Updated: Sep 6
Being broke and in debt often has a ripple effect into every part of our lives. Even though it might feel like we’re carrying the burden alone, very often our financial condition impacts other people we know and love, including family and friends. As we finally take stock of all the damage that we need to repair in our life, we often discover that those around us are also negatively affected by our current state of affairs.
Just like our uncontrolled drinking usually affects and hurts our family and friends, we can also impose pain and suffering on our loved ones because we’re often penniless and need to borrow money from them. Likewise, they are forced to witness our painful struggle with debt and, sometimes, poverty. If you can see yourself through their eyes, you might recognize that your financial condition hurts them nearly as much as it hurts you.
In a more extreme situation, spouses and children often carry the burden when it comes to the financial choices we’ve made over the years of drinking and using. While we’re still active in our addiction, our families are usually the ones that suffer the most. Not only do they have to witness and endure our personal deterioration from substance abuse, they also often suffer from the results of unpaid bills, limited resources, debt collectors, destroyed credit, a lack of healthy food, and in some cases, homelessness.
We have to recognize and acknowledge that our bad financial condition is not only harmful to us, but can also destroy the lives of other people.
And what about the banks and creditors we owe money to? Are they to blame? Should they be scorned, criticized and condemned for the financial burdens they have imposed on us?
When I was new to sobriety and trying to clean up the wreckage of my past, I carried a great deal of resentment towards many financial institutions that I thought had harmed me. I held resentments not only against people, but against banks and credit card companies that were asking for the money I owed them.
My thinking at the time was; how dare they? Here I am trying to get sober and all they want is my money with interest on top! Why, the nerve of those bastards!
What I failed to recognize was that I had entered into a fair and equal partnership with these banks and credit card companies. Whether it was getting a loan for a new car, or running up a huge bar tab on a credit card, I had borrowed money from someone else (companies are made of human beings, not robots) with the agreement that I would pay back the loan with a reasonable amount of interest. No one forced me to enter into these agreements. I voluntarily signed on the dotted line.
Any time we enter into a legal and fair contract, we are responsible for honoring that contract. You might not like paying the bill later on (paying money after the fact always sucks), but you are responsible as an adult to meet your legal obligations. Blaming the credit card companies and banks for our own financial condition is pointless and self-serving. We have no choice but to accept the part we have played in borrowing money or securing credit. We must move forward honorably and meet our obligation as best we can.
Just as we need to make things right with the people we know and love, we must also meet our obligation to financial institutions and make things right with all of them, or we will never be free from the shame and wreckage we have created for ourselves.