Someone recently asked me if it is considered debting in DA HOW if you are at the grocery store and spend more than you committed, but call your sponsor as soon as you get home to let her know.
To find an answer, I just read through What is DA HOW, The HOW Concept, and Reflections for the Newcomer. None of them directly address this issue. The closest I could come was this quote: “If the newcomer insists on debting before picking up the telephone, there is a breakdown in the level of communication between the sponsor and the newcomer.” From Reflections for the Newcomer
So I can only give my opinion and experience. If you have money available in a category, spending more than you have committed, but not more than is available, is not a debt by any means.
DA HOW Standards
However, in DA HOW, we are committed to always committing what we will spend BEFORE we spend it. Always. So taking this action is definitely a slip by DA HOW standards as far as my own way of working DA HOW is concerned.
To me, the only exception is if it is a mistake, an unintentional act. For instance, if I think I committed more than I had and didn’t discover the error until I got home. Or if the spending was urgent (e.g., medical) and the person left their phone at home or it was dead and there was no option to contact the sponsor and the spending couldn’t wait.
In these cases, contacting the sponsor as soon as the mistake is discovered or a phone is available is doing the best one can. I, personally, would not wait until the next day. For me, letting my sponsor know as soon as possible has to do with humility, honesty, and clarity.
Willingness to Go to Any Length
But, and I can only speak for myself, if I knowingly spend more than the five dollar overage (which always has made me uncomfortable) without first making the call, then I consider that a slip. It is the lack of humility that is the issue for me. Trying to take control. If I am committed to not spending before telling a sponsor, and I do so anyway, then I have taken back my will. And that is the first step toward full-blown relapse.
It is a dangerous place for me to be. If I do it once, I am likely to do it again. And eventually, I will debt. That is why I love the high bottom of DA HOW. I am stopped in my tracks to review the truth, to stay in clarity and out of delusion, way before I debt.
I have often been in the grocery store and looked at my cart before even getting in the checkout line and contacted my sponsor to increase my grocery spending. Better to overestimate than underestimate and face the embarrassment of asking the cashier to remove items (I have done that) or keeping a line of people waiting while I contact my sponsor in the line (I have done that too).
Assessing Commitment to Working DA HOW
But my commitment to working the tools of DA as we do in HOW is equal to the depths my disease will take me if I don’t. So is it a debt?
To me, no, not a debt. But a definite slip in DA HOW and worthy of my having the humility to start over and let go of my sponsees for 30 days while I do the recommitment questions.
For me, better to do that than to chance a slide back into the life I used to have as an active compulsive debtor. If that is not my truth, then why am I working the DA HOW program in the first place?