I wanted to let you know that the Kindle version of the “Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders” is now on sale for $2.99 for a limited time!
Plus, the Kindle version is free if you buy the paperback edition!
It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted to this blog and I’d like to take a few moments to share with you what I’m now doing. Recovery from compulsive debting and spending is still a top priority for me. Gratefully, one day at a time, I’ve maintained my solvency since April 25th, 2009.
Hopefully, the hundreds of posts contained on this blog, along with the free “Fearless Budgeting” training program, the 54 podcast episodes*, and free show notes from the “I Can’t Stop Spending” podcast can help you on your own recovery journey.
Seeking Emotional Sobriety
Before you read on, the rest of this post is not going to be about compulsive debting and spending. So I just wanted to let you know.
Over the past few years, while I continue my personal commitment to solvency, I’ve turned my focus to seeking emotional sobriety, which has continued to be a struggle despite recovery from multiple addictions and years of Step work.
In 2011, a year after becoming disabled, a health coach urged me to find a creative outlet. My old life was gone. I was completely demoralized, scared, and lost. I had no identity without my work. Further, I’d been creatively stifled and smothered since childhood, so I was terrified to make even make the smallest attempt. Shame blanketed me. I wasn’t an artist. Therefore, it was a waste of time and energy to try. Plus, I would expose myself to ridicule … from myself … if from no one else.
But she continued to press me. Finally, I walked through the fear and self-judgment, and began a journey that has taken me to a level of creativity that I never imagined possible. In doing so, I found a surprising connection between creating art, sharing art, and the search for emotional sobriety.
It took me years to overcome my terror and feelings of inadequacy to share my art with others. And only this year (eight years later) have I been able to say (albeit with a knot in my gut) that I am an artist.
A Correlation Between My Deteriorating Health and Addiction
I've discovered that I'm an adult child of a dysfunctional family and have come to believe that trauma suffered in childhood has played a part in my multiple addictions. I learned early on that feeling my emotions was dangerous ("I'll give you something to cry about!," "smile," and "you're too sensitive” were all common refrains).
So in addition to my biochemical propensity toward addiction, I also used alcohol, food, chaotic relationships, and money as a distraction, a way to keep from feeling unbearable and unacceptable rage and grief. In fact, I’ve come to believe that my brain (mistakenly) sees the idea of my feeling these emotions as an existential threat and is just trying to protect me, as it would do if there were a saber-toothed tiger about to pounce. My brain will use whatever means necessary to keep me safe, whether through substances, processes, or symptoms in my body.
I became sober in 1992, abstinent with food in 1997, and met my current husband, who no one would describe as chaotic in the least, in 2001. My health issues were a growing nuisance, but not disabling by any means.
In 2009, life was throwing me a lot of curve balls, to put it mildly. I was cracking at the seams emotionally. So when I became committed to solvency in April of 2009, there were no active addictions left to distract from the roiling emotions that were desperate to break free.
My brain had to find another way to protect me. And so, my physical symptoms escalated quickly, to the point of disabling me in 2010.
After becoming disabled, my health issues continued to worsen with no help or hope in sight. Doctors became frustrated, dismissive, and annoyed because they could find no reason for the severity of my symptoms, even with the diagnoses that I had.
It took me another seven years to finally see that I needed a 12-Step program to address the childhood issues. And eight years before I understood the role my brain played, not only in my emotions, but in my physical symptoms … and how I could begin to heal my body.
Miracles on the Path
For the past year, in concert with my Step work, I’ve been doing a journaling process along with integrating other techniques to help me feel my suppressed emotions and teach my brain that there is no danger in my doing so. And, for the first time in my adult life, I’m now able to cry my eyes out without trying to stifle or bury the pain. That is a miracle to me.
I believe that being able to identify and feel my feelings is essential for emotional balance. It further strengthens my ability to sit in discomfort without reflexively acting out, which gives me time to think clearly and make good decisions about how (or if) to react.
I’m nowhere near cured of my physical symptoms, but I’ve experienced more healing than from any other treatment (traditional and alternative) I tried – not to mention, all I needed to do this work were a few books and some free videos. This is in stark contrast to the thousands and thousands of dollars I spent chasing cures that didn’t work.
Here are just a few examples of how this has worked for me:
1. My dizziness is more manageable and I can drive short distances
2. I’ve stopped migraines in their tracks once in a while
3. I’ve occasionally gone over a month without a migraine, and
4. A recent plantar fasciitis episode resolved on its own without any medical intervention
Sharing My Experience, Strength, and Hope (ESH) Online
I now feel passionate about sharing my ESH around the struggle for emotional sobriety and its connection with creative expression. This project began with my wanting to share the hundreds of art pieces I created since 2011. And so, I began posting the artwork on Instagram. Gradually, it evolved into micro blogging on Instagram about art, the painful creative process, chronic illness, and the search for emotional sobriety.
How to Find My Work
If you find my writing helpful and are interested in these topics, I hope you’ll join me in this journey. My handle is @HealingDoodle. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and on Twitter. Though I do have a website, I’ve only written a few formal blog posts and you can find them here.
Bill Wilson on Emotional Sobriety
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this off-topic post. But the truth is, I think that every addict in recovery is seeking emotional sobriety, as Bill Wilson wrote in 1958 for a piece entitled, “The Next Frontier: Emotional Sobriety.”