Click here to listen on our podcast site, “I Cant Stop Spending!”
As I write this, it’s a little over a week before Christmas and Hanukkah. And it came to me that it’s the perfect day to begin a recovery program or to re-commit to recovery around compulsive spending. What better time to let your addiction know that you mean business then to affirm your commitment in the midst of the frenzied spending around the holidays.
In fact, if you suffer from any addiction, now is the time to get the help you need to become and stay sober or abstinent or clean or solvent or authentic or whatever describes your addiction. This is the season of excess, whether it’s food, money, sex, alcohol, people-pleasing, anxiety, sadness, anger, or whatever else you are powerless over.
I’ll tell you why this came up for me today. I attend a Debtors Anonymous (DA) meeting where we read and share on DA pamphlets. This week, while working through the Recovery from Compulsive Spending pamphlet, we read and discussed “suggestions that have helped many D.A. members recover from the pain of compulsive spending.” (from the pamphlet)
I am grateful to report that I finally paid off the last of my debt a couple of weeks ago! This is truly a miracle. In the late 1990’s, I first came into DA with $22,000 in debt. I paid that off and found all kinds of reasons to justify leaving the program by 2001.
Fast forward to 2009. I crawled back into DA a broken person after accumulating approximately $34,000 of new unsecured debt and trying to figure out how on earth I would send my son off to college. DA HOW healed me, and one day at a time, I lived within my means and committed what I would spend before spending it. I had PRGs around my debt, paying for my son’s college, and any other financial issues that came up.
In April, I celebrated six years of back to back abstinence from compulsive debting. But it has become clear to me recently that I am still a seriously compulsive spender. And I now truly understand why the primary purpose of Debtors Anonymous (DA) is not incurring unsecured debt.
If we just never had to spend money again, we wouldn’t have a problem, right? But unfortunately, we must learn to forge a new relationship with money that doesn’t include incurring unsecured debt. As I’ve written before, we must walk the razor’s edge.
Now that the Daily Reader is finished, I’ve been thinking about some other book ideas. Right now, I’m working on two of them that should be done in a few weeks. I’ll be posting more details as they near completion.
As a part of that process, I thought about creating a 12 Step Prayer Book. Over the years, I’ve basically just typed or cobbled together what I could find.
I must admit that I don’t usually focus on the tool of awareness. Compulsive debting and spending are all around us and I think I am somewhat desensitized.
But I just read a book that opened up my mind to some new ideas for increasing my awareness. The book is called “Bought Out and Spent! Recovery from Compulsive Shopping and Spending.” In it, author Terrence Shulman gives a lot of food for thought about awareness by including some great statistics and a list of movies to open our eyes.
I love documentaries, but never really thought about whether there were movies directly targeting our addiction. Here are the two from his list that seemed most interesting to me:
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.
Update on progress for the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: 236 days written!
There are two fantastic resources for members of Debtors Anonymous that you may not know about.
Update on progress for the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: 180 days written!
We use the DA tool of awareness to “maintain awareness of the danger of compulsive debt by taking note of bank, loan company, and credit card advertising and their effects on us. We also remain aware of our personal finances in order to avoid vagueness, which can lead to compulsive debting or spending.”
But I think there can be more to it. Many of us compare ourselves negatively to an image of the rich and famous that’s marketed to us, a demoralizing activity that causes us more harm than good, and is based on a story instead of reality. But what if we knew the truth? When our awareness is strengthened, our recovery is enhanced. Yes, we do want to stop comparing ourselves with others. But when we realize that success doesn’t mean we are free of financial challenges, such knowledge can help us let go of that defect.
I found this article charming and profound.
Granted, it’s talking about life passion and work, but the concept of should and must struck a chord in me. How does it relate to compulsive debtors and spenders?
For me, it’s about feeling that I SHOULD buy the biggest gift or pay for everyone’s dinner out. I SHOULD do that because what will they think of me if I don’t?
Today, I know that I MUST stay sober with money (i.e., not debt) if I want to live a life of integrity … and that may mean separate checks and a small present, or maybe no present at all if I don’t have the funds to purchase it.
This idea of what is expected by the world vs. what I know is the right path to take is powerful in many ways, but certainly true regarding my addiction. How I looked to the world (and my family, friends, and PARTICULARLY my son) often drove my spending.
The external world’s view, others’ expectations, my wrong thinking before recovery, are all examples of SHOULDS. Today, I can get messages from that still, small voice inside of me and I’m starting to listen. I thought the messages would be blared as from trumpets. But no. I get little nudgings that could easily be missed. So with each day of sobriety AND recovery, the easier it is to hear the quiet messages of MUST.
Let me know how you see this article relating to your recovery from compulsive debting.
The Crossroads of Should and Must
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