

Owning up to our sins of omission and commission (what we failed to do out of neglect, apathy, innocence or outright rebellion) or (what we actually did with willful intent, malice, stupidity or ignorance) is hard enough.  Recognizing how we may have hurt another person takes regret to a whole new depth.

“It’s not enough just to apologize when making amends,” my sponsor told me.  “Real amends requires you to feel the abject sorrow of knowing that you could do such a thing to another human being. “

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