We are continuing with a discussion of the DA Promises.
3. We will live within our means, yet our means will not define us.
Ah, this one is crucial to my serenity. Not comparing myself to others shifted for me with recovery. Ironically, when I was a “big spender,” throwing money around for gifts, dinners, etc., I was never jealous of others. I lived in delusion. It wasn’t that I was trying to fool others. It was that I believed the lie that I had lots of money. In truth, it wasn’t really mine at all, but the credit card companies’.
But in recovery, the blunt truth of my financial limits were clear. And then, the pain came when I couldn’t buy the expensive gift (or sometimes any gift) for a relative in the hospital or when I couldn’t pick up the tab for dinner.
That’s when I began to wriggle uncomfortably in what I thought were the shackles of recovery. I started to compare my situation with that of my brother, who doesn’t have to think twice about buying a car, much less dinner. And I sat in self-pity thinking about my having to wait a month sometimes to buy an art pen because I used up my paltry discretionary money on the first of the current month.
But the thing is, my brother made sound financial and other life choices, one after another, since he was a young man. I, on the other hand, went down the path of self-destruction because I was an addict in full-blown insanity.
I learned that it was ridiculous to compare myself to others because I don’t know the truth of their situation. Because I no longer incur unsecured debt, I am free in a way that too many are not. Many have the trappings of wealth, but just like me in my addiction, it’s all smoke and mirrors. They are really just slaves to their credit cards and “stuff,” living way beyond their means, with the crushing pressure that can put on even the healthiest among us.
Today, I am relieved that I don’t have to live that way. Now, most of the time, I cherish my limits because the gifts I receive by doing so far outweigh any material belongings I might accrue otherwise. Because I have a spending plan that works for me, I can save for items I want. I don’t just feed the craving monster any time it demands food any longer. And there is far more peace that way.
4. We will begin to live a prosperous life, unencumbered by fear, worry, resentment or debt.
Following along with the previous promise, by living within our means, we see that prosperity is not always measured by income. For instance, I receive disability insurance, which is a miracle because I am unable to work at this time. I live in a beautiful house my husband bought. Because I am unable to drive much, I am blessed that my husband is willing to take me where I need to go. My creativity has flourished and the art that I do is extremely inexpensive to maintain as a hobby.
As we proceed on the path of recovery, we discover that we don’t have to feel inferior to others because of money or status, even if others treat us as if we are. We become grateful for all that we do have, no matter how modest, and stop comparing ourselves. It’s a pointless exercise that can only cause us pain.
If you need more convincing, the fact is, all of us eventually die no matter how wealthy and powerful we think we are in this life. So in the end, each of us leaves this world an equal in all ways. Now, when I get into fear, worry, or resentment (or jealousy or comparison), I can use the tools of my program to help me live in acceptance and find gratitude in my life.
It is interesting that these promises deal with the physical aspect of our disease. But I want to mention the other types of miracles that happen when we are in recovery. For many, by working this program and using all the tools, such as writing, reading, phone calls, and keeping numbers, incredible changes occur in many areas of their lives. People are able to find jobs and careers they love for which they are paid appropriately, create loving relationships, maybe for the first time, and see their income rise.
My path has been different, but no less stunning. I live comfortably and have been graced by having a partner who provides for me in so many ways I could not do for myself, including the fact that he is a role model for living within one’s means. I am grateful for the creativity I have tapped into since my illness, which is the most fulfilling I’ve ever experienced and which makes me happier than all the work I did previously where my only goal was to get noticed and rich.
I have enough. I know that excess gets me into trouble, whether it’s money, material things, or emotions. Because of recovery, I have redefined “prosperity.” Today, I know that prosperity is not about cash. I have abundance in ways that matter to me – my spiritual program, creativity, relationships, and service.
For today, if you are in self-pity about your financial or job situation, think of ways you are prosperous and fulfilled that have nothing to do with money. If you can’t find any, think about being open to one or more of these ideas:
- Find some activity or hobby that brings you joy (e.g., cooking, drawing, bird watching, gardening, playing an instrument, writing poetry)
- Help someone else using a skill you have, or make a program outreach call to a newcomer to give service
- Nurture a relationship you currently have by spending some quality time together