Step 9

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Step 9

Postby AndreaS » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:19 am

Hi all,

I'm a newbie - so new I haven't been to a meeting yet!

I'm a researcher, and somebody who keeps their commitments - so I won't tend to go through its something unless I'm aligned and can see it through to the end. I'm also a bit of a stickler for rules and ethics.

For this reason, step 9 gives me some pause. There are a few people I feel I've harmed through my alcoholism, and it's silly to pretend they didn't notice - even my child, and making amends for that is a no-brainer. There are some people I have harmed, mostly not through alcoholism, I'd be happy to make amends with, though might baulk at informing them I was alcoholic, because that would put my livelihood, and therefore my child's, at risk. And there is my ex-husband, who has perpetrated sexual, physical, and emotional violence on me, and emotional abuse and neglect on our child. I suppose there is the get out clause that if amends will hurt the recipient or others, that amends are not required. But forgiveness and tolerance is still called for. Unfortunately, as our child is still relatively young, we have shared care, and the abuse continues, with no remorse. I cannot forgive, not out of resentment or anger, but because forgiveness puts us both in danger. And to be quite blunt, I do not have it within me to see that ongoing, current abuse, with no remorse deserves, or even is constructive to forgive.

So - my fear is that if I engage in the 12 steps in a real meeting, people will see the above explanations as alcoholic "excuses" for why I choose not to forgive. I'm really just starting to recover from abusive conditioning (unfortunately my father was abusive also), and I'm finally starting to feel truly empowered, rather than just responsible for things I have no control over. As such, I am not yet sure that I am resilient enough to have a group of people I respect suggest that the responsibility for me to forgive my and my daughters abuser, despite lack of any recognition or remorse on his behalf, lies with me.

To provide context, I'm agnostic/atheist, and have spent quite a bit of time reading and understanding what I can, and have been comfortably able to resolve the spiritual connection and philosophy. This is my last sticking point, and I'd love honest feedback.
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Re: Step 9

Postby avaneesh912 » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:50 am

I will advice you to start with step one, if you are really serious about recovery. Find a sponsor and see if you can come to a conclusion that you are an alcoholic and that you need this program. There is a reason the steps are in an order.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: Step 9

Postby Brock » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:11 am

Welcome here Andrea, thanks for the question.

I respect your being a person who does research into things before committing wholeheartedly, however AA is one of those programs, which might be described, as a more will be reviled, as we go through the steps, learning experience. In our main text we call the Big Book, in speaking of the steps they say “at some of these we balk,”it’s usually at #’s 4 & 5 people seem to do that, but I am sure #9 looks intimidating if we plan that far ahead, I must say you sound very willing to do it with just a few reservations, which is great.

While it is true that resentment is the greatest enemy of alcoholics, and I believe anyone looking for peace and serenity, it’s best not to decide at this stage who we won’t or can’t forgive, same with who we won’t apologize to. I followed an online suggestion for my list of those people on #9, three lists, #1 those I am willing to right now, #2 those I will think about, & #3 no way in hell. What happens as we develop, is we tend to get around to all, or most at least, on every list.
...to have a group of people I respect suggest that the responsibility for me to forgive my and my daughters abuser, despite lack of any recognition or remorse on his behalf, lies with me.

No way that should happen, no group has any business telling anyone who to forgive or apologize to, only if you open yourself to it and ask the group should I do this or that, and even then, a good group chairman should intervene and say that’s between you and your sponsor, I would go further and say that’s between you and your conscience.

Don’t worry too much about the agnostic/atheist business, as you say “...been comfortably able to resolve the spiritual connection and philosophy,” very good indeed that’s all you need for now, people get tied up thinking AA is some sort of religion, here’s a quote from an article from an AA book ‘came to believe,’ -
A religion, properly, is of divine origin; governs the person in his relationship with his Higher Power; and promises its rewards and punishments after death. A philosophy is of human origin; governs the person in his relationship with his fellowman; and promises its rewards and punishments during life. A.A., I submit, is a philosophy.

Once you come in with an open mind you will succeed, please ask any questions or make any comments you wish, we enjoy giving our opinions and it helps us grow as well.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: Step 9

Postby Spirit Flower » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:54 am

Andrea, your problems are similar to many many people in AA. First, don't worry about step nine until after you do the first 8 steps. Second, you'll have plenty of time to talk to others and see what they did. Amends come in many forms. Forgiveness is for you; as in you don't want to be hateful for the rest of your life. Many people have found peace by seeing things differently. What that means is different for everyone. So many miracles can occur through the program of AA.
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Re: Step 9

Postby Tosh » Tue Jan 16, 2018 7:40 am

AndreaS wrote:And there is my ex-husband, who has perpetrated sexual, physical, and emotional violence on me, and emotional abuse and neglect on our child.


Can I just point out that an amend doesn't mean 'saying sorry' (though that may or may not be part of the process), it means 'change' (like you amend a document); i.e. you change a situation.

Personally, if you've also harmed your ex, given that he's violent, my suggestion would be to stay clear of him.

There's still an amend - maybe - though. If his past abuse is still affecting your life somehow, that's the thing that needs changing; amending.

However, agree with the others, Step 9 is Step 9 for a reason and more clarity will come through going through the earlier steps.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Step 9

Postby positrac » Tue Jan 16, 2018 7:45 am

simple program for complicated people and it is good to read through the steps, although not wise to pick and choose the order.
Work hard, stay positive, and get up early. It's the best part of the day.
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Re: Step 9

Postby AndreaS » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:02 pm

Thanks so much for all your answers. I really appreciate the time you have all taken to answer.

Thanks to both Brock and Tosh for really giving the specific issue some thought and some great suggestions. I'm a slow thinker as well as a researcher, so it'll take me a little while to understand exactly what this means to me (and I ask a LOT of questions, so may well pop up here again with more before I make that decision), but in the meantime I just wanted to say thank you.
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Re: Step 9

Postby Roberth » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:56 pm

Hello Andrea and welcome to E-AA. My name is Robert and I am a Los Angeles area alcoholic. Yeah it doesn’t make sense does it? Didn’t to me either but little did I know about the changes that would happen when I did the other steps first. Beside wouldn’t you need some testing of your hypothesis to come to a conclusion? 

I am an atheist and there is plenty of wiggle room in AA for us. I will tell you what they told me when I got to AA which was I would never have to take another drink if I didn’t want to, and even if I wanted to I would not have to if I was willing to do a few simple things. That has been true for 9512 ODAT and counting.
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Re: Step 9

Postby AndreaS » Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:29 pm

Hi Roberth, thanks for your thoughts. Sometimes when somebody reflects things back, it can be really useful. Sometimes it can make us realise we are quite clueless - so I'll admit that now! What hypothesis can you see I've made that needs testing - ruefully it is not obvious to me.
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Re: Step 9

Postby Tosh » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:06 pm

AndreaS wrote:Thanks so much for all your answers. I really appreciate the time you have all taken to answer.

Thanks to both Brock and Tosh for really giving the specific issue some thought and some great suggestions. I'm a slow thinker as well as a researcher, so it'll take me a little while to understand exactly what this means to me (and I ask a LOT of questions, so may well pop up here again with more before I make that decision), but in the meantime I just wanted to say thank you.


No worries, but you'll not get a proper understanding from an intellectual 'thinking' point of view. I'm only pointing this out because I'm judging (yes judging) you to be an intelligent person who will try to think through problems. That works for some stuff, but not for all (particularly our 'inner world' stuff).

The understanding comes after you take the actions outlined in the Big Book and *experience*.

It's like the old reading a menu and trying to understand what the food tastes like. You won't; you have to eat the food to fully understand. :lol:
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Step 9

Postby IngridP » Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:10 pm

I've done the steps as they are outlined in the BB with the help of a sponsor about 3 times. I was told that Step 9 is the step that separates the women from the girls and the men from the boys.

Doing the steps is like peeling off layers of an onion. Each time I did the steps my HP only revealed to me what I could handle at that time. Everything wasn't revealed all at once or I would have gone completely insane. As a I got stronger more was revealed.

It's so important to do the steps with a sponsor who can keep their mouth shut and doesn't gossip and has been through the steps themselves. They're an objective person who can listen without emotion who can help us sort out what our part is and if we owe an amends or not. My amends weren't done overnight. They took years. Some amends I can't make because it would harm others so I leave that in my HP's hands.

I was so bogged down with resentments I couldn't think clearly about some things so I needed help. I, too, have suffered abuse. I've been sober for 20 years so forgiveness has been a very long process that I'll be working on to the best of my ability for the rest of my life.

Some days I'm coasting along and everything's good and I forgive everybody who has ever wronged me. Some days are very, very dark and I pray that every single one of them gets there's. I'm a work in progress. I don't have to do any of the steps perfectly except the first one.

I wish you luck in your journey.
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Re: Step 9

Postby PaigeB » Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:43 pm

Sometimes when somebody reflects things back, it can be really useful. Sometimes it can make us realise we are quite clueless - so I'll admit that now! What hypothesis can you see I've made that needs testing - ruefully it is not obvious to me.

He might mean all the opportunities to test our practice of "Fear vs Faith/Love" that we get to do on our way to Step 9.

For instance - I am on way through the Steps for a 2nd time. I am just beginning Step 8. I have a new sponsor and a new way of going through the Steps. I have had both subtle and profound spiritual awakenings/understandings that have made this journey quite exciting! One thing is that I have to trust the Timeline given to me by the Universe. I can't wallow in the past nor worry in the future. I have to accept that I am OK right where I am.

But if you MUST jump ahead - like I did, LOL - Look at how to live day by day in Step 10 and how to begin a spiritual journey through prayer & meditation. Read the last story in the Big Book. Read the Appendix on Spiritual Experience. I have found it is futile and detrimental to worry about stuff I know nothing about = which means I am worried about what I am making up in my head. Instead, I can maybe start to practice the maintenance steps that I will need the rest of my life.

BTW - having a sponsor was a priceless tool for me. Her experience was a wealth of inspiration & information.
You can look at what sponsorship is here:
https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-15_Q&AonSpon.pdf
https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/aa-lite ... ponsorship
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