Step 9: When Amends is Not Accepted

Hocking Hills Ohio

Contributor: Brie Morzov, MSW, LCSW, and contributor for Addiction Hope

Step 9: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when it would injure them or others”.

Ideally, our amends are accepted. After all the work and courage it takes to approach this step…and then its possible person denies my petition for forgiveness. Why even bother? Simple, our desire for forgiveness cannot, should not, be about anything except my healing.

Conflict between man and woman sitting on either side of a wallNow please don’t misunderstand. Step 9 is about righting wronged relations, and thus denotes other’s feelings and experiences of me are important.

But Step 9 is really about me stepping out of my shame and ego and acknowledging that I have done wrong, that my addiction has affected more than just me, my choices have negatively impacted my loved ones too.

When my addiction has ruled my choices, and I’ve lost control, the collateral damage can seem insurmountable. Now, in recovery, I make a valiant attempt to heal and start a life on a different path, but I will continued to be tripped by past choices if I don’t acknowledge and attempt to repair this damage.

So we can likely all agree on the need for amends, but how can I still heal if the offended person doesn’t acknowledge or accept my petition for forgiveness? In understanding and accepting that how my healing comes is internal, not external.

It occurs within me, based on my choices, not based on how other’s respond to my choices. Freedom and healing does not come because someone else acknowledges, forgives, or minimizes the impact of the pain my addiction may have caused. It comes by my recognition and responsibility.

Ability to Respond

Response-ability. My ability to respond in humility and grace, in peace and healing. Others, depending on how hurt they are, how untrusting or immature, may not be response-able. That doesn’t mean I need to negate the action of seeking forgiveness or amends. One just doesn’t know what may happen when I take responsibility and seek peace.

man and woman sitting on front porch swingSometimes, healing just takes time. Or sometimes, the other person is so stuck in their own brokenness, they aren’t able to extend forgiveness or peace. That’s ok, I can only do me. I can only control me. And in doing the right thing now, I heal past wrong doings. And often something miraculous occurs when I take response-ability, I am able to about-face, turnaround, repent, heal.

And what about when I can’t make amends because of potential harm the amends may cause, the same rings true. That amends, like any other amends, becomes between me and my Higher Power, my Source.

I may choose to write a letter and not send it, or speak it to another person role playing as if it were that person. But no matter what the conditions of amends may be, the most important factor is I forgive myself for those actions. I ask God for forgiveness and I move forward with the commitment to self, God and the world that I will learn from those past choices and move forward healed.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Have you asked for forgiveness that has been refused? What steps did you take to move past this unforgiveness to seek healing for yourself?

Brie MorzovAbout the author: Brie Morzov, is a Licensed Clinical Social Work in Oregon. She has worked in the field of addiction treatment and prevention for the past decade and continues to work as a therapist and author. She has a passion for helping hurting people heal and find their highest self.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 7, 2015
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