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raum's avatar

What is the best way to respond to someone in a twelve step program?

Asked by raum (8832points) 1 month ago from iPhone

Just received an apology out of the blue about stuff that happened years ago.

I’m assuming they are on step nine of a twelve step program.

What is the best way to respond to this?

Particularly interested in responses from the other side of this. What would you have wanted or needed while going through step nine?

For those who haven’t been through a twelve step program, what would you want or expect when offering an apology?

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15 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I have been sober 22 years. I worked the steps and did amends in step 9.

I only wanted to know that the other person heard me and told me honestly how they felt. If I was forgiven, great! If the other person wished to never see me again, then that was what I was willing to do on my side.

We do amends for ourselves. We don’t do it for the benefit of the person receiving the amends. We must do them in order to remain sober, get better, and live a free life.

The vast majority of the people I approached forgave me, and a few told me not to do it again. I haven’t.

zenvelo's avatar

At the conclusion of the person’s amends to you, just be honest in how it makes you feel now, and how you felt in the past. You don’t owe the person anything, and the only thing really hoped for is repair of whatever relationship there was years ago.

The purpose of Step Nine is to clean up one’s past by owning responsibility for past behavior. It is not meant to make the recovering person feel better about themselves nor is it seeking a pat on the back. That comes naturally in due time to someone recovering through being of service.

raum's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Congratulations on 22 years sober. That’s a big deal!

@Hawaii_Jake and @zenvelo
You both mention the person telling you how it made them feel. I was thinking something along those lines.

Though I’m also working on things in therapy. And one of the things I’m working on is not responding to people in a way that opens up dialogue (if I don’t have the energy for that dialogue).

But I also feel like making amends is a huge step. And I want to validate that in some way.

And also the idea of forgiveness. I don’t not forgive them. But I’m not sure I forgive them either. It just is what it is? Which kind of feels like a cop out response on my part. :/

I do wish them the best though.

raum's avatar

I dunno. I keep writing and erasing a response.

janbb's avatar

@raum I haven’t been on the giving or receiving of amends in a Twelve Step program so my advice may not be valid. But I have been in communication with people who hurt me and with people whom I’ve hurt.

When I’ve been doing hard work with my son, we’ve both said, “Ok. I need time to process that.”

(By the way, I have never forgiven the person who hurt me the most.)

You say you don’t want to start a dialogue so you may not want to say that. But you might say something along the lines of, “I accept what you say as valid for you now.”

(By the way, I have never forgiven the person who hurt me the most.)

anniereborn's avatar

I have never been on the giving or receiving end of this particular situation. But I have been on the receiving end of a half assed apology from someone who abused me. So I think part of it would have to do with the way they do it and the sincerity you feel. Do not acquiesce.
If you feel it was heart felt but do not feel forgiving at that time, maybe just a “thank you for saying that” would work.

raum's avatar

@janbb It’s just tricky because I don’t want to open up lines of communication. But I also want to acknowledge the work that they’re doing.

Is it weird if I just outright say that?

@anniereborn Ugh. I’m sorry you had to deal with that. A half-assed apology is worse than no apology at all. And from someone’s that abused you, no less. It makes me angry for you just reading that. There’s definitely someplace dark they can shove that apology.

@ALL Maybe “Thank you for saying that. Reaching out to people after all of these years can’t be easy. Your words were a surprise, but appreciated. I hope you are doing well. And I wish you the best.”?

(Argh…does that sound too generic?)

anniereborn's avatar

@raum I think it sounds just fine.

janbb's avatar

Sounds good to me.

Inspired_2write's avatar

I find that not responding in severe cases works best for me.

I have found peace and happiness without the drama.

Live and let live my motto now.
People are responsible for there own actions, I am not their parent to teach them late in life.

kritiper's avatar

First of all, I complimented the guy on how he normally handled things, and told him how great it was to work with someone like him. Then I reminded him of what happened, that he was wrong to assume I was the bad guy, and told him how and why it was himself that screwed the whole thing up, and that, in actuality, I had nothing to do with it, contrary to what everyone thought. (It felt SO GOOD to get that off my chest after so many years!)

Dutchess_III's avatar

My sister claims to have completed the 12 step program but she conveniently skipped step 9. And that girl needed to make amends!

To answer your Q, are those things you can forgive him for? If so, let him know. If not, don’t say anything.

raum's avatar

@anniereborn and @janbb Thanks. I appreciate the sounding board. :)

@Inspired_2write It’s tempting to not respond. Why reopen stuff from so many years ago, right? Though I think if they are going through a 12-step program, I don’t want to discourage them. :/

@kritiper The guy was trying to make amends?

@Dutchess_III Hope you and your sister can get to a healthier place.

kritiper's avatar

@raum No, the guy never tried or offered to make amends. There was another who knowingly withheld information that would have cleared the whole thing up. The guy I mentioned should have brought the matter to my attention when it occurred, but through his own innate ignorance, didn’t, so it wasn’t entirely his fault. But he was my immediate supervisor, so the responsibility was his.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@raum…that was in the 80s. I just shrugged it all off. She’s just really hard to get along with.

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