[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.
Here is the information about the brand new booklet that took 15 years to come to fruition:
With deepest gratitude, Debtors Anonymous is pleased to announce the availability of our own conference-approved Step book: The Twelve Steps of the Debtors Anonymous
Available in a booklet format, this work is the result of 15 years of loving collaboration between members of our Fellowship and a Higher Power that guides us.
Each booklet sells for $7.00 a piece; 10 booklets for $60.00; or 20 booklets for $100.00. Literature Order forms can be found at the Debtors Anonymous website or by clicking here for a printable PDF form.
Please share at your meetings.
Click here for a sample page (PDF).
It has recently become clear to me that urgency is one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of weapons used by our disease to trick us into relapse. Along with adrenaline, urgency is a powerful drug that can drive us to behave counter to our best interests, blinding us to the potential consequences of acting while in its clutches.
I recently read an interesting article about how losing stuff can change your life.
The author’s bottom line was that “Involuntarily losing shit … brutally takes things away at random and makes you fight to get them back so that you remember and reaffirm the value of each one.”
When I lose stuff, I also often lose perspective and go quite berserk no matter how valuable the lost item. Thankfully, recovery has enabled me to improve in this arena. However, being on an extremely tight spending plan does make the pain run a bit deeper for me as I cannot blithely buy another of anything anymore.
I am thinking of embarking on a new moratorium. No, not a spending moratorium. Already did that for three months. No, this one will be much harder.
I propose a moratorium on criticism, which is a subtle form of gossip. And on self-righteous indignation, which is very loud criticism. And let’s throw in giving advice, which leads to self-righteous indignation when the receiving party doesn’t want to do what I say.
I’ll probably have to tape my mouth shut for the duration because, really, what else is there to talk about?
Update on progress for the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: 248 days written!
It was brought to my attention that the DA HOW questions document I was offering on this site contains Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) material that is copyrighted and AA has asked that this information be removed from the questions that are publicly offered.
I believe all the removed material can be purchased through Amazon or AA, and includes “Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers,” “Pass it On,” and “Bill W.” (I think this is the correct book).
You can access the updated questions document at the >u>DA HOW Intergroup website.
Please talk to your sponsor about using these questions.
I did something insane. It didn’t seem insane at the time. But as I sit here today, it sure feels crazy.
Toward the end of May, I decided to enact a three month spending moratorium on a single category: Discretionary. My Discretionary category covers art supplies, books, entertainment, etc.
I guess I didn’t realize that three months was 90 whole days when I made this pledge. Insane, right?
But not really. Probably incredibly sane. Here’s why.
“It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness.” (Page 66 of the Big Book.)
Are justice and compassion mutually exclusive? I have been thinking about this for days. I believe they may be for those of us in 12 Step Programs if we are to have any peace.
Here’s what I mean. When I see something I consider unjust, I feel myself getting all riled up. Adrenaline begins to flow and self-righteous indignation is the result. I spout off (often loudly) about the injustice of it all. I can get myself utterly worked up. And that is not good for my recovery (or my health).
In trying to live a life of peace, when I am wronged I am told in the Big Book to show “tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend.” (page 67) I am assuming that this extends out to harms perpetrated on anyone. Otherwise, the Big Book would say that it is OK to be enraged at the court system if you disagree with a verdict or the government if they don’t behave as you would like. Instead, the Big Book says on page 66:
But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintence and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die. If we were to live, we had to be free of anger.
That means I cannot afford to get worked up over anything. That means that I have to find a way to meet injustice with compassion. Or I will eventually relapse into compulsive debting.
If you are feeling restless, irritable, and discontented, blaming it on DA, thinking about exiting stage left … just remember that leaving DA won’t give you more money.
According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” Using information from his own research and a study of violin students in the 1990’s, he concludes that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert among experts.
Time magazine, among others, have found holes in this theory. But the crucial message for me, as an addict, is that it takes time to become good at anything … including recovery.