Step Nine – John’s Experience

Step Nine 

April 9 2006, Rock Bottom Again! Three month earlier I made the decision to sort out my drinking, usual route, doctor, drop in centre and of course counselling. Unanimous verdict rehab. How had I got here?

My drinking career started around the age of fourteen, it changed my life. From a shy non mixer I became popular, funny to be with, plus a new found confidence. I left school, got a job, a girl and drank. Around the age of 20 I was doing well, 2 cars, good job and a fiancé but I was now drinking everyday. The catering trade is well known for heavy drinking and I was no exception. As the years went by I continued to work hard and play hard and my drinking increased. I knew, I had a problem but nobody took any notice so nor did I. Three lost jobs in rapid succession, perhaps my problem was more serious than I thought.

A lot of alcoholics move to another place, I changed career and worked in my fathers estate agency which work for a while but inevitably I began to drink, at first at lunch and then during work, I was drink driving and started to have a morning drink, eventually it all got to much for me and I ran away for 4 days. When I returned my father dismissed me and my wife told me to seek help.

I went to my doctor who put me on anti depressants. At this time July 2000 my mother said I should attend an AA meeting so with my step father I attended my first meeting. After this I stated to go regularly to Road to Recovery, where I got a sponsor, a big book and some suggestions to do. I read my book, phoned my sponsor and sometimes did my suggestions but I had stopped drinking. I muddled through my program and got to step 4 where I faltered, I kept going to meetings and after 12 months I was cured and stopped AA.

I remained sober for another year but the day came when I took that first drink. Apart from a 3 month AA period the next 4 years demonstrated the progressive nature of this illness ending Sunday April 9 2006 in a heap on the street being picked up by my mum. On Monday I got hold of my old sponsor who agreed to re-sponsor me and started going back to meetings. I was in no doubt this time, I had step 1 and understood fully that I must be prepared to go to any lengths. Steps 2 and 3 came very quickly and then I was told to start my 4th step. Having been reminded that this was where I failed last time.

There was a big difference in my approach to AA and I was aware that my belief in God and the step 3 prayers had a profound effect on me. I completed my step 4 in 2 weeks and a week later I shared it with my sponsor. I had done step 5 and it felt great, far from any feelings of shame or embarrassment I knew I had emptied the darkness of my past and the future held bright for me.

Step 8. List all the people I had harmed and become willing to make amends to them all. This was for me a step that would be the most thought provoking, putting myself in their place, trying to understand how they felt, people I loved and people who loved me. Using my step 4 I produced my list of people, this took some time as I was encouraged by my sponsor to keep checking it and to my surprise I came up with quite a few more, the benefits of a thorough sponsor well demonstrated. Now I was ready to embark on step 9.

Where do I start? I enquired of my sponsor. With your wife and then your family. Make 2 amends this week tell me on Friday. Read your book , so off I went. I talked to my wife first the initially I was embarrassed but that soon passed and we talked about the past and I felt that progress was being made. There was a lot to talk about and I believe that she now has a better understanding of me and what AA is about, like a lot of new AA partners. She has now been to an open meeting and hopefully will attend more.

The next on my list was my mother so I phoned her to sort out meeting her, the conversation started with general chat and before I knew it we got on to talking at great length about my making amends. Although I had not intended to do this over the phone we both found it a very moving and spiritual experience and it has definitely given us a greater understanding of each other. When we finished the call we were both very emotional and this was when I filled with an overwhelming feeling of well being.

I felt my life was worth something for the first time. Every word I had heard in meeting and everything I had read in the big book was true. I never thought I would say it but it was mind blowing. The next day I saw my sponsor and told him of my experience he told me that I had been restored to sanity and to carry on with my amends. Since then I have made amends to my oldest daughter and currently am trying to track down one of my friends who knows what I want to do but for various reasons keeps postponing. I won’t give up. Doing step nine has been a life changing experience. It may take a long time to complete this step but every amends that I make takes me further spiritually. I did not realise it but I began making amends the minute I came back to AA. The path to step twelve is full of them.

                                                                         John M,  Plymouth