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!