[Note: This post is derived from my podcast, “I Can’t Stop Spending!” where I talk about why I need to pause production on the podcast. In this post, I also talk about issues around recovery work and Tradition 11, anonymity, underearning, and more. Click here if you would like to listen.]I began my current recovery from compulsive spending on April 25th 2009. In 2012, I started blogging about my journey to help other compulsive spenders and debtors. The tool of spending plan has been a cherished spiritual weapon in keeping the demons at bay and I loved writing about how to use that tool.
It felt like my life’s mission was to spread the message of hope and practical action around recovery from compulsive spending to those in and out of 12-step rooms. I believe in a spiritual solution, which means that I can’t give you the answer packaged up with a tidy, little bow. But I can be a conduit to offer my experience, strength, and hope while you walk along the path with me.
So, while I can’t teach you how to stop compulsive spending, I can offer practical advice about how to get over the terror that keeps you from even beginning the process of developing a spending plan. I can share my own experience, strength, and hope around staying sober despite the pain we all experience emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually because of this debilitating addiction. And I can show you how to create and use a spending plan, which is vital to recovery.
I’m Just another Compulsive Spender
But never forget, I’m no different from you, no guru with a grand plan that I guarantee will work for you. I’m just another compulsive spender living in recovery one day at a time. Yes, there is the Grace that has come to me and thousands of others around compulsive spending, one day at a time. But that Grace can disappear in an instant if I am not willing to do the hard work of living within my means no matter how much I want to buy something I can’t afford. My willingness to do just that is how I paid off $34,000 of unsecured debt in seven years despite becoming disabled and losing over half my income, and it’s how I continue to live within my means today.
There are many paths to recovery from compulsive spending. But I only know of one that worked for me, and I tried many … “lots” of many. And that is why I rail against the big names in the personal finance money management world who profess to have the answer to getting out of debt. Because there is a big difference between helping those of us who can stop spending by force of will and those who are afflicted with a broken “shut off valve” inside. None of those experts understand the mind of a true compulsive spender and the fact that you can be sick and suffering around your relationship with money without being in debt. And not one of them tries.
I am one of those who failed and failed and failed to stop spending no matter how many books or programs or therapies I tried. But just for today, I have been relieved of the compulsion and cravings. And just for today, I am willing to stay sober with money and say no to debt.
To pretend that I can give you what I have been given is hubris of the highest order. But I know where you can go to get just what I got. And that is to the rooms of Debtors Anonymous, a 12-Step program that is free to anyone who wants it.
How the Podcast Came to Be
I’m now 62, but for at least 40 years, I wanted to be a radio talk show host. I dabbled, but didn’t have the guts or willingness to feel the pain it took to struggle to succeed in that industry.
But last year, due to a windfall, I was able to take Cliff Ravenscraft’s A to Z podcasting course paid in cash. I am grateful that I had the money because the course was more than I ever hoped it would be, and if I had debted to make it happen, there is no way I would have gotten all the benefits I did.
How do I know this? I know this because of my experience with the $15,000+ I debted in order to pay for all the other training programs and coaching I bought as a compulsive spender. Just an aside, but Cliff is a remarkable mentor and teacher, and he offers a treasure trove of material for free so that money is no barrier to becoming a podcaster. But I’m so happy that I had the opportunity and money to work with him personally.
Creating this podcast felt like the next natural step to spreading the message of recovery to compulsive spenders. It has truly been a dream come true and an honor to share my journey and my experience, strength, and hope with you.
Why I Need to Pause Production on This Podcast
But now I’m at a place where I need to pause on producing the show. I’m not at all sure this is my last podcast, but I am sure I need to take a step back. There are a number of practical reasons I came to this decision, including vocal cord and other health issues, financial issues, time issues, and something else that I cannot quite figure out.
It’s that last one that has been causing me to go round and round and round trying to make this decision. It’s like I need space to open my heart to hear my creative muse, which seems to be trying to break free from some internal shackles.
But letting go feels like failure to me. For weeks, I’ve been in a place where I have been holding on for dear life to this podcast while real life has continued to pry me away along with a still, small voice inside that is growing louder.
Respecting Tradition 11 in a Connected World
One thing I’ve come up against is the anonymity issue. In order to take my message to the next level, I would need to use my name and show my face. That has been a very hard obstacle to overcome in my attempt to adhere to DA’s 11th Tradition, which states, “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.” Many therapists, authors, radio/TV/podcast hosts, and other celebrities have forged ahead and thrown caution to the wind, identifying their membership in 12 step programs.
There have been critics, but the fact is, the work of those who have stepped forward has helped so many in recovery from a variety of addictions. In fact, I would never have come to Debtors Anonymous were it not for Jerrold Mundis’ book, “How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously.” Right on the copyright page, it states, “Based on the proven principles and techniques of Debtors Anonymous.” You don’t get more out there than that.
But his book saved my life.
Though the issue with Tradition 11 is that if someone loses their sobriety then it reflects on the program as a whole, in today’s world, it seems that the ability to give service may supersede the possible damage any one person’s relapse may cause. But I’m not sure, today, where I stand on that issue personally. And I need to come to terms with that if I want to go more public with my message.
Monetizing Recovery or Under-earning?
There is also the issue of monetizing recovery. And that is an even thornier topic. I see no problem with writing books and other information to help those in recovery, which is why I wrote the Getting Out from Going Under Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders. Many therapists are open about their own recovery journey when helping patients. I also feel comfortable offering my services for a fee to help people learn how to use spending plan software. But the line becomes blurrier to me when you bring in other types of services, such as coaching or courses. When service becomes occupation, I think one has to give it serious thought before crossing that line.
And there is a point at which service becomes under-earning. For instance, I would love to do lots more interviews, but they can take three days to produce! Even the solo episodes take a day or two. Though I began this podcast in an effort to simply be of service, I’m embarrassed to admit that there is a part of me that wants to be compensated at the point where service begins to feel like an actual job. It just may be best to allow more space in my life to bring in money from work that is separate from sharing my recovery.
The Getting Out From Going Under Blog has Hundreds of Articles about Recovery
So, the podcast is on hold. In the meantime, my blog – Getting Out from Going Under – has hundreds of posts giving you practical instructions around all manner of topics, from spending plans to relationships to working the steps, and more, plus many other posts dealing with other aspects of recovery from compulsive spending. I plan to continue writing posts for the blog. And I’ve got an idea for another book to help compulsive spenders that’s been rattling around in my head for months! Plus, I’m writing on Medium.com (@moneysober) about more general topics.
Agape Minister Rev. Safire Rose’s Remarkable Poem, “She Let Go”
Every time I thought about, for want of a better word, “quitting” the podcast, I’ve been filled with shame and feelings of failure. After all, I committed to doing this for one year and what will people think if I break that commitment?
And then yesterday, I read something that changed everything. And the result was this podcast. Because of what I read, I am listening to my heart instead of acting out of fear.
So I’m going to end today’s show differently. Instead of reading from the Getting out from Going Under Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders, I’m going to end with the poem I found yesterday. It’s called “She Let Go.” It was written by Rev. Safire Rose, an Agape minister. I didn’t want to post the words to the poem for copyright reasons, but you can easily find them doing a Google search. You can listen to me read the poem below (background music is called “Thaxted” by Kevin MacLeod, incompetech.com, Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)
Bless you Rev. Rose. And thank you to everyone who has listened to this podcast and to those who supported me in getting the message of recovery from compulsive spending out to the world through it. If you are a compulsive spender, please know that you are not alone and you can recover one day at a time.
Thanks so much for listening. I wish you all the best.