As you may know, Clearbrook teaches and believes in the “12 step model” of abstinence as our method of achieving a clean and sober life. We need to put down the drink and the drugs and thoroughly believe that we are powerless over them. Once we have that cemented in our hearts and minds we can begin to move through the remaining 11 steps. These are the steps that are going to create the feeling of freedom.
Today we are going to focus on the ninth step. Most people come into treatment with feelings of self-hatred, guilt, shame, and remorse. What many people want to do is go to the people they hurt and apologize for their behavior while they were in active addiction. Here is the problem with that and one of the reasons that the amends step is ninth on the list. We have said I’m sorry hundreds of times. We’ve told our loved ones that we’ll stop and that “this won’t happen again”. Only for us to turn around and do the same things over and over again. Apologies won’t suffice anymore.
The definition of apology is a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure. The step does not say we make direct apologies to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. The step says we make direct amends. The definition of amend is to alter or modify by the addition of or subtraction of something. If all we needed to do is apologize to people and institutions it wouldn’t go well. Many of us are in debt financially. Imagine if we went to our debtors and just said we are sorry. It wouldn’t go very well. What we need to do is make arrangements as best we can to pay that money back.
Our families deserve a true amends also. Direct amends to our families begin to put the family dynamic back together. No more I’m sorry, it’s time to change by addition or subtraction of our behaviors. We can start showing up for family occasions. We stop stealing, lying, and cheating. When we do this consistently our parents, spouses, and children notice. It is not an overnight affair, it should continue for our lifetimes.
When we live our lives in this manner all kinds of benefits come to us and the people around us. We no longer have to hide from and dodge people. We can answer our phones. We can open our mail. When the doorbell rings that overwhelming feeling of anxiety we are so used to, doesn’t happen anymore. We have seen entire families put back together from this one humbling step of the program.