A core principle behind the Ninth Step is cleaning up the wreckage of the past. We don't need any old baggage holding back our spiritual growth and personal dual recovery.
I learned that when I honestly do my part in making an amends, the results are then in God's hands. I am not responsible for people that refuse to accept my apology and I refuse to get involved if they just want to argue. Fortunately, this only happened with one person. So my sponsor suggested that I pray for that person's well-being and serenity and know that I did everything possible. Someday, when they are ready, they may remember my amends and find peace over the issue.
I planned my amends making efforts so that there was always a meeting to attend afterwards. I knew I would need some support whether it went really well or not. Knowing that there was a meeting within the hour gave me a lot of courage to move ahead.
I spent several sessions with my therapist before making amends to my dad. There were so many complex issues and so much personal history that I really needed to make sure I was emotionally strong and stable enough incase things didn't go all that well. I needed to remember that it says, "...except when to do so would injure them or others." Well, I am one of those "others". Fortunately, my dad was very happy to hear of my progress in dual recovery. I could tell that he didn't fully trust me yet as I'd made a lot of promises before about my drinking, but he was truly interested in my program of recovery, the day treatment center, and the recovery house where I'm living. He couldn't help but notice how much better I was so maybe in time he can learn to trust me again.
After the Ninth Step I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt free, even lighter than I did before. Guilt is a very heavy burden and I was glad to get rid of it.
It took me some time to get through Steps Eight and Nine. I finally ended up doing some mock amends or role playing with my therapist first before actually doing an amends. What I didn't want to do is go to make an amends and end up groveling and begging for forgiveness. I mean, I wanted and needed to maintain my dignity as a human being. My old pattern, because I was so afraid of rejection I guess, would have been to plead and beg that they don't abandon me.
It's ok to take people with you too. I mean, if I was going to make amends to some big guy who I was physically afraid of, I'd set things up to happen at a public place and take a friend or two.
My ex boss passed away while I was in treatment and his business was liquidated. I owed him an amends and some money and now he was dead. My sponsor suggested that I write out the amends just as if I was talking to my boss and read it aloud to her and my Higher Power--sort of like a little Fourth and Fifth Step. I found out where he was buried and went and read it at his grave too. He was an animal lover so I gave the money I owed him to the local Humane Society. Afterward, I felt like my business with him was finished and that somehow, he knew it too.
I think it's important for those of us with a dual disorder to make certain we are ready to do this process. I wouldn't recommend it if you were in the middle of changing your meds, or weren't pretty stable for awhile. I didn't get all of my amends made till I had nearly two years of recovery. I made my list and worked on it but a couple of the amends were potentially pretty triggering events. I was willing but just not ready till I was ready.
*Adapted from the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous®
*The Twelve Steps of AA are reprinted and adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt the Twelve Steps does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. AA is a program of recovery from alcoholism only - use of the Twelve Steps in connection with programs and activities that are patterned after AA, but that address other problems, does not imply otherwise. THE NINTH STEP OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS* 9. Made direct amends to such people where ever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.