|EIGHTH STEP Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
NINTH STEP Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
THESE TWO steps are in such direct relation to each other it is simpler to discuss them as one.
It is at this point that we begin the physical act of rehabilitation. Here is something physical that we can do. It is where we clean up the book of our lives and start a brand new ledger.
Our debts are of two kinds, the physical and the moral. A very satisfactory way to square accounts is to take a piece of paper and list your debts.
As you square accounts check off each one. It is comforting process to watch the list grow smaller and smaller until it disappears. This is not an easy step. We would prefer to forget the past and its debts. But as long as we owe them, they are impossible to forget. They come back to haunt us. And an alcoholic can’t afford to be haunted by the past.
So we set about paying back our physical debts. There are those long-neglected bar bills what have driven us from some of our favorite haunts. There is the doctor, and the butcher, and the baker, and the friend who loaned us money. There is the vase we broke on a drunken party at a friend’s home, perhaps our financial condition does not permit us to clean up our debts all at once. Do not hesitate to pay a dollar here and a dollar there. It is remarkable how soon they are cleared up, and we will find we have gained new friends. Or perhaps a bank or other financial institution will lump all your debts together and pay them off, taking your note. By all means pay off this note as rapidly as possible.
It is not so easy with the moral debts. Some of these we can never repay. There is your employer who has given you chance after chance — many more than you actually deserved. It would be well to let him know, not only by word but by deed that you are doing something to solve your drinking problem. He will be skeptical at first, perhaps, but he is going to admire you more and more as time passes.
There are your friends whom you have let down. A few apologies are in order here. There are those you have maligned, ridiculed, or slandered. As you make amends you will find yourself increasing in strength and stature.
Finally there are your dear ones who tried so hard to love you, to help you. How many times have you broken their hearts? How many times have you disappointed them? How many times have you promised to quit drinking, only to break the promise within a few hours or a few days? How many times have you let them down in a crisis? And yet they have stood by you. They have nursed you back to health when the worst thing wrong with you was a bad hangover. They have paid your debts. They have protected your names and reputation. They have fought for you when you could not fight for yourself. They have put up with your lies, your subterfuges, your wanderings into extra-marital excursions, your dishonesties, your vile morning-after disposition. And they still love you.
Here is a debt that cannot be repaid by words — even though you apologize until the very moment of death. This moral debt can never even fully be repaid by deeds. But it can be reduced to a minimum. The history of AA sparkles with families reunited and happily living together. But don’t expect this miracle to happen overnight. Always remember, it took you years to become an alcoholic. Full rehabilitation cannot be expected in a day or a week or a month. The road to rehabilitation is not as long as the road to alcoholism, but neither is it as tough. If you have successfully made the Sixth and Seventh Steps you will fully understand this. Always remember, easy does it. We must take life and its problems a single thing at a time. The longest journey starts with but a single step.
Do not minimize the importance of the Eighth and Ninth Steps. Without having taken them you will never be on firm ground. Having conscientiously taken the, your future is more assured.