Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 56 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.
In the commercial world that is the core of the economic society in which we all live and work, the experience of bankruptcy, along with the economic impacts of death and divorce, is one of the horrors that some of us have to experience. We can define bankruptcy as insolvency, a condition in which the financial equity in one’s organizational structure or life system has been entirely exhausted and the ability of cash flows to service all sorts of debt obligations is nil; it is an experience that horrifies us and the commercial worlds in which we all live. There is a set of laws called the Bankruptcy Code (the “Code”), formerly known as Title 11 of the U.S. Code of laws and regulations which governs precisely how the process of bankruptcy is meant to work to allow individuals, corporations and other organizations to resolve the conflict presented by their debt obligations and, then, to be rehabilitated.
I have had some experience in this world and it strikes me how it resonates so powerfully with the experience of addiction, the descent into its worst nightmares and the process to recover and build a sober life. I have come to believe that life in our economic world is replete with people that span the full range of experiences, from those for whom success and wealth seem to come with consummate ease, to those who just can’t keep it together and are always on the edge of, or deep in the throes of insolvency. It is much like the range of experiences of all humanity with addictive substances and behaviors. Many of those at the dark end of the economic cycles are increasingly caught in the web of insolvency as a result of a spendthrift and wholly irresponsible patterns of life. They seem powerless over the experience of living beyond their means and their life increasingly becomes unmanageable.
The process of recovery for such people is also much like that for the alcoholic and addict, working with consultants, therapists, family and friends to discover a new way of living and managing daily affairs. There are many parallels in the descent into bankruptcy and the process to recover to a sound and responsible way of living.
I have a good friend who has worked in this world most of her life, helping debtors to migrate through the myriad of processes that the Code provides. I was at a meeting with her one day, where a number of distressed debtors – individuals, couples and small companies – sat in a large room ringed with small alcove offices. The small offices were occupied by officials of the Court system and the meeting, called a Chapter 13 meeting in Texas, was to allow for the Court system and the debtors to come to terms with the precise nature of the debtors’ insolvency and develop a procedure for its resolution to be presented to and approved by the Bankruptcy Courts themselves. As different debtors were called to a particular office my friend went with them, as their counsel, to explain and arrange each of their processes of resolution. As I sat there observing, I was struck by the fear and anxiety on the faces of the debtors and the ease and comfort of my friend’s manner in working with them to a resolution. She was an “angel of mercy” moving about the room, very much like the presence that recovering alcoholics who serve as sponsors have in a room full of distraught and anxious newcomers of AA and its sister12 step programs. Both are wonderful experiences to witness, the newbie alcoholic starting to work the steps with a sponsor and the bankrupt beginning the processes of financial rehabilitation with her/his counsel, both nurturing recovery with a presence of deeply committed service.