The Invaluable Task of Making Amends
When I think about the ninth step, I think about god. I can’t help it! During the ninth step is when god came to me. It says in the Big Book that god comes to some slowly and to some all at once. I was blessed to have a white-light experience. It happened when I took a trip home, to make amends.
I’ll get to the good stuff soon, but first let me tell you a little about myself.
I was raised by a very loving and religious family. God was a huge part of my life, until I turned fourteen. Around that time I consciously turned my back on the belief system I was raised with. Why?, you ask. I met a boy.
He lived in a trailer park, rode a motorcycle, and had bad written all over him. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I mention this bad boy because he’s a huge part of my journey AND a huge part of my ninth step.
I drank for the first time when I was sixteen. I didn’t have that much talked about “I’ve arrived” feeling. I did drink three times as much as everyone else, though. I acted like an idiot, like really an idiot. I ended up locked in a basement, by myself. This was a theme of my drinking career, going overboard. I’d always drink more, do more, need more than everyone else. Back at sixteen though? Back then, we had fun.
By the time I was eighteen, that bad boy? He put me in the hospital. This was the first time I’d been betrayed by one of my solutions. I used going to the ER as an excuse to drink harder and more often. Somewhere around this time is when I crossed that invisible line. That line you can’t EVER uncross.
Now drinking wasn’t a luxury, but a necessity. I finally left the bad boy, but not for any positive reason. He got in the way of my drinking! I have to laugh when I look back on the absurdity of it. More and more people seemed to be getting in the way of my drinking. Soon, I ended up alone. I ended up physically, spiritually, and mentally alone. I’d managed to offend, manipulate, and push away everyone who loved me.
I had some sort of moment of clarity. I don’t know where it came from, but I decided I couldn’t do this anymore. I decided I needed help. For years, this was obvious to everyone else, but I remained oblivious. I reached out to my family and started the most awkward month of my life! The month of trying to get into treatment.
During this month, my family tiptoed around me. They tried their best not to set me off (I was VERY easy to set off). The night before I came to south Florida for treatment, I saw my father cry. This was the first time I’d ever seen him cry. He sat on my bed and held his face in his hands. He asked me, through tears, where I’d disappeared to. I’d never seen this much pain in his face. I’ve never seen as much pain on anyone’s face since. I’ll always remember that night.
The Path to Recovery
I didn’t get this recovery deal right away. I didn’t understand there was actually another way to live. I drank soon after leaving treatment. I struggled. Still, I had a sponsor and was starting to grow. Well, I wanted to grow, anyway.
I managed to stay sober for a few days and began to work the steps. Around the third step, I said my first honest prayer. I asked God to remove my obsession to drink. God didn’t remove this obsession right away, but he did send me some amazing people. These people were laughing, smiling, and talking about God!
I started to write my fourth step. Then, one day, I got a phone call. My teenage heartthrob bad boy had passed away. I was devastated. I was broken. I was ready to drink. I was faced with the choice we all face in early sobriety – to start drinking and go on to the bitter end, or to live and accept spiritual help. I chose to live. I started my fifth step and told another woman how sick I really was. She hugged me and told me she’d never been prouder of me.
I worked steps six and seven. My defects were revealed to me and to my sponsor. I asked God to remove them. Afterwards, I was ready to make my list of amends. Not only was I ready to make this list, but I was ready to find the willingness to face the people I’d hurt. I was ready to take ownership of the mistakes I made and the harm I caused.
Here we are at my ninth step, at my white-light experience.
When I Met God
I was sitting in the airport, about to go home and face the people I’d wronged. I was sitting there and saw a man standing at the check-in desk. He looked terrified. I don’t know what was going on with him, but it suddenly hit me. OTHER PEOPLE HAVE FEAR! Not only fear, but they have feelings. They have feelings that are just as important as my feelings!
This was a VERY new thought. Up to that moment, the entire world revolved around me and what I wanted., I became overwhelmed with compassion for this stranger. In that one moment, everything changed. I became aware of my surroundings and all the people there. I felt gratitude, love, and compassion for each and every one of them. I had a spiritual awakening.
I ran onto the plane, and into my family’s home in Massachusetts, on fire. I made amends with my father. I told him from this point forward I’d be the daughter he raised me to be. I saw my father cry for the second time that day. This time, though, it was for a completely different reason.
I was able to make a graveside amends to my bad boy. That experience was incredible. The only amends I could make to him was the one where I lived. I promised him that I’d never stay when I knew I should go. I haven’t. These promises I was making turned into the morals and values I use to live my life
When I sat down to make amends to my sister, not one thing I’d planned to say came out. I saw things differently, before I even opened my mouth. I realized that over our entire lives I’d taken all our family’s attention. Even though she’d always done the right thing, I’d taken all of her space. There wasn’t any room for her because of how big I’d made myself.
When I returned to Florida, I returned a different person. Since then, I’ve seen this happen to numerous different women. They leave to make amends and, in the process, they become women of integrity. They become women with enormous hearts, enormous amounts of courage.
My ninth step changed the entire world for me. I was awake, aware, and grateful. Now, two years later, I’m still making amends! I’m sure I’ll be making amends for the rest of my life., Fortunately, the worst thing I’ve done is sobriety is steal someone’s cupcake. I had to make amends for that too! It was pretty humbling.
Want to know the most beautiful part about sobriety? Every time I make a mistake, I get an opportunity to grow.