March 29, Why the Helping Professions Have a Hard Time Treating Compulsive Debtors

Thought for today:

Compulsive debting has a way of sucking the joy out of life.  The quick-fix payday loan turns into miserable months of lost financial ground.  Professionals allows us to rack up huge balances thinking they are doing us a favor, only to turn away in shock and disbelief.

Like quicksand, we are in debt over our heads, emotionally isolated, with nowhere to turn. Everywhere, we are confronted by shame, as if there are signs everywhere saying to us “Sorry, peace of mind and happiness are not for you.  You must feel terrible and suffer all the time, for you surely deserve the torment.”

Many of us sought counseling for our debting problem.  Priests, psychologists, counselors – all tried to understand and offer guidance.  These people meant well, but were often limited in their ability to help.  And sometimes they actually facilitated our disease.

Some members recalled these experiences with the helping professions before recovery…

“My therapist let me accrue $5,000 in debt to him because I couldn’t afford his services . He thought he was helping me by letting me keep a running balance, because I really needed a place to talk it out.  It was only after I missed many payments  that he found and mentioned DA to me.”

“My priest told me it was okay to debt, as long as I was doing it for good cause, to support my family in a crisis of unemployment, or to go on a religious pilgrimage in a foreign country.  It took me seven years to pay off that debt, and it will take me that much longer to get out of debt completely.”

Of course, we weren’t innocent victims, and if truth be told, we weren’t totally honest with these professionals.  We lied to them and we lied to ourselves about what we were doing.  That is the self-deceptive nature of disease.  We had to always remember that we actively participated in our own fiscal calamity.  No one forced us to debt.

What we really needed was the understanding and feedback of people who had been there and had found a way out.  People who had what we had – the disease of compulsive debting, under earning, and overspending – were the only real answer.  If they had  found their way back from financial disaster, they could help us do the same.

We debtors share a peculiar twist of mind that “normal people” can’t understand.   We can’t fool each other,  because we shared the same secret fears without us saying a word.  They, too, had hidden their self-destructive debt out of shame and guilt, and they too had nowhere to turn.

There is a spiritual approach to financial crisis that really works.  We deal with the emotional and mental aspect of debt, as well as the monetary part.  With simple tools used consistently, we piece our lives back together.*

We have each other.  In our common suffering we find faith, hope, power, and courage.

Do I embrace our fellowship, allowing our common suffering to become uncommon healing?

Meditation for today:

How often we cry out in agony over hurt feelings and pride!  Desperation is one of our Higher Power’s favorite teaching opportunities!

Let the seeming tragedy aside, and you will find the answer is simple: pick up the phone, talk with a friend, reason things out, without criticism or judgement.  We need each other in fellowship and love.

Above all, do not try to do it alone.  That is what the disease of compulsive debting wants you to do.

Affirmations for today:

I will carve out a precious DA moment today where I will talk with a friend in recovery and share my “experience, strength, and hope”.

My desperate feelings will gradually give way to incredible healing .

Prayer for today:

I pray that I become a power of example of how DA works. Let me be a walking version of the program of recovery from the disease of compulsive debting, overspending, and under earning.  Let me inspire hope in the person who still suffers.

* “Extra Credit” Reading:

Learn about the disease of compulsive debting and how the Twelve Step program of Debtors Anonymous works:

The first publication by the Debtors Anonymous 12 Step Fellowship, A Currency of Hopedescribes the basics of the D.A. recovery program.  It includes the basic tool kit of the fellowship – the Tools, the Steps, the Traditions, and includes 38 success stories of D.A. members. It offers experience, strength, and hope to help other compulsive debtors and all those who want to stop incurring unsecured debt, such as credit cards, unsecured loans, personal loans, unpaid taxes, and more.

How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously*: Based on the Proven Principles and Techniques of Debtors Anonymous… Jerrold Mundis’ knowledge of overcoming compulsive debting is firsthand, and reading this book will help any compulsive debtor overcome the downward spiral of unsecured credit, and reverse patterns of under earning and overspending, no matter how entrenched those patterns are.

And finally, DA Tool Eight encourages us to read AA literature, and a great place to start is with the AA Big Book “Alcoholics Anonymous”.  It explains the Twelve Steps like no other book, is filled with dozens of hopeful stories of recovery:

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