Anxiety over Amends

Hey y’all.

So for the last 9 months I’ve been doing an AA-style personal recovery program through a local church, working the 12 steps to build a relationship with Christ and to get to the roots of my resentments, fears, and destructive patterns. It has transformed me so much already. When I have negative thoughts or destructive desires, I can identify where they’re coming from and have developed enough awareness to know that they won’t help me. That doesn’t always stop me from giving in, but the mindfulness minimizes how much I get derailed.

Now we’re onto Step 9, which is Making Amends to those I’ve wronged. I’ll be confessing specific harms to the people in my life, past and present. This isn’t reconciliation, I’m not rebuilding relationships with the toxic people from my past (yet), but I am really anxious about sitting down and facing them. Most specifically, I’m anxious about sitting down with my exes and dredging up my part in the things we did to hurt each other. I’m afraid of the pain that may resurface, pain I’ve spent a long time trying to forget. I’m also afraid of some confessions I’ll need to make to my wife that will hurt her and probably damage the trust between us. I addressed those concerns with the program leader, and he said it wouldn’t be easy, it might be messy, but it’s freeing to get it all out.

I keep the Serenity Prayer at the top of my mind every day: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. As far as this goes, I am in control of owning the hurts I’ve caused. I’m not in control of the fallout of those confessions–reactions to and forgiveness of my confessions is up to the individuals, and I’ve made peace with that. What I’m unsure about now is the fear of the interactions themselves and the painful associations with these people.

All this anxiety is distracting me from day to day. I’m feeling distracted, insecure, and short tempered. I’m also feeling urges to drink, smoke, sleep life away, fall back into the comfort of my depression, and give into lust in a variety of ways. In the context of the work I’ve done these past 9 months, it feels like my body and soul are resisting the idea of facing people who have hurt me and confessing my part of the transactions. I’ve been working on forgiveness in Step 8, and I think I’ve let go of all the harms against me, but I haven’t been able to let go of the pain. What it really comes down to is I’m afraid to feel my feelings.

I know God will get me through this. As long as I’m breathing, God is providing. He never promised it would be easy though. He never promised fairytale endings free of consequences, and he never promised that I wouldn’t feel emotional pain. The best thing I can do now is pray for the strength to get through it, but I’m really apprehensive right now, and it’s manifesting in self-destructive urges and thought patterns.


Hi friend - do you have a sponsor? It sounds like you are moving through the steps very fast and the 9th step is a tough one. Many people will work the 9th step slowly with their sponsor and very slowly meet (when possible) face to face with people.

I admire your courage and bravery in tackling the steps. That is such meaningful work and is super tough. Try not to rip the bandaid off too quickly as it can be too painful and traumatic I think.

You’ll be in my prayers and thoughts - be well. Eve.


Thank you. That means a lot right now.

I have a “mentor.” I have very few non-family Christian men in my life, so I picked the guy who led our group in a premarital workshop. The program encourages us to lean heavily into our mentors. On the one hand, it’s easy to tell him about my past because we don’t have much of a relationship, so our interactions are low-stakes. On the other hand, I don’t have any bond or trust with him, so I don’t feel comfortable really opening up to him.

As for the timetable, this is a year-long step program. If I understand correctly, AA is more or less self-paced; this is not. The longest allotment of time for a step was 6 weeks for Inventory, including 2 weeks of guiding bookwork. It’s been an exhausting process, but I want to see it though.

I’m a couple weeks behind the curriculum. I think everyone in our group is, and we’ve voiced that, but our leaders are marching right along and “encouraging us to just keep catching up.” I’m still working through Forgiveness (which we got 2 weeks for), and I’m trying to juggle that while keeping an eye on where I’m supposed to be in Amends (3 weeks). They told us it’s unreasonable to make every amend in 3 weeks, so our goal is to do it with one person.

Now that I read through their “goal” for us, it seems a little less daunting; but I want to make my amends plans while I’m in this mindset instead of trying to do it “later,” and it’s still a hell of a task.


Hey there. I’m reading the above comment about the sponsor and I absolutely second that. Sponsors are incredibly important. This is such a tough step to get through, because of the anxiety you’re feeling about bringing up painful things and dealing with them. Making amends is taking a leap of faith because of the fact that we don’t know how people will respond to what we have to say. But what is extremely important to understand about this is that YOU are taking an incredible step in your life to right your wrongs, and you are NOT responsible for how people respond to it. The hard thing to accept is that some people won’t be ready to forgive, but you are exceeding in your program and in your recovery by doing this. This is HUGE. you have my full support and I am rooting for you!


Encouraging you to keep up and catch up is great, but the 9th step also reminds us to pump the breaks when there may be injury. And that includes to ourselves. I’m not saying slow down but I do hear you saying you’re dealing with dangerous urges and patterns that are surfacing amid this and you want to stay away from this process injuring your recovery. Not telling you what to do though - just feeling concerned for a fellow traveler along the journey. Keeping you in prayer.

Saw your other post about not recommending HS to people b/c of the privacy and I’m right there with you. And I think that’s OK. I am so intensely private that I would never tell IRL friends about it and honestly even though I have different usernames in different communities, I hesitate to suggest HS to them as well. Eh, does sound selfish now that I spell it all out. Maybe I’ll grow to being more open about my struggles in a less anonymous setting.


Ever since my brother got clean and started thriving, I’ve wanted to do step work to get over my own hangups, but I didn’t know of any programs like that for people without addictions. This one just kind of landed in my lap. It’s great (one of the guys in my group says it’s a good, deeper cut into the paths he took in AA), but it’s also unique to this church (which isn’t the church I regularly attend), and things like the relentless schedule and nuances specific to this church have been off-putting.

Since starting this program, I found out about a nationwide 12 step program called Celebrate Recovery. I may run through that in a couple years and see if it’s any easier to process.

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