Part 1: The DA Promises

DA has its own set of promises, so we can gratefully look forward to even more benefits of working our program. I’m going to break up the discussion of the DA Promises into smaller segments than the Big Book Promises (which was one giant post).

1. Where once we felt despair, we will experience a new-found hope.

By the time most of us get willing to work the DA program, our despair has infiltrated every part of our lives. We are hopeless, not just about getting out of debt or stopping the compulsive spending, but we see no way out of the black hole into which our addiction has tossed us regarding our relationships, work, in fact, our enjoyment of anything anymore.

For some of us, it takes quite awhile to get to any sense of hope. We may be drowning in fear and panic. But eventually, everyone who works this program diligently experiences this “new-found hope.” Even if your worst fears come true (e.g., foreclosure, losing a job), this program gives you tools to deal with any eventuality with grace and sobriety.

How can you not begin to feel hopeful as you learn to live within your means and stop debting? Even if you are not where you want to be, you have, at least, seen some improvement. Despite setbacks, you can stay abstinent or continue to work your program until you can be abstinent again.

Only those who give up, or who use adversity or craving as an excuse to leave program don’t experience this promise.

2. Clarity will replace vagueness; we will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us.

I love the clarity I have in this program. Vagueness, just as addiction, deludes me with false reassurance and soothing denial, but is, in fact, a wicked part of my disease.

A DA member who was struggling with finding the right balance of detail in her spending plan said that 90% clarity was good enough. But I can say with tremendous gratitude that I have 100% clarity around my numbers today. That is a strong, but true, statement. That member ended up finding a way that worked and is very grateful she did the work to get there.

Intuition based on clarity

As for intuitively knowing how to handle situations that used to baffle me, I’m still not always on target with that, but because of clarity, I don’t have to guess as often.

This program teaches me how to be clear in all areas of my life, including relationships. My husband and I split expenses and I am now very clear on what I can and cannot purchase. But here’s an example of where intuitively knowing comes in. The other day, I sent him to the store to buy committed house supplies of paper towels. I told him not to spend over $10.

Guess what? He came home proudly telling me that the paper towels were on sale so he bought two of them. This put me over my $10 limit. Aside from everything else, for today, I don’t overspend to get “the deal.”

Now, please note that I am allowed a $5 overage, but even if it had gone over that, my sponsor and I are in agreement that if our partners overspend, that is not our fault. So there was no real harm to my program.

Yet I spoke up and said that this was not OK and reiterated how I work my spending plan. Though I was respectful, but firm, he was still peeved at my lack of understanding that it was “a deal.”

In the past, I would have gotten crazy and gone off on him, leading to a fight of epic proportions and not speaking for hours, if not days. But because of this program, I was better able to handle the situation without bringing out nuclear weapons. The point is that I took care of being clear on my needs. What he does about it is nothing I can control.

Not Knowing is No Excuse

On the other hand, it wasn’t so long ago that I was completely vague about how much I needed to save for income tax. In a discussion with a member of my PRG team, I said I assumed I’d just take savings for what I needed to pay and made a wild guess as to how much I would owe. BIG RED FLAG!

We then made a category for taxes and, as directed, I did the annoyingly painstaking work of figuring out a general idea of what my tax liability would be in a worst case scenario for this year and next year. There was no way to be precise, but there was certainly somewhere in-between precision and chaos.

You might ask – what is the difference between having a category or just taking it from savings? The money still comes out of your bank account.

The difference is that to stay in recovery, I need to do my best to plan for spending. Vagueness leads me to fear, anxiety, and panic. Vagueness leads to more vagueness which could lead me back to debting.

Ironically, it turned out to be far less than I anticipated. And I am relieved that I have a handle on it for today. When I am clear, it is far easier to hear Divine guidance. And when I am willing to ask for help in program, that guidance may come through others.

Clarity in Action

Here is what I did today regarding clarity:

  1. Called my health insurance provider to see if I can submit my eye exam for reimbursement. The doctor’s office said that they simply give a discount. But I still paid $115! In the past, I would have just let it go, but because I called, I discovered that I can submit the itemized bill for a 50% direct reimbursement.
  2. Emailed my doctor about a letter she wrote that I haven’t yet received as part of my appeal of a denied claim. It’s been a month and I only have 60 days so I need to continue to pursue getting the letter. This claim is for $525.
  3. Got a replacement credit card in the mail for an account that I thought I had canceled years ago. I called today to ensure they close the account.
  4. I called to get pricing on an art product I will be ordering. Even though I had a price from two months ago, I want to get clear on shipping and exact price now before I order it on Friday.

Here are some other ways I practice clarity with my numbers:

  1. I count my change weekly to be sure I know what I have. For some reason, change has a bizarre magical quality. Some weeks I have more than I thought, some weeks less. I accept that I don’t have this perfectly under control and even have a “lost and found” category for just this purpose.
  2. I reconcile my YNAB with my bank accounts.
  3. I keep track of how much I still owe on my debts. Seeing that number come down is a great joy.
  4. I check my bank accounts nearly daily to ensure there is nothing out of line.

Other Areas in Which We Can Gain Clarity

There are many ways we stay in vagueness that we can change. Here are just a few examples:

  • If you are self-employed, ensure that you have a clear agreement on your fee before starting the work.
  • Get clear on how much your doctor visit, lab test, specialist, etc., will cost before you go.
  • Find out all costs before hiring a handyman, landscaper, etc.

For today, think about how you practice clarity in your program. If there is any area of vagueness, make an action plan to find out the information you need.

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