Experience, Strength, and Hope #8

How did you know you had a problem?

I didn’t. It sounds unbelievable, but I actually didn’t know. My vagueness and unconsciousness were so dense, I didn’t even have the wherewithal to identify I actually had a problem with money, save for the ever continuing belief that I never had enough of it. Someone (an angel) pointed my problem out to me.

How did you find D.A.?

I was in another 12-Step program in New York City. The city was drenched in 12-Step meetings—at least it was in those days of the late 1980s. I was telling this lady that I was moving up to Boston to live with my boyfriend and that I’d told him he’d better buy me a car because I didn’t have any money for a car. She asked if I really didn’t have any money at all. I answered that well, yes, I did, but I wasn’t going to tell him that. This lady/angel then said wisely to me that it wasn’t good to start a relationship based on lies and why don’t I go into D.A. I asked her what that meant and when she said Debtors Anonymous, I retorted indignantly that I didn’t have any debt. “Well, you don’t have to be in debt to go to Debtors Anonymous” came the reply, and you get some clarity on your relationship with money. Cheeky bugger, I thought. I walked off wondering … hmmmm. … D.A. I found a meeting close at St. Vincent’s hospital. I have been going to Debtors Anonymous for 29 years.

What have you learned in D.A.?

Endless knowledge about myself. How there were all kinds of detrimental belief systems that were running my life and blocking me from inner peace, gratitude, joy: the good life. How I had no truly developed relationship with a Higher Power—in fact, I rarely communed with HP at all! I learned in D.A. to be honest about my life, to read fine print, to grow in awareness, to manage my money well, to live within my means. I learned how to value myself and to love myself and to forgive myself, and thus, others… I learned what my life’s purpose is. I learned how to live in abundance and prosperity, and know it, recognize it. Above all, in these later years of my 29th year of life in D.A., I learned that D.A. is not about money.

What suggestions do you have for newcomers in their first 90 days?

Attending meetings is essential. [You] must stop using a credit card (this is the equivalent of the alcoholic stopping drinking). Know that a variety of mixed feelings will likely come flooding up to the surface and that this is OK, and a part of practically everyone’s experiences in the first 90 days. Know that there is NO JUDGMENT on you or about you, regarding your money chaos in D.A. We are all in D.A. for money issues, for self value issues, for finding out about and healing the “not enough syndrome.” Keep your ears open for a sponsor. Above all, know that there IS hope, and recovery is there for the taking.

—Anonymous

Experience, Strength, and Hope #7

How did you know you had a problem?

I was using debt to meet my basic needs. I had been credit card dependent for over 10 years … using one credit card to pay another. Only being able to meet the basic minimum payments, until they became too great also. Being very vague and hopeless about my money. I had many of the D.A. signs that are often read at meetings.

How did you find D.A.?

It was a godsend; there was a meeting at the same place another 12 Step meeting was being held … and against my better judgment … I attended it. I continue to attend meetings toD.A.y after 13 years! Debtors anonymous is a priceless gift.

What have you learned in D.A.?

To live within my means. To be grateful. Not to compare my insides to everyone else’s outsides. That it is an abunD.A.nt and prosperous universe. God will provide. To record my numbers D.A.ily. To work the steps to the best of my ability. When I don’t use credit or other people’s money, it gives inspiration for creativity to get my needs and some of my wants met.

What suggestions do you have for newcomers in their first 90 days?

Go to the debtorsanonyomous.org website. Click on GETTING STARTED. Check out the resources there. Review the “15 Questions” and “12 Signs of Compulsive Debting.” Read about the “12 Tools” of the program. Check out “Frequently Asked Questions.”

SURRENDER! Attend meetings. Read the D.A. literature. Stop incurring debt toD.A.y. Record or write down your numbers . All of your expenses and all of your income. Get phone numbers from other solvent members and call them. Read more D.A. literature and try to identify [yourself] in [the stories]. Know that you are not alone. Read, use, and work the steps with a sponsor. Attend D.A. telephone meetings. Attend D.A. Step study telephone meetings. Ask for help. Your Higher Power loves you immensely.

—Truly blessed & grateful

Experience, Strength, and Hope #6

How did you know you had a problem?

It was pretty obvious to me. I’d incurred about $20k in unsecured debt in a couple of years. I was binge- buying items online as an attempt to overcome my utter demoralization, sense of failure, and despair at being unable to maintain employment despite repeated attempts. My health declined each time I did, and the intervals got shorter and shorter. I couldn’t accept the reality of living on a poverty income after having been a professional.

How did you find D.A.?

I was complaining about how I was just living from month to month to a friend who was in D.A. She told me that even if I had no debt, if I wasn’t earning enough that I would be welcome to D.A. as an underearner. Several years after I joined my health declined, and I became unable to work. Years later, I returned to D.A., now from a place of utter despair and in debt.

What have you learned in D.A.?

By working the steps of this program with a sponsor, I have moved from an unmanageable, miserable, and hopeless state of mind and physical sense of despair to a place of emotional sobriety, peace, happiness, and contentment, in spite of my financial circumstances remaining at 300% below poverty due to health issues.

What suggestions do you have for newcomers in their first 90 days?

Go to the debtorsanonyomous.org website. Click on GETTING STARTED. Check out the resources there. Review the “15 Questions” and “12 Signs of Compulsive Debting.” Read about the “12 Tools” of the program. Check out “Frequently Asked Questions.”

Attend at least a meeting a day, two or three a day if possible. There are both phone, in-person, and Internet meeting options. Listen, keep an open mind. Take phone numbers of people that you resonate with. Give out your contact information (phone number or email) and ask people who have experience, strength, and hope of recovery to please contact you.

Try all different types of meetings. Check out the Saturday group RECORD KEEPING and NUMBERS to learn more about how to track your spending.

There are meetings for self-employed persons, for persons with health issues, persons who are compulsive spenders, persons who are debtors/underearners with clutter problems. See what meetings fit best for you and seem most helpful.

Under FELLOWSHIP [on the D.A. website] check out the DA newsletters, the DA Focus and Ways and Means. Under ABOUT D.A., check out RECOVERY STORIES and HISTORY.

Begin one day at a time to stop incurring new unsecured debt. Start simple: Put three columns on lined paper. First column, write the date. Second line, Category. Under the title “Category,” write down everything you spend each day, one day at a time. Examples are Groceries, Rent, Gas, Car Insurance, etc. Put the amount you spend. Keep this simple! Call and report this to someone in recovery in the D.A. program. Check out the D.A. HOW FORMAT meeting, which is a more structured form of sponsorship in the D.A. program to learn more about the tools and how people are using these in recovery. Most of all, Keep coming back! It works IF you work it AND you are WORTH it!

—Melissa D.