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As I write this, it’s a little over a week before Christmas and Hanukkah. And it came to me that it’s the perfect day to begin a recovery program or to re-commit to recovery around compulsive spending. What better time to let your addiction know that you mean business then to affirm your commitment in the midst of the frenzied spending around the holidays.
In fact, if you suffer from any addiction, now is the time to get the help you need to become and stay sober or abstinent or clean or solvent or authentic or whatever describes your addiction. This is the season of excess, whether it’s food, money, sex, alcohol, people-pleasing, anxiety, sadness, anger, or whatever else you are powerless over.
I’ll tell you why this came up for me today. I attend a Debtors Anonymous (DA) meeting where we read and share on DA pamphlets. This week, while working through the Recovery from Compulsive Spending pamphlet, we read and discussed “suggestions that have helped many D.A. members recover from the pain of compulsive spending.” (from the pamphlet)
It was when we read this bullet point that I had my epiphany! “Attend D.A. meetings regularly for group support to counteract advertising and other societal pressures to spend and debt.”
Now, I’ve long heard people in various programs talk about the importance of attending meetings so we can give back what we’ve so generously been given, and how newcomers need meetings to really understand how 12 Step programs work and to develop a network of support.
But I’d never thought about meetings as a tool and a defense against the consumer marketing monster and societal messages urging us to spend money. And when is there more pressure on people for such a sustained period to buy, buy, buy as the lead up to Christmas, Hanukkah, and other December holidays? So when would there be a better time to get support than when the clock is ticking down to frenzied gift buying during this holiday season? You can make a commitment to recovery from compulsive spending to keep you sober with money now, today, not next week or next year.
Sure, there are other holidays where we feel pressured to buy. Never mind the other days that give us an opportunity to practice love, consideration, and giving of ourselves. I’m thinking of all those stupid Hallmark holidays that insist that the only way to show your mother or father you love them is to buy them an extravagant gift you probably can’t afford, which must be given to them on a particular Sunday in May or June in order to count.
Then there’s the message that you’d better give a big fat piece of jewelry to someone on a random day in February along with chocolate and flowers or someone will be hurt and believe you don’t love him or her. (don’t get me started about Valentine’s Day and where that holiday came from! Here is a link to an article I wrote about that.)
And, of course, there’s the Friday after Thanksgiving. But I’ve already covered why that’s the day for amateur spenders in this article, so you don’t need to bother even revving up your engines.
But the month of December is the granddaddy of spectacular spending pressure … because it starts in November! And there are so many gifts we think we need to buy. For compulsive spenders, once we make that first out of control or “I have to or they’ll be upset” purchase, we don’t know where it will end. But it’s usually not a happy ending. So why not stop it now?
You don’t have to wait until January 1st to make the decision and commitment to recover from compulsive spending. You can start today. Yes, you can.
Now, I’m about to say something shocking.
Are you ready?
You could cut up all your credit cards and cancel all the accounts today (or even just one account).
Oh no, I just heard a collective gasp from you all.
I realize you are probably going to need help to accomplish that step. I’m just saying you could do it in theory. Listen, I’m not suggesting you run a marathon today, but you can start by taking a walk around the block today. You can start by asking for help with your addiction.
You can get support to help you have a sober holiday season this year. There’s nothing magical about January 1st. People in recovery don’t make a list of resolutions once a year because we recommit to our recovery every day.
In fact, if you begin now, you can start to work on your spending plan for next year, so that you won’t be scrambling around holiday spending next December.
That’s why I say that there’s no better day for recovery than today. Stand up to your disease and you can have an army of support behind you.
Remember, there is no need to hit a bottom any lower than the one you’ve already hit. You can choose today to be Day One of recovery. There are many who have been just where you are who are waiting and wanting to help you. You may not know it yet, but there’s also an arsenal of tools available to support you.
If you are suffering from feeling beaten down by your compulsive spending, and know that you are just winding up to create more out of control debt during this holiday season, why not give 12 Step recovery a try? Both Debtors Anonymous and Underearners Anonymous have many phone meetings, which are incredibly convenient, as well as lots of live meetings.
Yes, I know that there is not just one road to recovery. But this is a road I have personally walked and I paid off over $34,000 of debt in seven years and I am still living within my means today (just one day at a time). And, just so you know, I only attend phone meetings. Plus, 12 Step Fellowships are 100% free for members.
All the help you need is just waiting for you to walk through the door or pick up the phone. It is offered freely and given to you with love. And it is available today and every day you want it, one day at a time.