Phew! Done with all those amends and it feels so good. So glad I never have to do that again. Wrong. Welcome to Step Ten.
We are human. Getting sober doesn’t mean that we’re going to be perfect. And it certainly doesn’t mean that we’re never going to have to make amends again. This is where Step Ten comes in. We can tackle harms on a case by case basis. Think of it like mowing the lawn every week as opposed to waiting until it’s four feet tall and potentially infested with underfed Rottweilers.
At this point we’re also starting to develop a conscience which is a good thing. In the past we moved through life like a steamroller feeling entitled to our bad behaviors. Now, we’re probably starting to get internal warning signs earlier when we’re getting off track. There are some really good instructions on how to work Step Ten in the Big Book. But basically it’s as simple as when we wake up we ask our Higher Power to help us not be a jerk. And when we’re getting ready for bed we do a little review and see how we did. And then if we feel like we owe any amends we talk about it with someone and take whatever action is appropriate.
There can be a period of overcompensation early on in the amends process. In the past we did whatever we wanted without much consideration of others. Early in recovery there can be a tendency to make too many amends. You might think that you offended someone in your circle of friends. It’s really hanging heavy on you. You talk about it with your sponsor and a few fellows. You set the appointment and make an amends. And then the object of your amends says what the hell are you talking about. Now you feel silly. You didn’t offend them. It was all in your head. This is ok. No one got hurt in this experience. Maybe your ego got a little hurt. But this is a great example of sober reference you now have to approach similar situations in the future. You can ask yourself is this really an amends or is it just me trying to alleviate my own anxiety by making sure I’m “ok” with another person. Tolerating a bit of uncertainty is a good skill for us to have as recovering alcoholics.
Some people do written tenth steps every day. You know how to tell if someone does a written tenth step every day? Don’t worry they’ll tell you. That’s great. And for some people it works like a charm. But do what works for you. And discuss it with your sponsor. The daily practice might be good for you. It might be good for a time to get in the habit. But after that, many people engage in what are called spot check inventories. We’re living the principles on a daily basis hopefully. So the written tenth step might not be necessary.
Ultimately, Step Ten is a maintenance step. It’s a great way to keep our program fresh and our minds clear. It’s a reminder that we don’t have to be perfect and never will be. And it’s a guidepost around which we can point our ongoing recovery.