A few months ago, a friend who’d spent the past few years living overseas returned to Sydney.
Recently, she invited me to join her roommate and some friends for a pizza night at her new home – and when she told me the suburb where she now lived, I was intrigued.
And when I GPSed her address, I smiled.
It is a small world after all, because her home was only a street away from a place that, back in late 2010 and early 2011, played a very important part in saving my life from disaster.
It was one weekend morning in early September 2010 when I discovered that I would no longer be able to juggle my credit cards to make all of my minimum monthly payments.
I had known and feared for years that this day would come, and finally it had.
Shortly after this grim hand of reality slapped me hard across the face, I stood there stunned and worked out how long unsecured debt had been a part of my life.
The answer was eighteen years, or almost half of my adult life.
The grim hand of reality slapped me hard across the face again, and made me mad.
At myself, that is, because then I snarled four words at myself that I knew I should have snarled at myself years ago:
“You’re like an alcoholic!”
The truth really hurts when you finally bring yourself to face it…
…but a moment later, it gave me an idea.
When many alcoholics hit rock bottom and admit to themselves that enough is enough, what do many of them do?
They stop drinking, or get help to stop drinking.
And which famous movement has helped many alcoholics to stop drinking?
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Did similar help for exist for fools like me?
I jumped online.
A few minutes later, I was very relieved to discover that there is a Debtors Anonymous (DA) movement in Australia.
And as well, the nearest chapter in Sydney had their weekly meetings only a short train-ride away in a nearby suburb.
I became excited with hope…
…until I read the Twelve Steps and saw the following in Step 2:
“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
I’ve been an atheist since my mid-teens, and life experiences since then have reinforced that position.
That reference to “a Power greater than ourselves” stopped me cold.
If DA involved something like that, then perhaps it wasn’t for me.
I still bookmarked the site, but I turned away disappointed and thought about what else I could possibly do.
A month passed.
I took several steps to deal with my situation, and I started making some progress – but it was way too little and way too late, and I became even more scared.
As a result, I stopped returning calls and checking my post-office box. At first, I avoided collecting my mail for days at a time – but eventually, I stopped doing it for weeks at a time.
My self-created disaster area grew larger.
I couldn’t think of what else I could possibly do…
…so I returned to the DA site I’d bookmarked and reconsidered, especially after I read Step 3:
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him” (emphasis theirs)
No, I wasn’t about to renounce my atheism so that I could go to DA…
…but thinking about Steps 2 and 3 together, how could and should I interpret them for my situation?
Some ideas started to form, and in a few weeks’ time I would be able to articulate what my Higher Power was.
But there and then, the first and most important thing was to get to DA because I needed help from myself.
I rang the contact number provided at the site.
A few days and ‘phone calls later, I was ready to go to the next meeting the following week.
I’d seen and heard a lot about AA meetings from others and in the media, but what were they really like?
I was nervous but also very curious about what perhaps lay in store at DA.
Finally, the big night arrived, and off I went.
Until the next installment in this series, stay well and take care 🙂