Clean Sl8

Used 2013-02-20 A Slate to be Clean (Al K Hall Anonymous recovery sobriety)

A Slate to be Clean

i’ve mentioned i’m now in Step 8 [“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all”] of the 12 Steps, getting ready for Step 9. Reliving my past errors is harrowing at times—i’ve noticed that when i recall the disasters i’ve created in my life i feel the shame flare up and burn through me like a flash fire—but knowing i’m making amends for them soothes me like a balm and i feel purified when all is said and well-done.

Another beneficial aspect of Steps 8 & 9 is that these are the first steps of the 12 that involve other people. Steps 1-7 are all about working on myself from the inside, while now i need to take this work and focus it outward, on my relation with others.

Let me tell you, this step could not come soon enough.

Like many alcoholics, i imagine, i’m pathologically shy. Alcohol was a way for me to overcome this fear of talking to people and it even worked for a certain time (usually the first bottle of wine). Now, by razing my past, by Cleaning my Slate, i’m removing any need i have to feel inferior, to feel “less than”, in my social interactions. Hopefully, this will help me to me more secure and “right-sized” when i continue my interactions with others.


About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home.

Posted on February 20, 2013, in AA Step Work, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I’d never considered that Step 8 could be a way to move outside of one’s shyness and begin to be more confident socially. That’s a wonderfully positive way to look at it.

    • Thanks Luddy!

      Steps 8 & 9, for all of their intensity, are incredibly liberating. It’s cliche but that doesn’t make it any less appropriate: No pain, no gain!

      Thank you for your support, my friend,

      Al K Hall

  2. Believe or not I haven’t done my 8th and 9th yet, (almost 5 years sober) I seem to have a complete block, I cringe, I am terrified! I’ve been ok with looking at myself, have done 4 four steps, but I get stuck on 8 and 9. I think it’s my damn ego still in my way! But I got to do it, I got to do it before next anniversary. I know I am now ready for the next level, or well, I need to get this done, it’s time…

    • Hi NSL!

      i’ve been in the program for a little over 2 years and still haven’t finished, so i think it’s not how fast you do them but how well. i’m not really in a place to be making suggestions, as i’m only doing the step now myself, but i found it useful to clearly separate Steps 8 & 9. Not even thinking about Step 9, my sponsor told me to write a list of the people i’d harmed in my drinking life and that was all. It was similar in fact to a Step 4, thoguh more focused outside of me than inside, as was the case with Step 45. After, we went through my list together and he told me what amends i needed to make, which amends i didn’t, and we tried to find patterns. (For example, i tended to get angry and abuse verbally when i was drunk.) Then, after a couple weeks of revising the list, at our last meeting he told me to write a plan of when and how i could physically make the amends, and soon he’ll give me tips on how to make them.

      It’s a process, but if you take it one baby step at a time, i think you’ll find it’s not as difficult as it seems when we’re standing outside it and looking in.

      Be well and be brave!

      Keep coming back,

      AL K Hall

  3. I wanted to “brush up” on my understanding of Step 9, so I went here:

    The word that kept jumping out at me was “direct amends.” So yes, I can see how this could be a real tool to overcome shame and shyness, and find the “right-sized” self in everything. To be direct, you have to put aside the shyness, which is a kind of shrinking into the self for fear of something. I bet you will really find the brave side of yourself, and surprise yourself at just how much you are able to accomplish with this step.

    It is pretty cool how the steps scaffold on one another.

    Best as you go through this. Something else at the link jumped at me, too: “Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience, we ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be. We may lose our position or reputation or face jail, but we are willing. We have to be. We must not shrink at anything.” (Big Book page 79)

    I know you will find the strength to pass this particular path, because look at how far you have come already! You will find the strength to not shrink at anything: shame, shyness — whatever holds you back.

    It will be really cool to see what comes out in these posts as you walk this step!

    • Hi Babe!

      Thanks for the words of support. It’s true that this is a very daunting step to take, but i have a big help in this because i’m doing it with my sponsor. His experience with the step and guidance are crucial to me so that i know who to make amends to, but also why i need to do it. Not to mention, when i need to do it, where i need to do it, and even how i need to do it. And who better to guide me through this than the man who knows all of my deepest darkest secrets from Step 5!? The steps really are, literally, divine.

      Again, thanks for the vote of confidence!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  4. Thanks Celeste and Al! Great feedback. I am doing this with my new sponsor too so hopefully this time will be it! I’ll have to read up on pg 79. That sound like just what i needed to hear. thanks again!

  5. Funny, I recently told a sponsee the same advice you were given – just write the list and forget that about step 9. Just make the list. Now, the most important word or thing in that step 8 is “willing”. That’s all it is. When I found myself balking at doing an amend, it wasn’t a step 9 problem, it was a step 8 problem. I stopped being willing. So I prayed for willingness and got my ass back out there. I have just a few amends left, and have been having a step 8 problem again. So I am praying. And I know it’s go time soon to finish off the last few. But I will tell you, that willingness is something that fuels me…gets me out there knocking on doors and ringing doorbells.

    You are right about it cleaning the slate – I can’t tell you the freedom I have been given by sitting down, eyeball to eyeball and making those amends. The clarity and relief that comes with each passing amend is amazing.

    It’s a wonderful thing…this is really where rubber hits the road…don’t miss out. I have to take my own advice and follow through as well. I am glad you wrote about this.



    P.S I am painfully shy at times too…but this really opened my up.

    • Willingness! Reminds me of the lesson i learned in Step 6 (“Were entirely ready to have God remove our shortcomings.”): being willing means taking action to prove how willing i am.

      Thanks for your astute comments, Paul. i’m grateful for how on point and hopeful your thoughts always are!

      Keep coming back, brother,

      Al K Hall

  6. I did consider myself pathologically shy at times before…now not so much. Interesting how taking away that crutch took away the need for it. I like how you broke down the steps between internal work and that which involves others. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. Great post!

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