During a 12 -step recovery program, I called every one of my creditors and told them that , is not merely was I an alcoholic, but that I couldnt afford to pay them back
The first time I had to face the fact that I was in fairly substantial debt over $10,000 and with no income to speak of or any idea how I was going to pay it back I was sitting in rehab for medication and alcohol addiction. Dont get me wrong, there had been signs before then namely the unopened bills I maintained throwing in the trash, the collects calls I changed my phone number to avoid, and the people who showed up to my mothers house to arrest me but being in treatment was the first time I actually admitted that I couldnt run from this problem for ever.
The stack of bills arrived in a manila envelope, courtesy of my boyfriend who was back at home, and I began the anxiety-induced task of opening each and every one of them. I had no idea what I owed because I had spent the last eight years throwing out all my mail. All I knew was that, between the credit cards Id opened in my late teens and very quickly maxed out on luxury items, and the medical bills Id racked up from the consequences of drug- and alcohol-induced illness, it was a lot.
The thing that made my indebtednes different from so many other people is that it was not the outcomes of predatory lending, unjust student loan practises or employing charge card to fill gaps in my income. My indebtednes was 100% an expression of the results of my own irresponsible behavior.
As part of my 12 -step recovery program, I was required to take responsibility for my actions and to continue efforts to stimulate them right where I had been incorrect. I had been incorrect to hide from their own problems that were very much of my own induce. Instead of calling my creditors and owning up to the fact that I owed fund that I didnt have, I avoided the questions all together. Unsurprisingly, this built everything much worse.
Its a humbling experience to call every one of your creditors and tell them that , not only are you an alcoholic, but you owe them money that you cant afford to pay. But this was Step 9 of my 12 -step program making amends. At the time, I was living in a sober house and earning$ 7 an hour scooping ice cream; stimulating even the minimum monthly payments on all of my bills was out of the question. But what I observed was that, by being honest with the collect agencies, they were willing to work with me. I set up payment plans of$ 5 or $10 per month with everyone I owed. It was a start.
Over the course of the next four years, I slowly paid off all my indebtedness. After a while, I was able to increase my monthly payments because I get full-time job. But even with my debts down to$ 0, my past hasnt gone away. My credit rating is still very bad, constructing it impossible in order to be allowed to get approved for even small loans for things like necessary mends to my home or a vehicle that would be more appropriate for my growing family.
Its a constant reminder that fixing my blunders takes time. Ive already begun the painstaking undertaking of credit mend, working with a friend who specializes in the issue. Every month we satisfy, combing through my credit reports, stimulating calls to confirm that debts are mine, sending letters to access the information I require and doing the hard work of cleaning up the wreckage from my past.
This wreckage no longer only affects me Im married with children and the results of my irresponsible behaviour when I was in active addiction are affecting their own lives. But what this process, and my recovery, has taught me is that I have to change the route I deal with money.
No longer can I rob Peter to pay Paul. Its not an option for me to take money from one account to buy shoes with the intent of putting it back afterward. I cant open up credit cards that I wont are allowed to make payments on. I cant miss bill pays and, if I need to, it requires me to call the company and explain why. I know these arent options for everyone and I acknowledge that doing this requires some component of class privilege, but this is what works for me personally.
Being in recovery entails living frankly and changing past behaviors that were destructive. Some of those are around my relationships with people, but it also includes my relationship with money. Its a lot of work. I have a strict budget that I dont stray from and some months are incredibly tight. But I can go to sleep at night with a clear intellect and a clear conscience and thats a gift.
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