By Dot P.

“I came to D.A. to stop debting; what I received in return was my life.” –Anonymous

When I entered the meeting rooms of D.A. I was at my wits end, desperate for a solution to my continuous worries and stresses over cash flow, bills, and the insurmountable personal stresses that plagued my mind and body. I was anxious, lived with terrors, was irritable, and I isolated, hiding myself and my deprivation lifestyle from professional coworkers, friends, and the fellows with whom I was walking a spiritual journey. I was living a false life, and I was miserable. I knew the world and everyone I met thought ill of me, was insulting me behind my back, conspiring against me to harm me and squash me down into nothingness. I was full of shame, self-hate, and hate toward others. My heart was a rock, unable to feel any softness. I believed deeply in God and held a master’s degree from a prestigious seminary. Go figure that.

At that time, I thought I had God all figured out. He was my father since a young age, as I had none. He was my provider and helped me out of financial scrapes. He provided food when I had no resources. He helped me when I was ill and needed medical attention to improve my health. He was my personal God, of course. From this side of recovery, I realize God brought many people across my path who helped me. People who were introduced into my life at critical times when I needed comfort and healing, who intervened in my crises and kept me from the brink of self-destruction. The world wasn’t out to get me, I was.

Listening and talking in the rooms of D.A. meetings, whining in self-pity and despair for several years while working the steps with sponsors, keeping my numbers, and doing service changed all that. In D. A. I have lived from one miraculous baby step stepping-stone to another miraculous baby step stepping-stone, each spiritual action and inner personality change introducing me to greater self-love, to loving others, and to financial and material stability. Now I live in, what is for me, unbelievable prosperity. For a woman who had not lived in a house since the age of thirteen, fifty-three years ago, and who has always struggled to have proper foods and to pay the rent, I am indeed living a life beyond my wildest dreams as a homeowner with a job where I have fourteen-year tenure as a valued employee. My new goal is to apply for a passport, build up a vacation savings account and travel. Oh, yes, and I am now a compensated published author, one of my far away dreams come true.

Yet, it has been my life with God that is my real miracle, the source of all the things listed above. it is a gargantuan miracle of God that has brought incredible beauty and love into my life. Throughout my fourteen years in D.A. God has slipped quietly into my inner being in many unexpected ways. Prayer and meditation, quietly learning to listen to the small, still voice in my intuitive inner self has brought innumerable blessings, too many blessings to keep track of or to count.

Through the D.A. program I have learned to ask for help to act on life rather than react to it, to get out into the world and really live instead of hiding under the bedcovers depressed and obsessed over my fearful imaginings about life. And I’m in the process of learning to let go and follow God, rather than acting before I pray. I listen to Him speak and ask Him what He wants me to do, if anything at all.

I have slowly learned in D.A. “The Solution is God,” and nothing else. Recovery is a byproduct of the condition of my life in God, my spiritual condition. Oh, I began to obtain the basic material rewards of a recovery life in D.A. by going through the motions of the steps and the tools. However, miracles happened when I threw open my heart to God with complete abandon. I’m not perfect and some days I struggle and rebel against practicing a spiritual life, but eventually I ask my peers and God for help and they get me back on track. That’s how things work for me.

I know without a doubt a spiritual life lived and enabled by practicing the steps and tools of D.A. and doing God’s will to the best of my ability, one day at a time, brings about wholeness of mind, spirit, and body. I have slowly learned what I now hold dear to my heart: 1) I am a debtor

and cannot manage my own life; 2) That probably no human power can restore me to sanity;

3) That God can and will if He is sought.” –paraphrased from Alcoholics Anonymous

By Lisa F.

When it comes to my struggles with money and debt it seems like it started at a very early age. Even as a child I remember not having "enough". I remember my brothers getting more money for allowance, and when I questioned it, I was told they had to pay when taking girls out. And later when I questioned it further I was told that they had to do hard work outside like mowing the lawn (like doing dishes for a family of eight 2-3 times a day was a picnic, LOL). And, yes, when I questioned it once again I was told not to worry because I would get married one day and my husband would take care of the finances.

Fast forward twenty years and it came as no surprise that I would have issues with money and debt. I suffered in silence with no courage to let anyone else into my pain. On the outside all looked well. I owned a business, a home, and an automobile. But inside I was maxed out on my credit and was months behind on many of my bills. I quit opening the mail--like that would magically make these problems go away. I had an account frozen by the IRS for a mistake on my taxes. The mistake was not my fault but how I handled it, or rather didn't handle it; was. The account also happened to be managed by my brother. Ignoring issues is not a good strategy and it does catch up with you. I also had one of my neighbors come and talk to me about being behind on my association dues and that I could lose my house if I didn't clear it up. My secret was out. I was at a point where it was getting hard to juggle accounts and money--robbing Petra to pay Paula was also not a great strategy.

So when I walked into my first DA meeting in Denver CO in 1997 I immediately found a sense of Hope. It was a small meeting, but 3-5 people all equally yoked in pain was all I needed. There was very little DA literature at the time so we followed a book that was not official DA Literature that was contained some of the tools that we use in DA today. I followed that book sentence by sentence. If it said make a list, I made a list. If it said record my spending and income, I recorded my numbers. I call it “keeping my numbers”. I took all my credit cards and put them in a bag and filled it with water and into the freezer they went. They were on ice. Frozen. Not to be used. At the meeting they said just not to debt one day at a time. I could do that for 24 hours. Since our group was small when someone had a PRG (pressure relief meeting) all or most members attended. We all worked the steps as a group.

It was that group and that book that helped me learn to commit to keeping my numbers and helped me become solvent. I kept my numbers and went to cash for my daily expenses. When I compiled a list of debts, I was overwhelmed by just the process of figuring out what I owed, who I owed, and the exact amounts. I was completely vague about money which is a symptom of being a debtor. When I figured it out the total came to over $52,000. It was a hard number to cope with, but it was my number, and I found instant relief in knowing it.

I started working the steps and keeping my numbers and going to group. Almost immediately everything started to change. I was introduced to the concept of a "prudent reserve"--which is a savings account. I didn't have one when I came to program which was another part of the problem. I opened one and committed to start saving no matter how humble. Every Friday I would empty my jeans, ashtrays in my car, purse and deposit whatever I could scrounge week it was $1.32 the next week $1.68. It was a humbling experience and once teller at my Credit union asked me about it. Here I was depositing $800/$1500 into my business account and $2.62 into my savings account...always in change. I remember being kind of embarrassed but said "you gotta start somewhere". I was determined to establish some savings. My account grew at an amazingly slow rate and was wiped out many times but I found in this program it is that slow methodical, incremental progress that is not only what helped me to become solvent, but after 4 years in the program, retire my debts. I made amends. I had Hope. I spread the word. I even hosted our first DA weekend retreat in the year 2000.

I wish I could say "and I lived happily ever after"- with abundance and prosperity but that wasn't my story. I found myself once again in an all too familiar place when I went back to school. I struggled with debt once again but I found the tools of the program work it you work them. There is always a meeting to attend and there is always steps to work along with the hand of other DA members. After many years in the program I now have visions for my life. I am debt free and have savings and prosperity. I rarely feel vague about money and even though life is not is not without Hope.

By Tom W.

My skewed attitude toward money began early. I grew up in a middle class home with very contradictory views of money. On the one hand, it was not okay to talk about things, but on the other hand it was admired too much. We had money but didn’t. The underlying view was that money and related status was a good thing, but it was important to act as though it wasn’t! The result was that I grew up with a sense of entitlement regarding money. Fortunately, that came with a strong work ethic—I began work when I was 13—but the contradictory, crazy attitude was still there. I learned far too easily how to spend more than I earned without batting an eye.

Somehow that attitude, a poor self-image, other factors resulted in my predilection for compulsive behavior. That behavior did not cause compulsive money making—I was reasonably prudent but did not worry much about money. During my late teens and early 20s I drank excessively. Later, I studied to an extreme degree—my compulsive energies went in that direction—followed by extreme work habits, followed by gambling, and excessive spending which meshed well with that addiction. I was then in my 40s, divorced, wanting to still be a good part-time parent, under pressure at a dysfunctional work environment, and often lonesome. Not being responsible about my “money life” and imprudent spending became part of the sad picture.

Fortunately, I did begin a slow road to recovery when my debts and spending exceeded my income, and things were getting worse of course. At the urging of my soon-to-become spouse I stumbled across DA. In fits and starts I began attending meetings. I was very skeptical about the DA program. Frankly, I don’t think I really wanted to recover. I certainly did not want to change my lifestyle to which I had become accustomed. And of course the addict in me did not want to face my debts or stop the debting.

That crazy thinking is part of the disease. However, by working the program, coming to meetings to hear and share experiences, support from friends and loved ones, a short term second job, and staying away from malls and other “triggering” environments. I was able to pay off my debts and stop incurring more debt. At this point in time, I am debt free and can live modestly and happily. I am content and no longer feel deprived or that I’m missing anything by not living a billionaire’s life style!

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