Home Steps Mopping Up Mistakes

Mopping Up Mistakes

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Step Nine
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.


Almost no one looks forward to doing Step Nine, yet it plays such an important part in any recovery that goes beyond weight loss. Two experiences showed me the advantage of working this Step with a sponsor.

Whenever I reviewed my past conduct, I always felt guilty; I’d cheated two employers out of many hours of labor I’d been paid for. When I disclosed this to my sponsor, she agreed that I owed them financial amends.

When I estimated the amount, it came to a few thousand dollars, even without allowing for inflation. I told her there was no way I could come up with that kind of money. She said that if I became willing, God would supply what was needed. I agreed I could spare twenty dollars every month. But when she said to put that much aside, each month, faithfully, to show my willingness, I protested. At that rate, it would take the rest of my life to pay it off. She said, “Do it anyway.”

I put a twenty-dollar bill into an envelope each month for three months. Then a letter arrived in the mail. It was from a lawyer who told me that my cousin Bill, who had died the previous year, had left me ten thousand dollars in his will. God provided the means to do the amends!

This same sponsor helped me make another amends. I had a cat and lived in an apartment building. From time to time the cat would get out and wander around in the hall. A neighbor complained to me about allowing him out, as she was highly allergic to cats. I tended to dismiss her complaints as the grumblings of a grouchy old woman. My sponsor set me straight—she had a daughter with severe allergies.

She assured me that such allergies could be life-threatening. She also agreed that a mere apology would not be enough, so she suggested an amends that would be of practical help to my neighbor: I could dust-mop the hall to reduce the allergens. I was sent to dust-mop once a week for the next couple of months.

I never would have thought of such an action myself, but I felt good enough about doing it that I continued even after the suggested time limit was up. It was much more effective than an apology.

— Dorothy, Grand Prairie, Texas USA


To hear more stories about working Step Nine, listen to the Step Nine podcast. Find it under “The Importance of Working All Twelve Steps” at oa.org/podcasts.

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