The Hidden Promises

Following Step 10 in the Big Book, there is another set of promises, which are read less often at meetings. These are glorious promises, directly related to the disease and I have experienced them in all their glory. We call them the “hidden promises” and they are found on page 84 of the Big Book.

These promises have kept me going when I felt sad that the Ninth Step promises or DA promises hadn’t yet materialized, because they occurred for me first.

And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor.
If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame.

Living by my spending plan allows me to let go of sales when I don’t have the money in my category. I am actually amused when I delete the Kohls coupons. Kohls is my favorite store and I do like their coupons when I have enough clothing money to use them. I love the ease with which I can say no to sales now. And it’s only because I live by my spending categories. I know that if I don’t have enough this month, eventually, I will accumulate enough in the category.

Living by my spending plan frees me from the hold sales used to have on me. I now live in reality. Doing so restores me to sanity. I no longer have to obsess over the sale I’m going to miss. Either I have money for the item or not. It’s so clear to me.

Sometimes, I get a tug when it’s a great sale from Jerry’s Artarama. But you know what? I have gone through this for nearly four years and there is always another sale.

More importantly, for today, I don’t buy for the sale. I buy for need and when I have appropriate funds. I do feel a twinge sometimes when I buy right after the sale ends. But I know the danger of the sale mentality for me. it’s the same danger as stocking up at the grocery store when something is on sale. I have experienced this when my husband insisted we do so. Invariably, I’m left short for the current month’s groceries and have to figure out what to do with my sponsor. It’s not worth the angst it causes.

If I feel the compulsion coming on, I talk to my sponsor and do writing around it. The writing in my program is a critical element of being restored to sanity around money!

Further, I now wait at least 24 hours until I purchase an impulse buy, longer if the obsession hasn’t subsided. With my sponsor and PRG’s help, I wait until sanity has returned before purchasing an impulse item. Usually, I no longer want it once the obsession has lifted.

My disease tries to worm its way in there in so many subtle ways:

  1. The sale – I will NEVER be able to get that price again.
  2. Discontinued item – I will NEVER be able to get that product again so I need to stock up.
  3. Price is only good today – OH NO! I will NEVER have this opportunity again.
  4. Medical spending for unproven, expensive treatments
    (relevant to those, like me, who have chronic, invisible illnesses)
    • This one will absolutely cure me
    • I have to do this right now or I will get sicker – this includes deluding ourselves that getting a second mortgage or raiding our savings/retirement for this purpose is not actually debting because there is something to secure it or its our money – even though we know we need to save for the future.
    • I have to sign the contract/pay in full, etc., or they won’t treat me.
    • “Care credit” is not debting (interest-free loan for a certain time period, but you are locked into the agreement even if you decide the treatment is no longer working for you.)
  5. Training program/grad school/spiritual training/coaching program/etc., etc., etc., that costs $500-many many tens of thousands of dollars.
    • But it’s going to give me a career so I will earn back the money. (Never mind that I’ve done no research on it or I have and found that most people barely make money at it or can’t find a job doing it).
    • Forget the fact that I don’t have the cash. Getting an education is a secured loan (denial is NOT a river in Egypt).
    • But if I don’t do this, I’ll always be an underearner. This is my chance to earn what I deserve in this new career.
    • I will never be able to save up the cash to do this. My opportunity is NOW!

Oh boy, even writing all that dredges up so much of my past behavior and justification. I cannot tell you how much money I have wasted over the decades believing all that nonsense. I have used every one of those excuses to compulsively spend (uh, debt). Even in early recovery in DA H.O.W., I am embarrassed to admit that I found ways to justify to my sponsor and PRG team absurd spending using some of those tried and true techniques because I was still lying to myself. As addicts, we can be cunning, baffling, and powerful in the throes of our disease. And we can fool even other addicts if we try hard enough.

The type of spending I am discussing is vastly different from buying something sanely that turns out to be a bad decision. The difference is in the level of obsession and urgency around the the purchase and unwillingness to wait before buying.

But because of this program, and its tools of writing, waiting, and living by my spending plan, one day at a time:

  1. I fall prey to those lies less often and I recoil as from a hot flame when I recognize the obsession coming on.
  2. I no longer try to find ways or excuses to spend my savings.
  3. I have willingness to wait before purchasing if my sponsor or PRG advises me to do so.
  4. I am more often sane around money and spending.
  5. I am sane when I see the word sale.
  6. I recoil when I recognize that I am trying to justify spending when I don’t have the cash available for it and have to manipulate my spending plan in inappropriate ways to buy it.
  7. I am willing to ask for help when in the grips of a purchasing obsession so that I can be restored to my right mind before spending.

We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically.

Again, this occurs more and more for me. But, because I am still a compulsive debtor and spender, there are still moments I revert to old patterns of behavior. But, again, the fact that:

  • I am living within my means.
  • It is easy for me to say no to a sale most of the time.
  • I do not stock up on items just because they are on sale.
  • I am willing to live by my spending plan.
  • I wait until I have the cash for an item.
  • I no longer try to spend my savings.

Tells me that this program works.

We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it.

It is surely not me that is doing this. Left to my own devices, I’d be surrounded by stuff, but have no money for food. And the obsession and craving unleashed would destroy my life. But when I use the tools as DA H.O.W. has taught me, it is truly a miracle that I am able to react as I do so much of the time.

We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation.

That’s true. As I wrote above, I receive sales emails daily and just delete them without even reading them. It is such a relief to me. I can go into a store and just spend what I commit without feeling pain or yearning for other items. I am no longer a slave to whatever shiny object comes in front of me.

We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality – safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.

I am a free person today as long as I do today what I did yesterday to keep me sober with money. For me, that is:

  • Calling my sponsor daily
  • Committing my daily numbers and only spending what I commit
  • Doing my reading and writing
  • Meditating daily
  • Doing a daily 10th Step
  • Making one outreach call daily
  • Going to one DA H.O.W. meeting a week
  • Living by a spending plan that accounts for every dollar in and accrues in categories
  • Having regular PRGs (every couple of months)
  • Only changing my spending plan in concert with my sponsor and PRG team

So, yes, the problem may not exist for today, and I may be safe and protected. And sure, my new attitude may “just come,” but all this only happens if I continue following the spiritual path I have taken in DA H.O.W. As for the “neither cocky nor afraid,” I have found that it is vital to maintain a healthy respect for the disease and to remember what it was like before recovery.

My gratitude for DA H.O.W. and the abundance and freedom it has given me, as I approach my fourth anniversary of solvency, is beyond measure.

But I am not unique. I know many in this program who have had the same experience. The program of DA H.O.W. is freely offered to anyone who wants it. All that is required is the willingness to give it a fair chance. If you do so, you, too, can experience these promises coming true in your life.

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