CF2 = Church Friend Number Two
DD3 = Dear Third Daughter
DH = Dear Husband
Appeal of AA
I know three people who belong to AA, and whenever I talk with them about it, I experience a bit of a yearning. I feel the draw of their community. People shedding their pride; facing their shame; acknowledging the truth; opening up to support and healing; celebrating victory . . . That’s how I picture AA. And to me, it’s a very desirable picture.
Of course alcoholism is not the only affliction that people typically hide under layers of deception, and AA meetings are not the only venues for authentic relationship. I believe there are parallels between bad money habits – medicating with out-of-control purchases – and substance addictions. (See previous post, “Debtor’s Relapse”.) And I think I got a little taste of AA-style community last night when I sat across from CF2 at Tim Hortons, passing the time while DD3 was at soccer.
‘DA’ at Tim Hortons
CF2 has known about our journey out of debt from the beginning. A debtor herself, she has expressed a wide-eyed, head-nodding understanding of the challenges we’ve faced as well as an encouraging support for the triumphs we’ve experienced along the way. “I’ve got to get my money in order,” she has often said with a drawn out sigh, eyes rolling, head shaking, and a bit of a growl. But our occasional money conversations have always been initiated by me, spring boarding from something DH and I have experienced.
Last night, it was all about her. Included in the back-and-forth e-mails that we had sent each other to arrange our get-together was her message, “I’ve done some banking….we can talk about it then….in a nutshell………switching mortgages (institutions) paying debts off and paying them at a lower rate. I’m stressed…..” You can bet that got my attention. Not just a shake of the head and a sigh from CF2. She was getting real and taking action. And like many of us who confront our demons, she was unsettled, stressed, scared.
I picked her up, and as soon as DD3 had left the car to go to her soccer practice, I said, “So, tell me.” And she did. The floodgates opened. This time, I was the one with the wide eyes and the nodding head. Our conversation was spring boarding from her money reality, and it didn’t stop until we picked DD3 up again. In fact, it didn’t stop even then. And I really knew that this was special – not just a venting session – when CF2 blurted out her numbers. She had never disclosed that kind of information to me before, and I had never asked her to. She broke the taboo of her own volition; the truth was out.
When a man struggling with obesity actually discloses his weight to a friend; when a husband admits to his wife that his “harmless” dabbling in porn is actually a debilitating addiction; when the party girl goes to her first AA meeting and says, “I am an alcoholic,” it’ a sacred moment. And when CF2 shared her debt numbers with me, our little table at Tim Hortons was all at once a sanctuary. I knew that this was just such a moment.
And I could relate to so much of what she said. “I need to make a budget. I don’t know how much I spend because I throw out all my receipts. Before my appointment at the bank, I didn’t even know how much I still owed on my mortgage!” That’s the debtor’s head-in-the-sand syndrome. “I’ve tried to get my financial act together before, and I’m afraid I’m going to fail this time too.” That’s the debtor’s call to acknowledge, identify, confront, and triumph over agents of inner sabotage. “For me, it’s all or nothing. I’m no good at planning or detail.” That’s the debtor’s challenge to practice some measured and intentional discipline – which goes absolutely against the grain. CF2 needs to get current. (See previous post “A Report Card for June . . .”) She needs to dig into her bills and receipts. She needs to set up a spreadsheet. And she’s going to.
I feel honoured to have been sought out by CF2 last night – to have been invited to be a part of her journey. And it had the added benefit of energizing my own pursuit of debt freedom. There were misty eyes at our little table last night. There was laughter too. Beyond anything, there was authenticity. It was a safe place for vulnerability to be exposed, and it was fertile ground for powerful support to take root. I love that kind of interaction. I’m pretty sure it was just like an AA meeting.