THE BOTTOM LINE
Volume XIV, Issue 1
Letter from the Editor
Don't give up before the miracle. That's the slogan I keep in mind these days.
For me, the written shares in this issue are about not giving up.
In recovery I am able to face pain I never expected to be able to face.
Today insted of running away, I let the accumulated wisdom of the program
carry me through mu pain to the other side of it, where I find a miracle.
And miracles are common in this program.
Waiting For My Ship To Come In a.k.a. The Disease of the Big Check
By Dan K.
In Early January,1997, I received a very I unexpected phone call, MY MOTHER.
I had been estranged from her since the summer of '91 (pre-DA) over a money dispute
and had pretty much written her off from my life at that point.
She called to tell me her father (my grandfather) had passed away at the ripe age of 92.
We exchanged small talk, though there was an emotional undercurrent, THE WILL!
My grandfather had been an immigrant from Yugoslavia raised during the Depression
and had saved a lot of money over the years. In short, a man who never made more than
$20,000 a year had accumulated about $300,000 by the time he died (talk about prudent reserve!).
Cut to Christmas 1998 -
My mother and I had come to an emotional impasse. I had worked out,
with the aid of my accountant, an "offer in compromise" with the IRS,
which came to a "lump sum settlement" of $8,000, accrued during my
drinking / drugging / debting days.
My mother was still mired in her Valium addiction, however.
Earlier that year she had committed to "sending me the Big Check"
that would solve all my problems ....
The long and the short of it is this: instead of sending me the funds,
she sent an angry, shaming letter to me accusing me of a whole panoply of "sins"
I had supposedly committed against her, (and this was after I sent her
a 9th Step amends letter!). I spoke about this at great length at DA meetings
during this period and finally sent a reply letter on my 41st birthday, 1999,
putting my mother and all her insanity back on the shelf where it belongs.
I am now doing another set of Steps on this issue with my sponsor and have decided
that my mother and money has always been an uneasy mixture (my parent's divorce
over my mother's out of control debting, for example) and that I am capable of
generating my own prosperity and abundance with Higher Power's guidance.
I feel that a great weight has been lifted from me now that I've decided to become
a "worker among workers" and stop looking for the "quick fix".
Dear Friends and new members of the fellowship,
I really want to taIk to newcomers, but "firmly established" debtors may join the crowd.
As soon as I have said this firmly established stuff, I realize how silly it is.
But then part of my business is silliness as I am a performer.
I am thrilled to write about one particular expenence that I had in the process
of communicating with my creditors in 1993. I have not debted since August 3, 1995
when I bounced a check. I believe the person who cashed the check went to the bank
a day early. It could always be someone else's fault.
In 1991, I owed about $18,000 in credit card debt and this represented a small
percentage of my debt. My biggest debt was for S7,656.79, roughly, to American Express.
I was frightened to open my mail or take phone calls from my creditors, and I believe that
I may have even lost some paying jobs because of missed calls. In August of '91,
I had a pressure group and my pressure people told me that I need clarity about my
CREDIT CARD DEBT. Also, that I need to call my creditors and begin a dialogue using a "script"
if I needed to. And I needed to. When I told my creditors how much I could realistically pay,
most of the collection people that I talked to would say things like, "Well that's not gonna work."
or "Don't you have a relative who will lend you the money?" Having borrowed a good deal of money
from one such relative, I could only say, "I have tapped out relatives". I began paying out $20.00
here and $47.00 there and started wiring money via Westem Union to a collection agency who
represented American Express. Every month I would call a representative at Credit Converters,
a Minneapolis-based collection agency who would give me a Western Union number to wire the money to.
During 1992, I made many visits to my local Grand Union, sometunes at 11:55 at night.
Now that is dramatic and the cash register attendants were my new friends and the woman or man
who did the wire transaction would become my guru. "Depressed and downhearted, I took to the whine,
Now I'm doin' fine on CLOUD NINE" Just a musical interlude.
To continue, when I would arrive at the Grand Union, I would phone up the collection rep,
get the number to write on the wire, and then send the money. Sometime in the end of 1992,
I had become very comfortable with my script and my responsibility as someone who had taken
someone else's money and was happy to be able to pay it back, regularly. I began to get
the same rep who I will refer to as Mr. B.
Mr. B was much more empathetic to my plea than any collection agent I had ever spoken with.
Just before the Christmas holidays, things were tight for me and I called Mr. B. from my home
and said that I was really having a tough time and would not be able to wire the $50.00.
He said to me, "Well, what can you send"? I told him that I could send $20.00 and I remember
his response as if it were yesterday! He said, "Okay, that will have to do, JUST FOR TODAY."
I understood, immediately, that even a relationship with a creditor could be a spiritual relationship.
I started laughing and said to him, "Are you a friend of Bill's"? He said, "No, I'm a
friend of Bill's brother" and proceeded to tell me about the Twelve Step Program that he belonged to.
I told him about D.A. and my goals and what I had learned so far. It was a long and friendly
conversation. When I hung up the phone, I remember thinking that the action I had taken had
transported me from my fear and paralysis to a place of hope and assertiveness. I was and am
very happy to be part of the Fellowship; that is the Fellowship of Debtors Anonymous and
the Fellowship of Man.
Thanks for asking me to share my experience, strength and hope,
THE GROWTH PROCESS
I woke up in the room of the hotel where I was staying in Los Angeles.
The first thing I saw was a fire sprinkler hanging from the ceiling.
These are three hundred-some of sixteen hundred plus words that came to me
as a result of that. I work every day at building myself and from that
I came to know certain things. The process of growth, of building a person
is an inside-out process, if it is to be the most effective one. Exactly like
the process of building a building. We human beings, get very confused and frustrated
when we want to go the other way around, from the outside-in. In real estate terms
it would be like deciding what look and material the facade of the building should have,
without having actually built the building. For the facade you need the walls,
for the walls you need the foundation. You need to go down to go up, you need
to go in to go out. The deeper you go down, the higher you can go up. The sounder
the foundations, the more enduring the walls. If they put a toilet seat without having
built the discharge plumbing system, you can rest assured none of your friends will visit you.
When it comes to us as persons, we want to bave the "facade", the "outside" up
before we even have the foundation. And we get angry and resentful if the "facade"
doesn't stick. In program I leamed that the Steps are the work I have to do to establish
sound foundations and the Tools are there to help me do the work. I like program
because it contains the Promises, and the Steps because they are simple principles
to live life. I also like program because the Steps end with Step 12, where I am
called to use the principles I learned in all the affairs of my life.
The final destination is in fact life and in a well balanced human being,
the outside has the same importance of the inside, as it is its manifestation.
After all, imagine the entire fire security system (the inside) of the hotel I'm
staying at without the sprinklers (the outside), or Times Square with all its
infrastructure and technology, foundations and walls, but no exteriors, no "outside".
CELEBRATING SEVEN YEARS
At the end of March, I celebrated seven years in this rich fellowship. They say it's not
about the money; although on some level we all know it is. The paradox for me is that
I can't express all the gifts and abundance I've been given as a number on a bank statement.
However, I am asking God at this moment in time, why I'm not earning enough money to
take care of myself. The answer to this question is complicated and the whys are not as
important for me as the small, valuable, daily actions I've learned to take as a result
of this program. This desert experience which I'm currently plodding my way through is
testing the strength of my faith and hope muscles developed over these seven years.
I'm having difficulty paying rent and utilities for the first time in ten years.
Also, I've never owed money to the IRS until now. I need to accept these facts before
I can make changes.
I recently had a pressure meeting after not having one for several months.
I'd decided to stick with the winners and my new pressure people certainly met that criteria.
It's a sign of my recovery that I do feel I deserve these successful people.
My experience has been that I've never gotten what I think I'm going to get from
Pressure Relief Meetings. This time I envisioned loads of TLC and sympathy for my
difficult situation. Instead, I got some sobenng obseIvations, an ideal spending plan,
and a manageable action list. Without my having to ask, another meeting was scheduled
for the following week. I showed up for this second meeting and this time left with
burdens lifted, feeling so much better than when I had arrived. It was suggested that
I increase my eamings with freelance magazine writing and this felt like a good direction
to take. I wrote an affirmation at the meeting which ties in with my vision of doing research,
writing books and teaching at a university in Scotland. Although completely terrified,
I have enough recovery to know that this is probably a very good Sign.
IT,S ABOUT HITTING A BOTTOM; NOT SPANKING A BOTTOM.
By An Anonymous DA Member
* Co-dependent with DA = being "concerned" about the meeting.
I need to let the meeting take care of itself and keep the focus on my recovery.
* The "flow'', the interconnectedness among all beings, is money.
* Not wanting to wear suits because it's cheaper to clean jeans.
* Not being able to "afford" a shoeshine.
* Artists don't do math.
* Doing things for "free", because then I'm under no responsibility.
* Afraid to receive the abundance.
* Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave me,
and I'll be able to speak up for myself.
* Emotional blocks to making money. A tendency to not allow money into my life.
Guilt and shame holding me back.
* I know I'm going crazy around money when I get suspicious and start to worry.
* DA actions = letting go.
hi i'm maiyah,
i've been abstinent from debting since 12/5/1999 at that time i began writing a lot of songs
if you think it appropriate, i'd like to offer the following lyrics for publication
in the bottom line.
peace, & thanks for all you do, maiyah
thy will not mine maiyah, 1/2000, lapislazulimuzik
help me to reveal my soul
and relinquish my rigid control
despite good intention i'm in a dark hour
and i need to be healed by your loving power
thy will not mine, spirit divine
thy will not mine, spirit divine
for years i've struggled to master my fate
now intuition bids me stand and wait
singing pure love is coming to guide your way
to reap its blessings all you have to say is
thy will not mine, spirit divine
thy will not mine, spirit divine
The Bottom Line is sponsored by Debtor's Anonymous Intergroup of Greater New York.
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