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

Step Nine, the last of the action Steps, speaks of making amends, not apologies, to those we have harmed. Apologies only bandage egregious wounds that continue gnawing on illusions until the next blow-up and the next apology.

Amends are different. Only conscious riddance of toxic attitudes and behaviors toward those I have harmed can repair relationships. Amends are not about feeling good afterwards; that may or may not happen. Nor is it about taking others’ inventories, but desire for their well-being is critical.

Here, guidance from my sponsor was helpful: whether I owed an amend in the first place, when and how to phrase the amends, and how to surrender the outcome to Higher Power. Ninth Step work in Alcoholics Anonymous had already resolved many such problems, but in view of my terminal illness I hoped for a cleaner heart.

Prayer accompanied this scrutiny. Again, my character defects brought me to Higher Power’s mercy and the commitment to change, even during my end time.

Amends to my deceased brother Mark flooded my awareness. It was time. In silence, I sat in my wingback chair and invited him to join me. His sweetness prompted my beginning. The clarity of my words scored pride and anger and jealousy upon tablets of stone crumbing at my feet. It was over. Peace reigned.

A later amends to myself followed. Again, in prayer, I reviewed the caricature of my eight-four years of life. Aware of chronic pain and illness, aware of disordered instincts, aware of my pride’s rigidity and resulting ignorance, I made amends, and my birthright took shape in my imagination—it was lovely, but I was not finished.

The need to continue growing spiritually would be addressed in the three remaining maintenance Steps.