I recently fell for a very convincing online scam and lost $4,000. Did hackers get into my bank account and steal the money? No. Did thieves get my debit card information and go on a shopping spree? No. I was so freaked out by the pretense of the scam, I believed it was real. My rational thought was hijacked and any concept of my Higher Power was taken hostage. Once hooked, the scammers reeled me in and I basically gave them the money in a way that could not be traced, stopped, or even treated as fraud by my bank.
After the money was gone and reality hit, I felt incredibly stupid, not to mention humiliated and angry. It had taken a long time to build up my savings across several categories. I could not believe most of it was gone so quickly or that I had become instantly gullible and trusting out of fear. They were so convincing. But at least they didn’t get ALL of my money and it only impacted savings; my checking account was still intact, and my spending plan was not in jeopardy.
A D.A. meeting was the only place I felt safe talking about it and fellow members have been so supportive. Yet in between their words of wisdom and fleeting feelings of relief, I unconsciously became my own harsh creditor, believing I had incurred debt. Not only that, but I also reverted to pre-D.A. thinking. All of a sudden, repaying that money to my savings went to the top of the priority list and my needs and self-care went to the bottom. Prayers to my Higher Power were focused on repayment plans, not self-compassion or self-forgiveness. And yet…I knew something was wrong and that I needed to use the tools to get help.
It took a PRG for me to finally realize I was punishing myself. If I had chosen to spend the same amount of money on something in my spending or savings plans, that would have been fine. But this wasn’t my choice. I was tricked, the money is gone, it’s my fault, and the money must be repaid. Wow. If the tables were turned and a D.A. member came to me with this, I would never even think to be so rigid, heartless, and unforgiving. And to top it all off, like so many other things, this “scam fallout” was not actually about the money.
Underneath my feelings of humiliation, shame, and self-punishment was one of my core debtor beliefs: fear of not having enough to take care of myself. Isn’t that ironic? I succumbed to scammers out of fear and dove into self-punishment out of fear, too. I have spent and rebuilt my savings a number of times for a number of reasons and this is really no different. Even when I’ve saved one dollar at a time, maintaining the spiritual practice of honoring my spending and savings plans has repeatedly resulted in abundance. And my Higher Power has always been with me every step of the way.
Today, I no longer need to dwell on despair and loss. I have experienced a newfound hope. Because of my D.A. recovery, I’m now able to say the resentment prayer for the scammers. I’m also able to pray to my Higher Power for the willingness to forgive myself, let it go, and to focus on gratitude. There is still so much abundance in my life. All I truly have are these twenty-four hours, and for today I have all I need.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them. – AA Big Book, pp 83-84