Firing Squad

 

 

This week was a heavy one at work. On Tuesday morning we all walked into our workplace, but over a dozen of us were gone by lunch. I was not on the chopping block, but losing so many co-workers so suddenly has really shaken us all up. There’s nothing like a job scare to really get you facing the cold hard facts about your financial stability.

It’s funny that the mood in the office has been one of doom and gloom; aren’t the rest of us supposed to be sighing a deep exhale now, knowing we’re still gainfully employed? I’ve been through restructuring before and always on the better side of it, but it never has once felt good, or even mildly relieving to still be employed. I’ve realized that no matter if you land on the better side of the coin, you will inevitably look at your departed coworkers and think, “what in the world would I do if that was me?”

The worries running through my head once all the meetings with the managers and conference calls to break the news set in heavy. Having a colossal amount of debt due to my former shopaholism definitely has left me in a vulnerable position, so this restructuring has me particularly reeling. The empathetic ‘what would I think/feel/do if I was in his/her shoes?’ is a thought so grave for me it’s practically morbid – I mean, what would I do? I’m up to my eyeballs in debt and I could legitimately face bankruptcy if I stay unemployed for long. I haven’t been at my company long enough to get a severance package longer than just one average biweekly pay, and I don’t know how I would meet my minimums. I’d likely fall further into debt as I turned to credit so I can meet my living expenses if I didn’t have any money coming in.

That afternoon, having been allowed to leave the office early given the nature of the day, most of my coworkers hit a bar to take the edge of with a very common stress-reliever. But oh no, not this girl. Between the whirling thoughts, the pit in my stomach, the tightness is all my muscles and joints from stress, I was a bundle of nerves and I was seeking a quick hit of relief. I should have just gone to the bar with my coworkers. I should have just ordered a gin and tonic and got something greasy and comforting like cheesy fries or nachos to go with my drink and called it a day. But no, I was feeling stressed to the point of being full-on ill and I was in this dark tunnel of fear that I needed to numb ASAP. So I went to the mall.

To anyone just coming across my blog now, I need to interject to say I’m not trying to overcome some sloppy spending habits or rein in some excess “retail therapy” I indulge in; I am in the process of overcoming a bona fide addiction to shopping. The frustration, the obsession, the rush of adrenaline, the shame spiral, the secrecy, the guilt – everything you know about addiction to substances applies directly to my (former? current?) addiction to shopping and I’m trying to “get clean”, if you will. The way a struggling alcoholic might relapse into drinking after a trying or emotional time is how the desire to go shopping and get lost in this beautifully curated land of ‘promise’ gnaws at me when I need to numb stress.

The result wasn’t pretty. I started just kind of roaming about, distracting myself by all the sights and sounds of the mega mall from that gnawing, eat-you-alive kind of stress one would get by thinking of their financial ruination. The mall is on my way home, so for a brief moment I even thought I’d just use my birthday gift card to Starbucks to buy a sugary treat and hang by the fountain for a bit and try to take some deep breaths while I forgot about my day. But that didn’t last long. I did always want one of those nice wool scarves from Aritzia, and I do really like their Japanese crepe pants for work…in my state, that’s all that needed to go through my head to put forth the motion of one foot in front of the other to march myself right into the store and swipe that credit card so I can obtain those items. That’s all it took. No voice of reason or hint of guilt made any appearances during the process.

Now I feel remorse, mixed in with the stress of waiting for the next shoe to drop at work – because indulging in addiction never does solve the root of one’s problems, now does it? Besides remorse and guilt, I’m also elbow-deep in berating myself for handling the stress of financial uncertainty with – OF ALL THINGS – creating more financial uncertainty for myself! Trust me, the absolute inanity of this is not lost on me. The logic is never lost on me. I regularly read and enjoy the work of bloggers that give such poignant and timely reminders to protect themselves from financial instability with savings – for example, Pru has shared with me in her comments that she has found herself in a similar situation with being on the better end of a restructuring, which inspired her to pay off her mortgage early and generally be a rockstar of savings and investments. Jill just posted a brilliant reminder to protect ourselves for life’s unexpected moments with an emergency fund. But what did I go and do? I picked up a pair of pants and a pretty scarf. On sale, mind you, so a final sale policy cannot redeem me from my lapse.

Needless to say, I went over my budget. This time last week, I had an big plus in my budget from being super frugal from the New Year’s Day onwards; now I’m in the red by $160.00. I am not going to grant myself a pardon and wipe the slate clean; I’m going to stick to my budget and wait until my weekly budget accrues enough to get me back to the black. No pardons here, I’m not falling off the wagon for the figure I have planned for my debt-reduction for 2017. Given the expenses and bills I have coming up, it may take weeks and even a couple months until I’m back right again but that’s simply the reality of it and I’m not bailing myself out. The tendency to be lenient with ourselves, the “treat yo’self” mentality I ascribed to a little too zealously is what got me on a slippery slope to begin with. So to get back right, I need to recalibrate and make some extra cuts so that $120/week that comes into my budget gets me back to the black quickly, while also paying my bills.

It’s not the rip into the budget that upsets me most, it’s the succumbing to the pangs of addiction that really kills – especially after doing so, so well since 2017 rolled around. I faced a triggering situation and my resolve tumbled like a house of cards; a steady streak of constant, daily mental work crumbled once confronted with a stressor. I think I need to take some time to explore some other outlets for stress so I make it easier on myself next time I’m in a vulnerable position – I’ve focused so much on being entertained so I avoid the “lifestyle spending” and it’s time I expand into some healthy foundations that can aid with the natural stresses we’re all confronted with. I have some rough notes for plans with diet and exercise at the top of the list, with more time for reading, family time, and socializing as close seconds. Putting the gears into place for career development is also getting a special focus. I need to let that sit with me for a bit, and soon let you all know how it fits into my frugal plans.

It’s the end of the week, and a weekend with lots of puppy snuggles, family time, and reading in bed awaits. I hope everyone has a brilliant weekend ahead!

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7 Comments

  1. Be gentle on yourself. The truth is, you made a mistake, you recognize that, and you are taking steps to rectify it. I think you are very wise to look into new ways to handle stress and build from there. There will be ups and downs. Be proud that you are at a point where you can see what just happened and do something about it. You aren’t out of control, just human 🙂 it takes such courage to be this honest with your story. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey you have no idea who you might be helping and comforting with your candid honesty. I hope you start the new week feeling better! Jill

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement, Jill. Your comment gave me a much needed warmth sine I’ve really beat myself up about this. It was hard sharing this failure as I feel everyone prefers to hear about a success, a win, and then a “how-to” but that simply wouldn’t be my reality. I wish for wins and successes at all times for everyone, but I gather that many of us have valleys as well as peaks so I hope it brings some comfort and commonality to share some of the lows and be honest about how I got there and the ensuing emotions that follow. It can definitely be a roller coaster.

      Also, thank you kindly for making me part of your blog roll 🙂

      -FD

  2. OMG! OMG! FD I am so sorry to hear this. I am actually shaking because the memories of the last restructuring/downturn are still so vivid. And trust me I get this.

    When the last round had been axed at my company I went to a bookstore at lunch because I had to distract myself and I wasn’t planning to buy anything but then again I was giving myself full permission to buy anything in that store (anything!).

    I ran into someone from HR at the bookstore. She was all smiles and said hello, how are you etc. I responded that I was awful and stressed and worried and felt sick etc. And her response was “Get over it. You weren’t selected.” Running into that horrid woman made me not buy anything because I just wanted to get as far away from someone that was cold and unfeeling. (She was the one that the employees would have met with – ugh!)

    Addiction is an addiction. Remember it never goes away. You just learn little ways to deal with it. And yes you will occasionally slip. The key as you continue on this journey is that you don’t slide all the way down the hill – find a branch or a rock to stop the slide and then you do what you can to climb back up and keep moving forward.

    You are very brave for posting all that you do. And please remember that you are making progress. The awareness is so, so, so important.

    If you can return the trousers (and don’t need them), then do so. But you could also keep the scarf and make it symbolic. For example when you wear that scarf it could be a symbol (to you) of strength (because you are strong – you keep showing up, and you keep getting up). Or it could be a symbol to be aware and to be kind to yourself – always.

    Sending you virtual {{{hugs}}}

    Pru

    1. I’m definitely taking you up on those virtual hugs, Pru – thank you! I still feel this overarching sense of “ick” since that day…like a really overpowering malaise and overall icky, sick feeling. It is such a terrible shakeup when this happens that I am actually horrified at what that HR rep said to you; I think I would’ve totally lost it. I can only imagine what it felt like for your former coworkers to be let go by someone who harbours that kind of mentality. Gross….just gross.

      The visual of the rock or branch to grip on to is super effective, thank you for phrasing it that way. It makes me feel like the only outcome isn’t just to keep sliding but that I can stop the decline and hoist myself back up again. The goal is not stay down in the dumps for longer as I know being sad and fearful is a vulnerable place for me when it comes to spending so I really need to survey what I’m going to use as a prop to hold on to. I’m currently spending some time thinking about that and believe I’ll try to take a more holistic approach this time so I don’t expose myself to more vulnerabilties that leave me yearning for my old stress-reliever.

      Alas, all sale items are final sale so the trousers and scarf are here to stay. I really love the idea of using the scarf as a symbol. Wearing it very much reminds me of that awful day; I think from this point forward I’ll see it as the marker of when I fell but then showed up again to my plans the very next day, and then they day after, and the day after. Thank you for that, Pru.

      I’m always grateful to hear from you.

      -FD

  3. Hey FD – just checking in to make sure you are doing okay. It isn’t easy but you have a plan and you need to keep executing on that plan.

    Remember save a bit in your emergency fund and keep paying down debt.

    Keep exercising etc – to ward off stress.

    Keep cooking healthy meals and bringing your lunch.

    One step at time – just keep moving in that direction.

    Pru

    1. You’re wonderful, Pru *hugs* Your check-in means a lot.

      I hibernated a bit the past week to kind of … recalibrate. Like always, you’re right on the money: been trying to exercise (although I hate it so!), been eating well (even though the temptation for beer and pizza is particularly strong right now) and have plans to keep some money in my account with my next pay coming up this week. I’ve got a few “action items” I want to write about soon, in an effort to keep me going with this momentum and getting some good habits in place.

      One step at a time. I will most definitely take that advice to heart.

      -FD

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