Home Steps Step 9: Honest Effort

Step 9: Honest Effort

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In one of my meetings this week, we were asked to respond to a question from the Twelve Step Workbook of Overeaters Anonymous regarding Step Nine. I chose “What is the purpose of Step Nine?” (p. 65). I completed my first Step Nine amends the first year I joined OA, but I never fully answered all the questions in the workbook. So this time I began to look carefully at what the completion of Step Nine has meant and still means to me as I practice the Principles of the Twelve Steps in all my affairs.

Step Nine meant I could take action to finally make amends, apologize, and change my behavior toward those whom I had harmed or wronged in the past.

In Steps Four and Five, I looked very carefully at the wrongs I did to others and admitted those wrongs to myself, God, and my sponsor.

In the religious tradition of my youth, I learned that God only forgives wrongs, or sins, committed against him and that sins committed against my fellows could only be forgiven by the people whom I had wronged. However, The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous tells me that these people “don’t owe us forgiveness, and we don’t need it to complete step nine and recover from compulsive eating” (p. 77). It only matters that I make an honest effort to apologize for my wrongs and then amend, or change, my behavior toward others. Only then can my conscience be cleared of old guilt.

When I walked into the rooms, weighing 313 pounds (142 kg), I had no idea why I ate like I did. Then I learned in the rooms that I ate to hide from fears, guilt, and resentments. By truly apologizing and making amends to those I had harmed, I found I no longer needed to hide from shame and guilt by using food.

I believe now that if I make honest and thorough amends, God will forgive me for my wrongs. I will be washed clean and be ready to face life without old guilt haunting me and without the need for me to eat compulsively.

Did it work for me? Well, here I am, nearly five and a half years later, maintaining a weight loss of 145–150 pounds (66–68 kg) for more than three years. My life has completely changed, not only with respect to food, but in all areas. The promises in the Big Book have come true for me (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., pp. 83–85). But I know they will continue to do so only if I continue working the Steps on a daily basis, one day at a time.

—Sander B., Marietta, Georgia, USA

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