Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video September 2 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"
September 2, 2013: "twelve steps, twelve traditions and twelve months." Over the years in my recovery, after the first year or so, having gone through the steps in my mind, my actions became more clear. We are not judged by our intentions, if we are judged at all by anyone anywhere, it will be in our actions. How we start to feel about ourselves each day shapes what we intend to do, and the actions we take. I was certainly not on top form in my early recovery, fear pride and ego looked and haunted my outlook and activities. I did not want the world to know how broken I had become. A Fellowship of action rather than intentions, learning how to be me one day at a time. All around me people were taking action.
In the first year, all the activity in meetings especially newcomer meetings felt far better than any time in previous years when the drink got me and had power over me. Going to any meeting I could find, the early days seemed to drag on, and then as each month, going to a chip meeting and learning to stand up, go and pick up a chip and be enthusiastically applauded made me very nervous and very cautious. It was hard to share anything about me in those early days, except the passage of time and the opportunity to read the literature, meet new people after many years of isolation, and the notion of courage to change, faith in doing the next right thing and it was okay to make mistakes and be confident in continually making mistakes. After all, now that the wall of isolation was coming down, and nobody was telling me off or making me feel small, confidence in being a human was being restored.
I had lost the idea of redemption for myself, at the same time I was eager to see the progress of people who came in to Fellowship around the same time as me. I was always amazed how younger people, very much younger than me, were making life work all over again. I was in that strange place, having a midlife crisis, and not sure if I had anything to offer. I forgot all the old skills, the way my mind works, all the intuitive leaps I could make, and then fill in the gaps about life working for others. I could help other people, and I could not help myself, I had lost trust in my abilities. And only through time did I realise that I could keep on helping my fellows, and at the same time learn about myself again, what motivated me and helped me find how to be useful in endeavours again. Even though I had no real plan of action other than be sober one day at a time, redemption was certainly happening to me too.
Twelve steps, twelve traditions and twelve months. A step and tradition a month, to ponder about, and share experience, strength and hope. September, the month about amends in action became my focus. "Made direct amends to such people were ever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." In other words, having made a list of amends to make and be willing to make them, now a look at amends in action. Amends in action starts with the first day we try to keep sober, and then every day the living amend to ourselves and those we love, and maybe still love us too, it is the beginning without end in being restored to human and however that might turn out.
Amends into action, it is not a case of look at me, I am sober and I'm sorry. And although underneath everything, we are hoping people see that we are sober and doing the best we can to restore our lives and be part of whatever community will accept us as learners and how to be human. In the old days, I can recollect that with a sharp wit, a keen eye to see the vulnerability of others, my father taught me how to analyse people around me as if it were a sport. Of course he learned and was quick to see the faults in other people because that is what he learned from growing up and is own adult experiences. Never looking at is own behaviour as an alcoholic, if it did occur to him, he squashed that notion very quickly. By the time I was in recovery, I had forgiven my father everything because if he had known better, he would have asked for help emotionally rather than materially. And of course as children, we had no clue how to help him, so the living amend of recovery and learning about forgiveness for everyone was key to truthful living about myself.
Amends into action: a lifetime experience of recognising that people are doing the best they can with what they know. And sometimes the journey, when people are doing the best they can with what they know will horrify anyone involved, seeing it from the outside or looking at the world and its calamities. If people were rational and sane, there would be no wars and no poverty because it would be wrong, or would it? It just depends on your current values, integrity and honesty to find the truth. And sometimes we forget we are driven by our moods and our emotions in the moment of now which has little to do with being rational and sane. Amends in action is sometimes pausing long enough before action, and sometimes this is the hardest thing to do.
Whenever the opportunity arises, and in this interconnected world, we do meet people from the past, or know where they are, and there is something very important to understand, not everyone we have harmed will want anything to do with us, and quite rightly. And just because we are sorry and truly wish we had behaved differently, does not mean an amend is possible or wanted. Asking for help with step nine, we make choose different peopleto help us for different amends and advice about them, because causing further harm is very important. There are many things we will not do again and we have learned our lesson probably over and over again. How we behave today, open, honest and willing to live the truth of now is where we start every morning.
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