Missed the point on making amends
Dear Annie: About the recent note from “I Am No. 1 Again,” which concerned the ninth step of Alcoholics Anonymous (making amends):
In 1987, my brother joined AA and religiously went to meetings (he still does) and followed the 12-step program. When he got to the ninth step, he personally apologized to me for having had a many-months-long affair with my wife. He then told me how much better he felt after having apologized to me for this, even though I had no idea whatsoever of this affair and felt devastated and eventually got divorced the following year.
I would have felt a lot better not ever knowing about this, but he fulfilled his mission and is satisfied.
Maybe AA should stipulate that nobody apologize for something that the person he wronged has no knowledge of. — No Name, Please
Dear No Name: The ninth step does include the sort of stipulation you’re talking about. It reads: “(Make) direct amends to such people, wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” Your brother missed the point if he thought it was all about selfishly unloading his guilt.
If you’ve never tried Al-Anon, consider attending a meeting. It might help unpack some of the baggage that you’re most likely still carrying from having a loved one with alcoholism.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.