I’ve been an epic failure this month. Just epic. To the point of breaking my own heart over how I’ve completely undone my debt advances and plunging myself into further worry and panic. I am $2,282.53 poorer than my last debt update, bringing my grand debt total back up to $63,006.53. At my initial post right around New Year this year I was at $63,270.00. So in 3 months, I’ve only managed to reduce my debt by about a measly $200. This was after about 7 paychecks and a year-end bonus in 2016 so far, which I managed to completely blow besides $200. I come to confess with a lump in my throat and tears down my cheeks.
So where did it all go? None of this is a surprise, I know exactly where it all went. I fell off the wagon and went back to seeking material goods to make me feel better about myself, to help me boost my sense of self-worth and self-esteem. I’ve had the same weaknesses/demons since I was young: new outfits to make me feel prettier, new makeup and hair products to make myself into something more “presentable,” and money spent online or at the mall in an almost euphoric or adrenaline-fueled haze that made me feel the highest of highs as I was swiping my credit card but has cast me back into this horrific low as soon as the high wore off. I’ve always turned to spending to make me feel better when I was feeling sad, low or empty, just like an alcoholic would turn to drink or an addict back to drugs. It’s a loss of control and an almost blind flailing to something tried, tested and true to make you instantly feel good – that ubiquitous band-aid that never mends the wound beneath.
I know it sounds almost silly but I feel like I’ve experienced this horrific thing – I feel a deep, gnawing sadness, I feel disappointed, I feel sick to my stomach, I feel disgusted with myself, I have waves of almost frenzied inspiration to make things right followed by a crushing wave of hopelessness and despair. I’m sorry this isn’t a happy, role model-type blog about someone who has it all right and can give you a nice, uplifting article with ten steps about how she saves money on XYZ and how you can do it too. I’m not there yet and I’m not that person yet and I don’t have it figured out and I don’t necessarily know how I’m going to make it better. I’m just a real person who is flawed and who is struggling with a very real addiction, who gets on the horse but then falls off the horse and sometimes needs to tend to her wounds before finding a way to clamber back on. I’m down in the dirt and I’m bleeding and it hurts more to know I fell off because of my own foolishness. Or weakness. Or both.
As I write this I remember a part of April Lane Benson’s book “To Buy or Not to Buy: Why we Overshop and How to Stop” where one of her patients described how she felt that she would be better off telling people she’s an alcoholic as they would likely understand more and judge her less. That’s always resonated with me, and I went to my bookshelf tonight to find the quote. I didn’t get to finding it as browsing through the book was just what I needed – April asking what it is we really shop for – is it love, acceptance, self-realization? Is it self-care and connections with others we are really looking when we spend money on material things? I’ve decided I’m going to go through the book from start to finish and commit to doing all the journal entries and reflection exercises. I may decide to post them here, as I’m sure there are others out there that are feeling exactly how I am right now and are struggling with either shopping addiction or an addiction of another kind and I know that could make one feel so distraught and hopeless, and I don’t think any of us should feel alone. I know downers don’t get a lot of readers and everyone flocks to a happy how-to in a blog. But I know someone out there will connect and maybe feel some hope that they’re not alone, not a complete mess-up, and not too far gone. And hopefully I’ll get to a point where I’ll know I’m not too far gone too.