Step 9 - when is it okay to write a letter?

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.
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helski
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Step 9 - when is it okay to write a letter?

Post by helski »

Quick question - when making amends when is it okay to write a letter rather than seeing the person 1 to 1 (assuming they would be willing to see you)? Is geographical distance an okay reason, or should you be willing to travel as far as it takes to see someone face to face?

Joe H
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Post by Joe H »

I have never written a letter of amends nor traveled any great distance, so I am not sure.

I have made direct amends when the right opportunity presented itself.

Oliver
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Post by Oliver »

I wrote a letter to somebody who I harmed because to make an appointment to see them would put them out more than me writing a letter. Specifically, this was a speaker at a college awards night who I shouted insults at from the crowd.

My sponsor generally works by the rule that unless I harmed somebody over the internet or in a letter, an internet or letter ammend insn't appropriate. The key consideration for him is whether I am balking out of fear or out of concern for the other person or genuine difficulty. I think it's important to remember that the most important ammend we can make is to ensure we do not repeat the same mistakes that we made in the past today.

Just my thoughts. Hope you are finding Step 9 as helpful and productive as I did.

Oliver
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LetgoJoe
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Post by LetgoJoe »

I think the only hard part about the letter thing is that the part of step nine that is really important for me is closure on the fact that I made the amend because it needed to be done. I guess I might not know that for sure by mail unless I sent it certified or something.

Also, there are some readings in the 12x12 and big book about how we have to be careful in the area of, "except when to do so may harm others." Say for example, I send a letter apologizing for some harms done to an ex and the specifics of those harms are of a degree that are not criminal but of a nature that if they were sent to my employer I could lose my job. Could that harm others? It would in my case. There are 5 people close to me in my life that are dependent on me for basic human needs that come from me having a job. And please don't confuse what I am saying with trying to evade being held accountable or being responsible. There is a difference between being held accountable for righteous reasons and being retaliated on by a vindictive nature of a scorned individual - one is proper justice, one is spiteful revenge. I was not taught that I had to subject myself to evil to make an amend.

For me when I was considering it, I went over it with my sponsor in specific detail. ~ Joe
Honesty gets us sober, tolerance keeps us sober. ~Bill W.

Oliver
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Post by Oliver »

LetgoJoe wrote: For me when I was considering it, I went over it with my sponsor in specific detail. ~ Joe
This was very important to me also, Joe. My sponsor saw with more experience eyes than me when I was balking out of fear and saw complications that I didn't see. He also managed to work out when I was hoping to make ammends for selfish reasons.

Oliver
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martin08
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Post by martin08 »

All of my ammends "questions" were considered carefully with my Sponsor.

I recommend the same with my Sponsees.

Steven F
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Re: Step 9 - when is it okay to write a letter?

Post by Steven F »

Some considerations, from my own personal experience... I had two "letter amends". One to my mother, who had died in the mean time. One to the "collection of ladies" who I had treated more or less in the same obnoxious way. Neither of them was actually sent.

The first is a logic choice, the second is for reasons of practicality (difficulties in seeking everyone out) and concern not to harm anyone further. And for both, I carefully went over it with my sponsor (who also got to read them and is recovered enough to see my BS when it is there and when I don't).

That said: if I ever meet one of these persons to whom letters were written and not sent, I am perfectly willing to make the amend then and there, if the situation warrants it. The concern there is not that I wouldn't want to talk to them face-to-face, but that I don't want to disrupt their lives by the physical act of talking in the wrong place, at the wrong time or in view of the wrong company. They know what I did, and I have no fear of telling them out loud. But I would not like to do that when they are accompanied by others they have to take into account (e.g. "new" husband).

I wrote other letters too, but these people could be found and reasonably approached in person, which I (rather promptly, as it is my butt on the line) did. The letters were then preparation of some kind (though I found that less preparation is better). I have travelled to make direct amends, and I must say these trips were probably the most interesting and satisfying "holidays" I ever had. In all this, I must admit though that my amends probably were probably futile stuff compared to what some others have to fess up.

So, the question is far from quick :-). You have to ask yourself and be honest about it: what if that person would all of a sudden stand next to me but doesn't bring anything up him- or herself. Would I have doubts making the amend? I have to say that, if the distance would be a real problem, I would try a phone-call first, and only then a letter.

And then, if you go the way of a letter, you need to check the result of the exercise. Do you feel liberated and free? Or is there still that nagging feeling? If the latter is true, I submit to you that you should probably go for a direct amend (possible because there was more harm to that person than you are aware of). Mind you, the "liberated and free" should come form cleaning up *your* side of the street - not from receiving an answer...

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Dean C
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Re: Step 9 - when is it okay to write a letter?

Post by Dean C »

What I found -- and this is just the way it worked for me -- was that once I put an amends on my list, it stayed there until it was made. I could cross it off the list, but if I hadn't really made an amends, it wouldn't go away. It was always with me until I took the correct, or sufficient, action to actually do the amends.

In other words, it isn't likely you're going to find the answer here. You'll find the answer within yourself.
"Whatever can be said can be said clearly."
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ShaneL
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Re: Step 9 - when is it okay to write a letter?

Post by ShaneL »

I never made any amends using letters but I did make amends using the telephone. In fact, I still find myself doing that as part of Step Ten.
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

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