June is the one year anniversary of this blog. For at least a year prior to inception, I felt increasingly nudged, then pushed, to write about my experience, strength, and hope in recovering (one day at a time) from the disease of compulsive debting and spending.
“I can’t ask God to help me overcome my desire for potato chips when I’m finishing off another bag.” Page 84 Drop the Rock
That sums up Steps 6 & 7 in a nutshell. Perfect analogy. Yes, God CAN do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, but we still have to do our part. Our part may seem impossible, but that is just the fact of it.
Here is a quote from the Debtors Anonymous Ways and Means Newsletter from Quarter three, 2011, page 3:
How many people in your group are waiting for their Vision before they’re willing to not incur unsecured debt one day at a time? We’ve heard it before. A vision built on active debting is a hallucination. One great way to make a vision fall apart at the seams is to build it on debt. I’ve been there. All the pretty magazine pictures on a Vision board don’t mean much if the underlying foundation they’re built on is debt.
I can TOTALLY relate to this. In DA, I must live in reality, not fantasy. It was so true for me regarding the “businesses” at which I was throwing money with no return. I used the excuse that these were my visions to continue justifying spending that was needed for other parts of my life, and which, in large part, increased my pre-DA debt to $33,000 (before I came in the second time around, after getting completely out of debt in DA the first time around in 2000).
Here is the best explanation of the difference between obsession and craving that I have read: Joe and Charlie describes obsession and craving
The “Doctor’s Opinion” in the Big Book (BB) also describes the phenomenon of craving.
On page 30 of the Big Book, it states:
The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.
We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.
My son graduated college two weeks ago. He fully expected to walk out of graduation into a job. But his Higher Power had a different plan in mind. My son interned at an ad agency during his last semester and found a calling as a copywriter. The agency agreed … as did the clients. His ideas and scripts were produced. He was led to believe that he would be hired. But as the weeks of his internship went on, a sure thing led to uncertainty. And by graduation, he was told that there was no job available, but they would try to see if they could possibly add him as a freelancer. And so he waits. And mopes.
I am a “Baby Boomer,” not a “Millennial” like my son. Yet, as an addict, I suffer from Entitlement-itis – the feeling that I deserve what I want and don’t have to follow the rules to get it. I “should” be given what I want without effort and I shouldn’t have to go through the effort put forth by “regular people” to accomplish goals. Even my smallest effort “should” be rewarded by accolades and riches.
“We desperately used our compulsive debting to avoid feeling the pain of an empty hole in the center of our soul, the void that only our Higher Power could fill.”
Page 18, Twelve Steps of DA pamphlet
I actually didn’t use compulsive debting that way. I hate debt. It makes me profoundly uncomfortable to owe anyone anything. For me, it is compulsive spending that I used to try to fill that hole. Or, to be more accurate, compulsive wanting. The pain of that itch unscratched is nearly unbearable when I am active in my disease … and not much better in recovery. The difference is that I recognize it when I am in recovery and have tools to deal with it.
“They termed the practice of not debting the gateway to recovery from the disease and its symptoms, and by 1971, they had settled on the name Debtors Anonymous to reflect that laser-like focus.”
From Keeping the Fellowship Record Page 3 Ways and Means Quarter 1, 2013
Debtors Anonymous was divinely inspired, just like AA. In reading about the history of DA, it is clear that figuring out the bottom line of our dissease was a hard road for John H. and the others.
With eating or drinking or drugs, the first bite, drink, or hit is the key, but with our issues, it’s not so clear-cut. It took years for DA’s founders to determine that debting was the bottom line for membership in DA.