I’ve been working through Step 9 over the past week and I can feel the co-dependent urge to want to make others feel better through my amends, which is of course not the point of Step 9 at all. Step 9 is about cleaning up ‘my side of the street’ by making things right through owning my sin. Step 9 is NOT about cleaning up ‘both sides of the street’. It is not about making things right by doing whatever it takes to make other people feel OK about my sin. If that were the goal of Step 9 my work would never be done because others would never feel ‘whole’ as long as I was trying to manage their emotions. That’s another thing Step 9 is not: It is not an opportunity for my controlling nature to take over and manage how other people think or feel.
As a byproduct of Step 9 I am beginning to sense where I ‘end’ and where the rest of the world ‘begins’. In my old, co-dependent view of the world there are spider webs of emotion connecting me to everyone else around me. For example, if my wife is angry, the thread connecting her and I starts vibrating and soon I am angry, too. Then I try to make her feel better so that I can again feel OK.
In my new and emerging view of the world (and this is difficult to describe) it is as if the thread connecting my wife and I passes through a ‘glass wall’. This wall filters my wife’s emotions before they get to me. It also provides a clear line of demarcation between my wife and I; it separates our personhoods so that it is easier to feel and understand that she and I are different people and can exist in different emotional states simultaneously. Thus I am becoming my own person by eliminating co-dependency through Step 9!