Part 2: Depriver or Spender

Letting Go

I feel tremendous guilt that my son has had to take student loans for living expenses in his Junior and Senior years, because I had promised him that I would pay for college. But I never anticipated going on disability. And I was full-blown in my addiction at the time of the promise.

Over the course of years being on disability while in DA, my PRG team has pounded into my head the importance of my not neglecting my own needs for his. It is painful when I think about discretionary money that I use for myself that could go to him. But they have convinced me that if I live in deprivation, then I will revert to my addiction. And they are right.

For me, this program is about trusting a Higher Power and letting go of control. If I am unwilling to let go of doing things my way, then why am I here? It seems disrespectful of the time and energy given to me by my sponsor and PRG team if I refuse to take direction … or even try something new that may take me out of my comfort zone.

As it says on page 59 of the Big Book:

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon. Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery.

I believe this is as true for my DA program as for Alcoholics Anonymous. Either I trust or I don’t. If I do, then I don’t let my emotions keep me from taking the next right action.

How This Can Work for a “Depriver”

I have watched the remarkable spiritual growth of a DA member who has difficulty spending money. I have been on this person’s PRG team for nearly two years. It took a lot of willingness for her to finally buy the clothing she desperately needed for work. Gradually, she started spending money in her other categories as well. Eventually, as her life blossomed, she saw clearly that taking the leap of faith to follow direction directly contributed to the astounding abundance that followed in both work and relationships.

Now, she has the experience to know that her spending plan is balanced and appropriately spends from her categories as the need arises, with far less discomfort. In my opinion, that is yet another promise of working this program … that we will be more comfortable living in recovery.

When is Enough Enough?

For me, who never feels like any amount is sufficient for my needs, I still struggle with discomfort around discretionary spending too often. But it is mostly in my mind, because I am able to get what I need more often than not.

As an example, I was completing an art piece I am giving as a gift and ran out of ink in my brush pen. I was desolate because I didn’t have the $2.50 in my Discretionary category to buy another. I wailed and moaned in my daily writing. And the next morning, as I began my mini-tantrum around my pitiful plight, my sponsor interrupted me, saying, “This is a gift, so why not use gift money to get the brush pen?”

Oh, well, that shut me up. I hadn’t even thought about that as an option. And she reminded me that the spending plan is not a noose around my neck, but a guide to ensure that I don’t spend more money than I have.

There is Always “Another Meal”

But what I really need to remember, as with the analogy of the food, where I know that another meal is coming, is that if I have used up my discretionary money this month, next month is sure to arrive eventually.

Embrace Your Spending Plan

For today, whether you tend toward deprivation or overspending:

  • If you have a spending plan, trust it and live by it.
  • If you don’t yet have a spending plan, work on getting one with a PRG team.
  • If your spending plan is out of balance or you feel that you are manipulating it, have a PRG to help you revise it. In fact having an annual PRG review of your spending plan is a great idea.
  • If you don’t trust your PRG team, get another one. But be sure that you are doing so for valid reasons, and not just because you want to continue trying to do things your way. DA recovery isn’t always comfortable.

The spending plan is the tool by which we live in balance with money on a physical level and can provide much-needed relief if you can accept the limitations it creates as well as the freedom it provides.

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2 thoughts on “Part 2: Depriver or Spender

  1. I want to thank you first of all for your wonderful Blog. It is inspirational! I wanted to let you know that although I was never promised anything in terms of financial support for college by my parents. even though my dad was an MD, I survived undergrad and graduate school nonetheless. I took out student loans and earned my BS and MS at Hunter College in NYC. Even though it wasn’t an Ivy League school, it was a good education that I was given, and I learned the value in paying back a debt for something irreplaceable that I received. AND it taught me independence, for I accomplished it n my own. Thanks for the Blog you offer!
    JD

    • Thank you for your lovely, reassuring comment. I have heard this as well from others who found paying off a student loan a good lesson. I really appreciate your taking the time to comment.

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