By Karen Gallant, Addictions Counsellor, Virtual Intensive Treatment Program
When I first came into recovery, I thought my past actions didn’t hurt others. When I read through the steps the first time and came across the ninth step, I thought, ‘well, I won’t need to do that step.’ As I walked through the work with my sponsor, more was revealed when I completed my 4th and 5th steps. With meetings and the work with my sponsor, my thought that ‘I won’t need to do the ninth step’ turned to ‘how will I ever be able to do that step?’
Step Nine became a great fear of mine, and all the damage I had done to others started to weigh on me. My sponsor worked with me through the process, and over the years, I have been able to make amends to those I have harmed. It is not an overnight process.
The first time I did Step Nine, I went to those closest to me with a sincere desire to amend my past behaviour. My family, with open arms, accepted my amends and asked me to continue this work of recovery. This was the Karen they knew, loved, and wanted to keep around.
I engaged in the program, fellowship, and service as the years passed. More harm I had done became apparent to me, and it took me some time to come to terms with, heal, and forgive myself. I can say that the secrets I intended to take to the grave with me were starting to unravel. When I became willing and asked God to take the rest, He did. I genuinely believe that my Higher Power led me through this work because I do not think I would have had the courage to look at it on my own. I was able to amend a harm that I had been sitting with for 15 years.
Unravelling a secret weaved into the fiber of my being was a humbling experience. I approached those I had harmed to finally tell the truth, alter, and repair whatever I could because I was genuinely willing to go to any length. What felt like cinderblocks started to be lifted off my heart. I was finally beginning to understand what freedom was, and it was liberating.
If you feel that Step Nine is scary, that’s because, on our own, it is. We walk the first eight steps with our higher power and sponsors. Becoming genuinely willing, with all our hearts, to be free of the cinderblocks is within ourselves. Ask God to direct the rest, he does come through. The Ninth Step is the step where I found the most freedom and contentment. I no longer hide anything about myself. I am exactly who God made me to be. Perfectly Imperfect.