A DA/BDA Journey: From Fruitless To Fulfilled
What it was like...what happened...what it is like today:
I felt like I was dying on the vine, again. I slogged home in April 2002 after another day of fruitless toil, full of despair. That evening, I prayed to God, or maybe whined is a more apt term: “God, I can’t believe that you brought me from destitution, prostitution, and hopelessness to this misery.”
Eight months before, I had left a successful career of 28 years to try something different, and it was not working. I am a fortunate person when it comes to jobs; every job interview I had ever gone on had resulted in a job offer. This time, I sent out 84 resumes and did not get so much as a call back, much less an interview. I felt completely desolate.
Several events then transpired, leaving me the sense that I was supposed to start my own consulting business. I have never been a person with any desire to start my own business; my mother died homeless and I have always had safe, secure, well-paying jobs. I worked my way through college (took me 11 years) and then 4 years of law school at night, working full time, and certainly was a self starter, but I was not interested in beginning a business. My sense from God was, “Fine, looks like you have limited my options – you won’t go where I am leading you, but you don’t want to stay where you are.” I felt helpless. Finally, after journaling, writing up a business plan, and working with my DA sponsor, I was ready to step off the cliff and leave the six-figure salary to start my own business.
As background, on November 8, 1990, I went to my first meeting of Debtors Anonymous, and while it was a relatively “high bottom”, I owed $47,000 and change in unsecured debt. I wanted what you had, and kept coming back and following suggestions. On April 17, 1991, I had my first Pressure Relief Group (back then in Virginia we called them “P Groups”). From then I put one foot in front of the other, did the steps in a slow and deliberate manner with a wonderful sponsor, and continued to have PRGs every 3 months. When my career moved me across the country, I kept working with both my sponsor and the PRG, as miracles continued to happen. I paid off all outstanding debt, and began living a prosperous life with an abundant Spending Plan. That is my DA story in a nutshell. I had not given Business Debtors Anonymous a thought. That all was to change, dramatically.
I had saved up 8 months of expenses before leaving the job of fruitless toil; it helped every day to know when I would be leaving, and why I was doing that job. I prepared a business plan, started having monthly PRGs, researched office equipment, got a business license, opened a business checking account, had a fabulous logo and web page designed by my generous sister, ordered business cards, and prayed . . . did I mention prayer? I worked with my PRG to significantly reduce my Spending Plan (we called it a Temporary Spending Plan – alas, no more $440 a month for a vacation fund!)
(Now I recommend to everyone who asks for my experience, strength and hope on this issue to have one year of expenses in savings, as things got pretty dicey at 8 months). When I left the job, I was full of gratitude and fear.
What did I do? I worked the Steps of DA. I was powerless over my fear of economic insecurity and my life was unmanageable. Every day, fear grabbed me, and every day I prayed and wrestled away from it. From my experience, I knew that God would restore me to sanity around having my own business. I turned my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood God. I prepared a daily schedule template with a set time each day for marketing (2 hours), business strategy development (1 hour), actual work (3 hours--in the beginning I didn’t actually have any work for this time, so I volunteered), and appreciation (1 hour for handwritten thank you notes to everyone who spoke with me).
I filled my office with inspiring statements or pictures (“What will I carry today, will it be fear or faith?”; “Wonder Woman Works Here”; mission/vision statements such as “I bring spirituality, integrity and competence into joyful service of others”; “I earn bountiful income from vibrant, appreciative people who are pleased to pay”). Every day I meditated to put myself in a loving, grateful place. To manage the fear, I said “OK, fear, you have 10 minutes today; go crazy” and I would awfulize for the 10 minutes and then say, “Thank you for sharing. Now I have to get to work.”
If fear came up during the day, I would say, “Oh, you had your chance earlier, and you will again tomorrow. Right now I have to think about something else” and I would pray. Every day I would look and see the fear or faith question and I would say, “OK, today I am going to pretend that I am a woman of faith. What would a woman of faith do at this moment?” and I would get into action.
BDA meetings helped immensely, reminding me of the powerful tools of the program and business debting issues. Hearing others share their experience, strength, and hope, has been invaluable to me. If nothing else, I get to laugh out loud at myself. (And frequently! “Those who laugh at themselves will never cease to be amused”).
Service is also an important part of my program, which I believe is essential to my recovery. BDA and my experience with DA demonstrated the importance of accurate and up-to-date record keeping, and I have been rigorous with my numbers.
I don’t think I completely internalized the Second and Third Steps until I began my business. I wrote a long time on the Second Step, and all the insanity God had restored me from in so many areas of my life. After all this evidence, who was I to say that God would not restore me to sanity around my business and my income?
Since 1986, I had been turning my will and my life over to the care of God in a variety of areas. But I had never left my career up to God, since that was an area that, at least from outward appearances, was a success. I was truly on my knees and went on blind faith, doing the footwork and leaving the results to God. I was almost in a panic toward the end of the 8 months, and was willing to sell my house when the evidence of miracles began to manifest.
That was 4 years ago. The results came. Although my business currently does not resemble my initial business plan, my income is greater than it ever was. My Spending Plan is no longer austere, but is abundant again. While I have not yet achieved a prudent reserve that is 6 months of my “nut” (monthly personal and business expenses), I am working steadily toward that, often two steps forward and one back, and am confident that I will reach that point.
My business has expanded in unforeseen ways, such that I have had two business/vacation trips to Europe and one to Asia in the last year, with more planned. I take 8 weeks of vacation every year to wonderful places, sometimes for touring, sometimes for relaxation. I go on a retreat and have a “spa day” once per quarter, a result of a PRG assignment to write a plan for preserving my business’ prime asset, which is me. I am funding a personal retirement plan and take great joy in paying myself first. I have a rich life with countless blessings, many people who love me, a home I love (even when major repairs are needed, such as an air conditioning system and dry-rot repair), fascinating work that compensates me well, and a relationship with God that nourishes me daily.
I am truly blessed. Thank you, DA and BDA!