“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” - Step Nine in CoDA Big Book.
Speaking with newcomers, I have come to understand that many are terrified of Steps Four and Nine before they undertake working the steps. These steps are built up as “big” or “tough” ones in our minds. We understand that we must turn inward to complete these steps, and inside can be a difficult place to look through. I want you to know: the work is worth it. Look inside, organize the load that you carry into things that you can keep and things that you can let go. Step Nine helps us to release those things we no longer need to carry. It continues to help us lighten our load. It helps us to restore manageability in our lives.
It helps us to restore manageability in our lives.
When I first joined CoDA, I understood that it was about relationships, but I thought it was about relationships with others. As I worked my steps, I realized that my priority relationship is with my Higher Power, then my relationship with myself, followed by my relationships with other people, and finally my relationships with nouns (i.e. food, alcohol, etc.).
It follows that the first amends that I considered was that to my Higher Power. Then I gave an amends to myself. Finally, I considered if my codependency had harmed anyone else, and how I could express that. As I reflected on the list that I created in Step Eight, I realized that many of those people had harmed me, and how I codependently responded to them had harmed me.
The amends that I owed for that relationship was to me, because I harmed myself.
Step Nine reads, “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” It is important to recognize that you could be harmed in the process of giving direct amends, so indirect amends might be more appropriate. The essence of Step Nine is that it is about YOU (not them!). YOU need to speak your truth. Its less necessary that you speak you truth directly to the person.
The essence of Step Nine is that it is about YOU (not them!). YOU need to speak your truth. Its less necessary that you speak you truth directly to the person.
It is also important to keep in mind that the first time that you work your steps is only the first time. You will be working them for the remainder of your life. So, if an amends is not possible for you to give at this time, you can revisit it later, after you have peeled away more of your onion.
It is also important to keep in mind that the first time that you work your steps is only the first time.
As I close this blog post, I wonder:
How will you choose how to give a direct amends to your Higher Power, to yourself, and to others? Will you hold a conversation with them? Write a letter? Perform a ceremony? Meditate?
How can you practice selfcare and compassion as you work Step Nine?
How will you know if giving a direct amends will harm you? What action can you take if that is the case?