“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
1. Now we continue with Part 3 of R.A.'s Step Presentation. We will go through all the pages devoted to Step Nine in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. As we have suggested before, this is best done with an R.A. Sponsor.
2. As we did in Part 1 of R.A.'s Step Presentation, you will read a paragraph and then pause. I will then comment about what you just read.
3. This is done to help explain the pioneers' original intent, as R.A. understands it. This can counter the years of confusion that may have distorted the pioneers' message of hope, sanity, and recovery.
4. Please remember that R.A. doesn't want to convince you of anything. R.A.'s experience has been that, if you read this material, you will come to the same conclusions that we have. R.A. wants to endorse your conclusions, not convince you of ours.
5. I will now share R.A.'s understanding and experience. Please keep in mind that the Twelve Steps are a specific process that produces a specific result. It is requested that you save all questions until the end.
6. As we've shared before, the Big Book was written, after years of recovery, to share what the pioneers had done that had already worked for them.
7. It was not written as a theoretical exercise about what the pioneers might one day possibly do to eventually recover. Instead they detailed their experience; what had already worked for them.
8. So, as we read and share about the Ninth Step from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, please pay attention to these highlights as the pioneers' experience, and the "clear-cut directions" they were intended to be.
9. When we look at what they wrote as time-tested, proven, workable directions, and real-life examples, it puts this step and this whole program in a different light.
10. The Ninth Step in the Big Book gives "clear-cut directions" for what to do about the list you made in the Eighth Step.
11. When we procrastinate on this step, we delay getting the result that the program promises.
12. For example, someone can't reasonably expect to get the result of following a recipe if they have only put in eight of the twelve ingredients. It's unreasonable to expect the full results unless you follow all of the recipe's directions.
13. As with the other steps, Step Nine does NOT have to be done perfectly.
14. If, at some point, you realize that there is somebody you have harmed or resented, and you did not realize this when you made your Eighth Step list, you can make amends to him or her as part of your Tenth Step.
15. If at some point, you become willing to make any amends that you were not willing to make when you did your Eighth Step, you can make these amends as part of your Tenth Step.
16. If there is somebody you harmed today, you can also make amends to him or her as part of your Tenth Step.
17. So the Tenth Step covers all three situations.
18. The Tenth Step helps you to make up for any deficiencies and/or lack of willingness you may have had in the past. It also takes care of anything new that comes up. You cannot do this program perfectly, and more importantly, you don't have to do it perfectly. You just need to pray to be willing.
19. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 35, in the first paragraph, starting with the fourth line from the top of this paragraph, the pioneers start sharing their experience with the Ninth Step, and their "clear-cut directions" for the Ninth Step. They say:
"You subjected yourself to a drastic self-appraisal. Now you are to go out to your fellows and repair the damage you did in the past. You are to sweep away the debris which has accumulated out of your effort to live on self-will and run the show yourself. If you haven't the will to do this, ask until it comes. Remember you agreed at the beginning you would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol."
20. In the Eighth Step we shared part of Dr. Bob's story. He had spent two and a half years in program, going to meetings, doing everything those good people told him to do, reading the Good Book, affiliating with a church, and he still went home and got drunk almost every night. Not just once in a while, but almost every night.
21. It wasn't until a month after he met Bill Wilson, after more than two and a half years in the program, that he finally became willing to go to any lengths for victory over alcohol.
22. After one last bender, he was desperate enough to go through with the actions needed to make amends. That was the day he took his last drink. It's also important to note that he immediately started to intensively work with others.
23. Sometimes, people don't know what to say or how to say it when they are making amends. This is true even with the "clear-cut directions" in the Big Book. Therefore, please remember that you don't have to do this step on your own. It wasn't designed that way.
24. R.A. suggests that you talk about each one of the amends on your list with at least one other person. This person may be your sponsor and/or a friend who is familiar with R.A.'s program.
25. Describe what you did. Describe what the other person did. Describe what their reactions were. Describe who else was involved. Then ask your sponsor or friend for their opinion.
26. You don't have to accept their opinions as valid. Their opinions are simply that, opinions. They should never try to tell you what to do.
27. However, if several people offer you the same opinion, an opinion you don't like, you might then pray for clarity about whether or not they may be correct. You should also pray for the willingness to take any necessary actions.
28. Remember that you are actually doing them a favor by asking for their opinion. Not only will asking them questions increase your own understanding of the process, but having to come up with the answers to your questions, will increase their understanding too.
29. It is possible to get compulsive about making amends. Left to ourselves, many of us would want to pay back ten thousand dollars for each dollar taken. And because we'd feel we had to pay back ten thousand to one, we might never pay back the one dollar we actually owe.
30. Very often, it's hard for someone to clearly see whom he or she actually needs to make amends to. In other words, they sometimes don't see the forest for the trees.
31. One of R.A.'s members shares:
"I tried to play referee in a fight between my husband and his family.
"I got both sides angry with me.
"I had tried to make amends to my husband's family several times in the past but it hadn't produced any results. I didn't realize that I also needed to make amends to my husband.
"He was also hurt by my actions. The amends to his family didn't have an effect because they weren't the only ones injured by my behavior."
32. That's why we need the input of other people. Please don't try to do this step by relying upon yourself. You don't have to. You have the R.A. fellowship. You have a network; a support system.
33. The pioneers did not design the Ninth Step to be done by yourself, or with just a sponsor, a friend, or the other people in R.A. They did not design this step so you would have to rely on yourself, your judgment, or your answers. The pioneers intended for you to do this step in conscious contact with your Higher Power.
34. The pioneers make it clear that our ultimate purpose, our real purpose in making amends, is to "fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us."
35. The Eleventh Step says: "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God…"
36. We ask what God's will is in each situation. We ask for direction and guidance. We ask. That's a vital part of this process. Asking, not only people, but also especially asking our Higher Power for direction and guidance.
37. To repeat what was read a few moments ago, "Remember you agreed at the beginning you would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol."
38. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 35, in the second paragraph, the pioneers share their experience and their "clear-cut directions." They say:
"You probably still have some misgivings. We can help you dispel them. As you look over the list of business acquaintances and friends you have hurt, you will feel diffident about going to some of them on a spiritual basis. Let us reassure you. To some people you need not, and probably should not emphasize the spiritual feature on your first approach. You might prejudice them. At the moment you are trying to put your own life in order. But this is not an end in itself. Your real purpose is to fit yourself to be of maximum service to God and the people about you. It is seldom wise to approach an individual, who still smarts from your injustice to him, and announce that you have given your life to God. In the prize ring, this would be called leading with the chin. Why lay yourself open to being branded a fanatic or a religious bore? You may kill a future opportunity to carry a beneficial message. But he is sure to be impressed with a sincere desire to set right the wrong. He is going to be more interested in your demonstration of good will than in your talk of spiritual discoveries."
39. Many people have "some misgivings" about the Ninth Step. It frightens a lot of people because they misunderstand it. They hesitate to approach their "acquaintances and friends" because they think they have to talk about the program's "spiritual basis."
40. However, the pioneers share another one of their "clear-cut directions." They say that when you are approaching people to make amends, "you need not, and probably should not emphasize the spiritual feature on your first approach. You might prejudice them."
41. As we just read, the pioneers clearly say, "At the moment you are trying to put your own life in order. But this is not an end in itself. Your real purpose is to fit yourself to be of maximum service to God and the people about you."
42. The amends process is designed to get us out of ourselves, to start correcting the harm our character defects have caused others. We know that we won't be able to stop hurting others or ourselves without making our amends.
43. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 35, in the third paragraph, the pioneers share more of their experience and their "clear-cut directions." They say:
"Don't use this advice as an excuse for shying away from the subject of God. When it will serve any good purpose, you should be willing to announce your convictions with tact and common sense. The question of how to approach the man you have hated will arise. It may be he has done you more harm than you have done him and, though you may have acquired a better attitude toward him, you are still not too keen about admitting your faults. Nevertheless, with a person you dislike, we advise you to take the bit in your teeth. He is an ideal subject upon which to practice your new principles. Remember that he, like yourself, is sick spiritually. Go to him in a helpful and forgiving spirit. Be sure to confess your former ill feeling and expressing your regret of it."
44. Another reason some people hesitate to make amends was discussed at great length in the Eighth Step. We don't have to like someone in order to make amends to him or her.
45. It's also important to recognize that we don't have to forgive anyone in order to go to him or her and express regret for some incident. Forgiving someone may help us to become WILLING to make our amends. Forgiving is an ideal to eventually reach. However, it is not necessary to the process of making amends.
46. Many people also hesitate to make some of their amends because they think they are going to have to start a relationship with the person they are making amends to. That's simply not true.
47. We are not going through this process for the person we are making amends to. We are doing it for ourselves. We are doing it to save our own lives. We are doing it for the results that the pioneers promise will happen for us when we do this.
48. Therefore, even though we don't have to like someone, forgive someone, or want them back in our lives, the pioneers tell us to "Remember that he, like yourself, is sick spiritually." The pioneers then tell us to "Go to him in a helpful and forgiving spirit."
49. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 35, in the fourth paragraph, the pioneers continue sharing their "clear-cut directions." They say:
"Under no condition should you criticize such a person or be drawn into an argument with him. Simply tell him that you realize you will never get over drinking until you have done your utmost to straighten out the past. You are there to sweep off your side of the street, realizing that nothing worth while can be accomplished until you do so. Never try to tell him what he should do. Don't discuss his faults. Stick to your own. If your manner is calm, frank, and open, you will be gratified with the result."
50. Based on what was just read, R.A. is going to give an example of how NOT to make amends: "Hey John, remember when you were so nasty to me? Well, because you were nasty to me, I stole $10 from your wallet when you weren't looking. I don't really regret it, but I have to go through this process and…" That's an example of how NOT to do it.
51. Now we are going to give an example of how the same situation can be dealt with according to the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" in the Big Book: "John, a number of years ago, I really wasn't well and I took $10 from your wallet. I'm really sorry that it happened. Here's your money back, and God willing, I won't do anything like that in the future."
52. Notice that John's part in it is not mentioned. It's very important to remember that even if he were ninety-nine per cent responsible, we only talk about our one percent. We only look at the part we played in it.
53. Sometimes our part may seem to be nonexistent. We often need the input of other people to help us find what our part may have been. For instance, one of R.A.'s members shares a story about apologizing to his brother for being born.
54. One of R.A.'s members shares:
"My brother and sister had a very close relationship until I was born. My sister then became responsible for taking care of me. My brother grew to resent me because now he had lost his playmate. That resentment was apparent throughout our entire lives.
"Even though I was not responsible for being born, I learned that I could still regret a situation that caused someone pain. Doesn't a normal person, a sane person, regret that a situation caused somebody pain, even though they played no part in it?
"I went to my brother and expressed my regrets that being born had caused him such pain. I said that if there were anything that I could do to make it up to him, I would try. There was no responsibility involved; I just expressed an honest regret."
55. Another one of R.A.'s members shares:
"I was talking to someone when I had a bad cold. In the middle of the conversation, without wanting to, without being able to stop myself, I let out a horrendous sneeze all over them. It wasn't something I did deliberately. It was totally beyond my control.
"I've now learned that, even though what happened was totally beyond my control, it is still appropriate to regret that it happened. I now know that a sane person would express his regret that the incident happened. Wouldn't any sane person hand a handkerchief or tissue to the person and try to wipe him off? Wouldn't a sane person try not to do that again?"
56. Our part is what we regret. We're not assuming responsibility. Responsibility has no part in it. That's an important concept because it holds many people back.
57. When we use the cop-out, "Well, I didn't play a part in that. He did it all," the only one we hurt is ourselves.
58. A different R.A member shares:
"I had been terribly hurt by a family member. And, because that family member frequently attended family functions and affairs, I never went to them. Now who was being affected by my anger and resentment?
"The person who hurt me was totally unaware of how I felt. They went to all these family parties and affairs and had a great time. I was the only one being hurt because I held on to my anger and resentment."
59. We need to be willing, to be ready, to let God remove our anger and resentment, so that the people we resent no longer control our lives. For instance, if there is anyone that makes you so uncomfortable that you would not walk into a room when they're present, perhaps that is a person to whom you need to make amends.
60. If, when you see that person, you turn around and leave, you're the one who's being affected. We're in this program to stop hurting ourselves, as well as others.
61. The reason we make amends should not be for the response it will bring from the other person. We're not making these amends to win a popularity contest. We don't need to have a relationship with these people. We simply can't afford to have the anger and resentment influencing OUR lives.
62. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 35, in the fifth paragraph, the pioneers share more of their experience. They say:
"In nine cases out of ten the unexpected happens. Sometimes the man you are calling upon admits his own fault; so feuds of years' standing melt away in an hour. Rarely will you fail to make satisfactory progress. Your former enemies will sometimes praise what you are doing and wish you well. Occasionally, they will cancel a debt, or otherwise offer assistance. It should not matter, however, if someone does throw you out of his office. You have made your demonstration, done your part. It's water over the dam."
63. In other words, in "nine cases out of ten," the result of making amends is positive.
64. However, in the other situations, the pioneers assure us that it "should not matter, however, if someone does throw you out of his office. You have made your demonstration, done your part. It's water over the dam."
65. The pioneers tell us that it doesn't matter what the person we are making amends to does or says when we make our amends. If they're still angry and resentful toward us and they say, "What the hell are you talking about? Get out of here. I want nothing to do with you," it doesn't matter.
66. Their response may hurt our feelings, but we did our part. We made our amends. It's water over the dam. If they hold on to their anger and resentment, that's not our problem. We've made our demonstration. That's the important aspect. Whether there is a future relationship is irrelevant to the amends process.
67. We may find the relationship being healed, if that's our Higher Power's will. However, if there's somebody you dislike, going to him or her to make amends is not going to make him or her like you. It's not going to make you like him or her. It doesn't have to.
68. One of R.A.'s members shares:
"There was someone on my list of amends who I hadn't seen in 25 years.
"How could I approach this person after all this time and make amends for the harm I had caused 25 years ago? He probably didn't even remember what I did. What would be the point?
"The point was that after 25 years, it still bothered ME enough to put it in my inventory. I realized that it didn't matter what that person would think after 25 years! I may have hurt others and myself because I held on to it."
69. We're in Recoveries Anonymous to save our lives, literally. We have a life and death disease. Whatever problem we want to find a solution for, whether it's an emotional problem, a physical problem, a mental problem, or any combination of problems, it's potentially fatal. We are here to save our lives.
70. Someone once said, "Well, if I go to these people to make amends, they're going to see how weak I am. They're going to see that I can't handle this problem on my own."
71. Think about this. Someone is drowning, and they are thrown a life preserver. Can you picture that drowning person ignoring that life preserver because he didn't want the people who threw it to think he was too weak to save himself?
72. This Ninth Step is our life preserver. We need to use it. We can't afford to care what other people think. We can't afford to worry about how they'll react. We're saving our lives. It's that simple. The chances of somebody recovering without going through this step are greatly reduced.
73. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 35, starting in the bottom paragraph, the pioneers share more of their "clear-cut directions." They say:
"Most alcoholics owe money. Do not dodge your creditors. Tell them what you are trying to do. Make no bones about your drinking; they usually know it anyway, whether you think so or not. Never be afraid of disclosing your alcoholism on the theory it may cause you financial harm. Approached in this way, the most ruthless creditor will sometimes surprise you. Arrange the best deal you can and let these people know you are sorry your drinking has made you slow to pay. You must lose your fear of creditors no matter how far you have to go, for you are liable to drink if you are afraid to face them."
74. We think that the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" can be applied to each of these situations.
75. The pioneers specifically say, "Do not dodge your creditors. Tell them what you are trying to do. Make no bones about your drinking; they usually know it anyway, whether you think so or not. Never be afraid of disclosing your alcoholism on the theory it may cause you financial harm."
76. The pioneers then share their experience. They say, "Approached in this way, the most ruthless creditor will sometimes surprise you."
77. The pioneers go on to say, "Arrange the best deal you can and let these people know you are sorry your drinking has made you slow to pay."
78. Once again, the pioneers then share their experience. They say, "You must lose your fear of creditors no matter how far you have to go, for you are liable to drink if you are afraid to face them."
79. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 36, in the first full paragraph, the pioneers go on to give a list of additional situations that require an amends to be made. They say:
"Perhaps you have committed a criminal offense which might land you in jail if known to the authorities. You may be short in your accounts and can't make good. You have already admitted this in confidence to another person, but you are sure you would be imprisoned or lose your job if it were known. Maybe it's only a petty offense such as padding your expense account. Most of us have done that sort of thing. Maybe you have divorced your wife. You have remarried but haven't kept up the alimony to number one. She is indignant about it, and has a warrant out for your arrest. That's a common form of trouble too."
80. In the pioneers' experience, these are "common" forms of trouble.
81. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 36, in the second paragraph, the pioneers share even more of their experience and "clear-cut directions." They say:
"Although these reparations take innumerable forms, there are some general principles which we find guiding. Remind yourself that you have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience. Ask that you be given the strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequence to you. You may lose your position or reputation, or face jail, but you are willing. You have to be. You must not shrink at anything."
82. The pioneers remind us that all the way back on page 26, in the second paragraph, they said, "Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it — then you are ready to follow directions.
83. Since you have been following their directions, you must have decided you want what they have, and "are willing to go to any length to get it."
84. Please notice that here the pioneers are defining what they have as "a spiritual experience."
85. Therefore, they give one of their "clear-cut directions." They say to, "Ask that you be given the strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequence to you."
86. They make it clear that the degree of willingness is what is important here. Someone must be willing to lose his or her "position or reputation." They must be willing to go to jail, if necessary. However, the pioneers don't recommend that as the solution.
87. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 36, starting in the third paragraph, and continuing all the way through the top paragraph on page 37, the pioneers continue sharing their experience. They say:
"Usually, however, other people are involved. Therefore, you are not to be the hasty and foolish martyr who would needlessly sacrifice others to save himself from the alcoholic pit. A man we know had remarried. Because of resentment and drinking, he had not paid alimony to his first wife. She was furious. She went to court and got an order for his arrest. He had commenced our way of life, had secured a position, and was getting his head above water. It would have been impressive heroics if he had walked up to the Judge and said, 'Here I am.'
"We thought he ought to be willing to do that if necessary, but if he were in jail, he could provide nothing for either family. We suggested he write his first wife admitting his faults and asking forgiveness. He did, and also sent a small amount of money. He told her what he would try to do in the future. He said he was perfectly willing to go to jail if she insisted. Of course she did not, and the whole situation has long since been adjusted.
"If taking drastic action is going to implicate other people, they should be consulted. Use every means to avoid wide-spread damage. You cannot shrink, however, from the final step if that is clearly indicated. If, after seeking advice, consulting others involved, and asking God to guide you, there appears no other just and honorable solution than the most drastic one, you must take your medicine. Trust that the eventual outcome will be right.
"This brings to mind a story about one of our friends. While drinking, he accepted a sum of money from a bitterly-hated business rival, giving him no receipt for it. He subsequently denied having taken the money and used the incident as a basis for discrediting the man. He thus used his own wrong-doing as a means of destroying the reputation of another. In fact, his rival was ruined.
"He felt he had done a wrong he could not possibly make right. If he opened that old affair, he was sure it would destroy the reputation of his partner, disgrace his family and take away his own means of livelihood. What right had he to involve those dependent upon him? How could he possibly make a public statement exonerating his rival?
"He finally came to the conclusion that it was better to take those risks than to stand before his Creator guilty of such ruinous slander. He saw that he had to place the outcome in God's hands or he would soon start drinking again, and all would be lost anyhow. He attended church for the first time in many years. After the sermon, he quietly got up and made an explanation. His action met widespread approval, and today he is one of the most trusted citizens of his town. This all happened three years ago."
88. So, the pioneers' experience is that all sorts of situations can be resolved by applying the program's spiritual principles to each one.
89. Here are some additional examples. In circumstances where jail may be called for, for instance shoplifting, or theft of another nature, it is okay to send an anonymous bank check or money order.
90. We don't have to present ourselves and say, "I stole a couple of hundred dollar's worth of something or other, and here's the money." Chances are, as an example to others, they may want to prosecute.
91. Being compulsive, we sometimes go to extremes. One lady shared that she stole a pair of designer jeans that were old and worn. She asked if she had to go out and replace them with a brand new pair of designer jeans.
92. The answer is no. We make restitution for the harm we have done. That means if we stole a $20 pair of jeans, we make restitution with a $20 pair of jeans, not a $60 pair. We don't want to punish ourselves in this step because that would set up a roadblock that would stop us from moving forward.
93. We should not be overly critical of ourselves, just willing to make things right.
94. Remember the main purpose of this process. The Big Book says we "agreed to go to any length to find a spiritual experience." This is because the spiritual experience brings about the drastic psychic change that so alters our ideas, our emotions, and our attitudes that our behavior changes.
95. When this happens, we no longer hurt others or ourselves.
96. Many of us spent our entire lives trying to get better by changing our behavior. This program works on the problem from the other direction: changing the motive behind the behavior. Once the ideas, the concepts and the motives behind the behavior change, the behavior changes automatically.
97. You'll again notice the concept of willingness. In this step, as in many areas, willingness can be as important as action.
98. One of R.A.'s members shares:
"There are people I hurt 20 or more years ago. I have no way of contacting them now. If it were possible for me to make these amends, I would. I fully believe that I am willing to make these amends if the situation should ever change so that I could make them."
99. In this type of situation, the willingness is enough. It shouldn't be used as a rationalization. If we can contact someone, we do need to make direct amends.
100. Another one of R.A.'s members shares a suggestion that clarified the actions he needed to take:
"It was suggested that if there were someone on my list who was within 500 miles, I should do whatever I could to make personal, direct contact.
If someone is outside that area, I should then try with a phone call. And if someone were unreachable by phone, then the third option would be a letter or an e-mail."
101. Another circumstance in which using a letter would be appropriate is a situation in which you would not want the recipient to know where you are living now. For instance, if you feel that you are in physical danger from someone with whom you had a bad relationship, you may not want him or her to know your current whereabouts. A letter without a return address would certainly suffice.
102. E-mail, can often be traced back to the person who sent it. One suggestion is to use the computer in a coffee shop, or library to open a new e-mail account with a free e-mail service. This new e-mail address can be used to send amends to people you don't want to know where you live.
103. It is also important to remember that we don't want to hurt anyone by making amends. This includes the person we are making amends to, or any other people who may be involved.
104. Each situation is unique and needs to be discussed at length with other people. There are many other situations that may be equally complex.
105. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 37, in the first, and second paragraphs, the pioneers share more of their experience, and their "clear-cut directions." They say:
"The chances are that you have serious domestic troubles. You are perhaps mixed up with women in a fashion you wouldn't care to have advertised. We doubt if, in this respect, alcoholics are fundamentally much worse than other people. But drinking does complicate sex relations in the home. After a few years with an alcoholic, a wife gets worn out, resentful, and uncommunicative. How could she be anything else? The husband begins to feel lonely, sorry for himself. He commences to look around in the night clubs, or their equivalent, for something besides liquor. You may be having a secret and exciting affair with 'the girl who understands me.' In fairness we must say that she may understand, but what are you going to do about a thing like that? A man so involved often feels very remorseful at times, especially if he is married to a loyal and courageous girl who has literally gone through hell for him.
"Whatever the situation, you usually have to do something about it. If you are sure your wife does not know, should you tell her? Not always, we think. If she knows in a general way that you have been wild, should you tell her in detail? Undoubtedly you should admit your fault. Your wife may insist on knowing all the particulars. She will want to know who the woman is and where she is. We feel you ought to say to her that you have no right to involve another person. You are sorry for what you have done and, God willing, it shall not be repeated. More than that you cannot do; you have no right to go further. Though there may be justifiable exceptions, and though we wish to lay down no rule of any sort, we have often found this the best course to take."
106. The pioneers say, "You may be having a secret and exciting affair with 'the girl who understands me.' " In the next paragraph they say, "Whatever the situation, you usually have to do something about it. If you are sure your wife does not know, should you tell her? Not always, we think."
107. In R.A., we think that this is a very simple principle. We don't want to have to make amends for making amends. We don't hurt somebody else in order to clear our own conscience.
108. It's not appropriate to walk up to a husband or wife and say, "Surprise, honey! I've been having an affair. I'm sorry about it, and I'll try to make it up to you." In that situation, we would probably do more harm than good.
109. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 37, in the third and fourth paragraphs, the pioneers share more of their experience, and their "clear-cut directions. They say:
"Our design for living is not a one-way street. It is as good for the wife as for the husband. If you can forget, so can she. It is better, however, that you do not needlessly name a person upon whom she can vent her natural jealousy.
"There are some cases where the utmost frankness is demanded. Perhaps yours is one of them. No outsider can appraise such an intimate situation. It may be you will both decide that the way of good sense and loving kindness is to let by-gones be by-gones. Each of you might pray about it, having the other one's happiness uppermost in mind. Keep it always in sight that you deal with that most terrible human emotion — jealousy. Good generalship may decide that you and your wife attack the problem on the flank rather than risk face-to-face combat. You have to decide about that alone with your Creator."
110. It should be noted that the pioneers originally intended for both the wife and the husband to work the program together. They say, "Our design for living is not a one-way street. It is as good for the wife as for the husband."
111. The pioneers also give one of their "clear-cut directions." They say to "not needlessly name a person upon whom she can vent her natural jealousy." This direction is as good for the wife as for the husband.
112. In the next paragraph, the pioneers say, "There are some cases where the utmost frankness is demanded. Perhaps yours is one of them. No outsider can appraise such an intimate situation."
113. They then sum up this paragraph by saying, "You have to decide about that alone with your Creator."
114. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 37, in the fifth and sixth paragraphs, the pioneers again share their experience. They say:
"Should you have no such complication, there is still plenty you should do at home. Sometimes we hear an alcoholic say that the only thing he needs to do is to keep sober. Certainly he needs to keep sober, for there will be no home if he doesn't. But he is yet a long way from making good to the wife or parents whom for years he has so shockingly treated. Passing all understanding is the patience mothers and wives have had with alcoholics. Had this not been so, many of us would have no homes today, would perhaps be dead."
"The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil. We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough. He is like the farmer who came up out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined. To his wife, he remarked, 'Don't see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain't it grand the wind stopped blowin'?' "
115. The pioneers say, "Sometimes we hear an alcoholic say that the only thing he needs to do is to keep sober." Then in the next paragraph, they say, "We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough."
116. Just like the pioneers, in R.A. we have often heard people say that the only thing they need is their sobriety, or their abstinence, or their emotional stability.
117. However, just like the pioneers, R.A.'s experience is that the people who say this are unthinking; they are fooling themselves. The sad fact is that if someone starts to feel good, they may think they don't need to complete the entire process. They don't think they need to go through all Twelve Steps.
118. Sadly, R.A.'s experience has shown that if someone doesn't complete the process, they will almost certainly lose that good feeling.
119. This is especially true at this point in the program. When someone starts making their amends, they often see a dramatic effect. The promises start to come true for them.
120. However, if they forget that they need to work all of the Twelve Steps, to get all of the results, they may stop before they finish. They may say, "That's enough. I have my sobriety. I have my abstinence. I don't have to go on with the rest of this process. It's too painful."
121. They forget that if they stop working R.A.'s program, R.A.'s program will stop working for them. Therefore, we need to stop for a moment and remember why we are here.
122. In A.A.'s Twelve and Twelve on page 39, starting in the middle of the next to last line, Bill says: "More sobriety brought about by the admission of alcoholism and by attendance at a few meetings is very good indeed, but it is bound to be a far cry from permanent sobriety and a contented, useful life. That is just where the remaining Steps of the A.A. program come in. Nothing short of continuous action upon these as a way of life can bring the much desired result."
123. In other words, R.A.'s program promises a permanent recovery, a permanent sobriety, and a contented, USEFUL life. That is the ultimate goal.
124. That's why it is important to completely work all Twelve Steps. If the program didn't make these promises, why would anyone be willing to work it?
125. When the program is promising a permanent recovery and a contented useful life, as the result of fully working all Twelve Steps, why would anyone settle for the self-centered goal of merely being sober, or merely being abstinent?
126. Back in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 37, starting in the bottom paragraph, the pioneers share more of their experience, and their "clear-cut directions." They say:
"Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead. You must take the lead. A remorseful mumbling that you are sorry won't fill the bill at all. You ought to sit down with your family and frankly analyze your past as you now see it, being very careful not to criticize them. Never mind their defects. They may be glaring, but the chances are that your own actions are partly responsible. So clean house with the family, asking each morning in meditation that your Creator show you the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness and love."
127. The pioneers start off this passage by saying, "Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead. You must take the lead. A remorseful mumbling that you are sorry won't fill the bill at all."
128. One of R.A.'s members shares an understanding of the amends process that has helped many people.
129. He believes that there are three different elements in the amends process. This information is also in the Review Notes for Step Nine in the back of R.A.'s Step Presentation Workbook.
130. This R.A. member shares:
"When I looked at the amends process as having three distinct elements, it became very different from just saying, 'I'm sorry.' The three elements are:
1. The expression of sorrow.
2. The offer to make restitution—the attempt to set things right.
3. The expression that, God willing, these things won't be repeated.
"The first element, the expression of sorrow, can also be divided into three distinct kinds of amends: 'I'm sorry' or, 'I apologize' or, 'I regret.'
"Understanding the difference between 'I apologize,' 'I'm sorry' and 'I regret,' made it easier for me to make my amends. To explain my understanding of the differences, I use the following examples:
"The first example is of an occasion in which I walked into my kitchen, went to the refrigerator, and saw some leftovers there. In spite of the fact that I knew those leftovers were set-aside for someone's dinner, I ate them. I was hungry, and I ate them.
"When the person that the leftovers were being saved for came in and asked for their dinner, I said, 'I apologize. I knew those were being saved for you. I should not have had them, and I apologize.'
"In this case, the word 'apologize' implies guilt, contrition, and remorse over a deliberate act of wrongdoing.
"In another situation, I didn't know that the leftovers were being saved for someone's dinner, and I ate them. Now when the person the leftovers were being saved for came in looking for their dinner, I said, 'I didn't realize that those leftovers were being saved for you. I'm sorry for inadvertently eating your dinner.'
"In this situation, 'sorry' is used to express sadness for an inadvertent mistake.
"In a third example, I walked into the kitchen and someone else had eaten those leftovers. But I was blamed even though it was not my fault that someone was deprived of his or her dinner. There's nothing for me to apologize for, I'm not at fault, and I don't like being blamed. But, I still expressed my regret that the incident happened, that someone was deprived of his or her dinner.
"In this circumstance, the expression of 'regret' refers to a situation that was entirely due to circumstances beyond my control."
131. In R.A., we think it is important to remember that the original name of the Ninth Step was the "restitution step." Its original purpose was to make an attempt to restore things to the condition they would have been in, if what happened had not happened.
132. If someone stole some money, they return it. If someone had cheated somebody out of something, they attempt to restore it. If someone injured somebody, they try to repair the damage.
133. Then, they need to make a conscious effort, with God's direction and guidance, to not do that same thing again. Next, recognizing that they're not going to be perfect, they may do it again; but if they do it again, they make amends again.
134. It doesn't make sense to say, "I'm sorry for stabbing you in the back," while sharpening the next knife.
135. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 38, continuing with the first full paragraph, the pioneers share:
"The spiritual life is not a theory. You have to live it. Unless your family expresses a desire to live upon spiritual principles, however, we think you ought to leave them alone. You should not talk incessantly about spiritual matters to them. They will change in time. Your practice will convince them more than your words. Remember that ten or twenty years of drunkenness would make a skeptic out of anyone."
136. We think it is interesting to note that in the current Big Book, the second sentence of this paragraph is italicized. The pioneers say, "The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it."
137. The pioneers also give another of their "clear-cut directions." They say, "Unless your family expresses a desire to live upon spiritual principles, however, we think you ought to leave them alone. You should not talk incessantly about spiritual matters to them."
138. We believe this is so clear that it does not need any further comments from us.
139. The pioneers then go on to share more of their experience. Referring to the family, the pioneers say, "They will change in time. Your practice will convince them more than your words. Remember that ten or twenty years of drunkenness would make a skeptic out of anyone."
140. It is interesting to note that in the current Big Book, instead of saying your "practice will convince them more than your words," they say your "behavior will convince them..."
141. In other words, the pioneers are saying that someone's actions will be more convincing to their family than mere words.
142. For example, one of R.A.'s members shares:
"Instead of simply going to my husband and saying, 'I'm sorry that I don't say I love you more often,' I now recognize that I need to go to my husband more often, and actually SAY to him, 'I love you.' "
143. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 38, in the second paragraph, the pioneers continue sharing their "clear-cut directions." They say:
"There may be some wrongs you can never fully right. Don't worry about them if you can honestly say to yourself that you would right them if you could. Some people you cannot see — send them an honest letter. And there may be a valid reason for postponement in some cases. But don't delay if it can be avoided. Be sensible, tactful, and considerate. Be humble without being servile or scraping. As one of God's people you are to stand on your feet; don't crawl on your belly before anyone."
144. Once again the pioneers make clear the importance of willingness. They say, "There may be some wrongs you can never fully right. Don't worry about them if you can honestly say to yourself that you would right them if you could."
145. The pioneers then go on to give several examples. They say that if there are some "people you cannot see," it is okay to "send them an honest letter."
146. They also say that while "there may be a valid reason for postponement in some cases," "don't delay if it can be avoided."
147. One of R.A.'s members shares:
"I remember some of the harm I did.
"There were times I hurt total strangers. Even if I bumped into them today, I wouldn't remember who they were.
"There is no way I could make restitution for the harm I have done. But, today I believe I am willing to do so. If I could make these amends, I would."
148. The pioneers then give "clear-cut directions" for actually making amends. They say, "Be sensible, tactful, and considerate. Be humble without being servile or scraping. As one of God's people you are to stand on your feet; don't crawl on your belly before anyone."
149. In other words, someone needs to be "sensible, tactful, and considerate," when they approach someone to make amends.
150. The pioneers expect someone to be "humble without being servile or scraping," when they go to people to make amends.
151. We are not in this program to learn how to be doormats.
152. The pioneers don't expect someone to make amends on their knees. They don't expect someone to make amends by saying, "I'm sorry I did that. How can I make it up to you? Please, I need to do this to save my life, so tell me what to do and I'll do it." That's not why we're here.
153. We're not supposed to crawl before anyone. We are going to stand on our own two feet, supported by the R.A. fellowship and, more importantly, by our Higher Power.
154. For another example, what if we make amends by saying, "I'm sorry that incident happened. It was beyond my control at the time. What can I do to try to make it up to you?" And the person says, "Well, I want your first born child, and everything you earn from this day forward."
155. They are making an unreasonable demand. We don't have to do that. While making amends, we try to restore the situation to what it would have been if we had not done what we are making amends for.
156. Therefore, unless we stole his firstborn we don't restore a firstborn. We simply try to restore what we took.
157. For example, if someone stole $1000, they return the $1000, plus interest if it was taken a long time ago. Remember, someone needs to do this as a vital part of his or her own recovery, not for the effect it may have on the other person.
158. This next paragraph is very important because the first sentence of it is often skipped. When the first sentence is skipped, the rest of this paragraph is then out of its proper context.
159. This paragraph contains the "Promises" of the program.
160. To keep it in context, we are going to start reading with the first sentence. It says, "If you are painstaking about this phase of your development, you will be amazed before you are half way through."
161. The "phase of our development" the pioneers are talking about is the Ninth Step.
162. In other words, "If you are painstaking about this phase of your development," doing the Ninth Step, "you will be amazed before you are halfway through" doing the Ninth Step.
163. That's when someone is supposed to experience these promises. Not when they walk into their first meeting. Not when they work the first three steps, or the first five, or the first eight steps.
164. This sentence says that if someone has been painstaking about following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for the Ninth Step, they will be amazed before they are halfway through with the actions required by the Ninth Step.
165. It's interesting to note that the dictionary defines "painstaking" as being "closely attentive to details." Painstaking simply means being careful about the details, of how we go about the process of making amends. The dictionary definition of "painstaking" has nothing to do with being in pain.
166. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 38, in the third paragraph, the entire paragraph containing the "Promises" of the program says:
"If you are painstaking about this phase of your development, you will be amazed before you are half way through. You are going to know a new freedom and happiness. You will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. You will comprehend the word serenity and know peace. No matter how far down the scale you have gone, you will see how your experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. You will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in your fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Your whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave you. You will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle you. You will suddenly realize that God is doing for you what you could not do for yourself."
167. In R.A., we believe that most of these important promises are stated so clearly that no further comment from us is needed.
168. However, we do think it is important to note something important about the last promise in this paragraph. The pioneers promise, "You will suddenly realize that God is doing for you what you could not do for yourself."
169. They are not promising that God will HELP you to do what you couldn't do for yourself. This promise says that God will literally DO for you what you have always been unable to do for yourself.
170. In R.A., we believe that this next short paragraph is one of the most important in this program. This is because it contains one of the most important promises of the program.
171. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 38, in the fourth paragraph, the pioneers again share their experience. They say:
"You say these are extravagant promises. They are not. They are being fulfilled among us — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will materialize in you if you work for them."
172. We believe that this is a very important statement. The pioneers are sharing that their experience is that the "Promises" in the preceding paragraph "are being fulfilled among us — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly."
173. The pioneers then make a last promise. They say that these promises "will materialize in you if you work for them."
174. However, this promise was apparently not strong enough for them.
175. In the current version of the Big Book, they add a word. They say that these promises "will always materialize if we work for them."
176. The pioneers say that these promises will ALWAYS materialize. They don't say they will sometimes materialize, or maybe materialize, or will perhaps materialize. They assure us these promises will ALWAYS materialize if we work for them.
177. Please remember that this is a book of the pioneers' actual experiences. It is not a book of their dreams or hopes.
178. Now, you are AT the Ninth Step!
179. You have not yet done the Ninth Step. This step cannot be done by simply reading about it, or talking about it. You now need to go out and put what has been read and discussed into practice by actually making your amends.
180. It is suggested that you take the time to go over each amends with an R.A. sponsor or friend.
181. Any R.A. member who has gone through R.A.'s Step Presentation can give you an informed opinion after you have given him or her the facts of the situation.
182. If you do not have a primary sponsor, you can ask any R.A. member who has gone through this presentation to be your sponsor and work with you.
183. The Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Steps are the living steps. If you have not already done so, you need to start working each of these steps as you make your amends.
Please use R.A.'s Questions and Answers Forum to ask any questions or make any comments about any of this.