Letting Go: Why I am Pausing My Podcast and the Remarkable Poem that Led Me There

[Note: This post is derived from my podcast, “I Can’t Stop Spending!” where I talk about why I need to pause production on the podcast. In this post, I also talk about issues around recovery work and Tradition 11, anonymity, underearning, and more. Click here if you would like to listen.]

Photo by gnuckx [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by gnuckx [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I began my current recovery from compulsive spending on April 25th 2009. In 2012, I started blogging about my journey to help other compulsive spenders and debtors. The tool of spending plan has been a cherished spiritual weapon in keeping the demons at bay and I loved writing about how to use that tool.

It felt like my life’s mission was to spread the message of hope and practical action around recovery from compulsive spending to those in and out of 12-step rooms. I believe in a spiritual solution, which means that I can’t give you the answer packaged up with a tidy, little bow. But I can be a conduit to offer my experience, strength, and hope while you walk along the path with me.

So, while I can’t teach you how to stop compulsive spending, I can offer practical advice about how to get over the terror that keeps you from even beginning the process of developing a spending plan. I can share my own experience, strength, and hope around staying sober despite the pain we all experience emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually because of this debilitating addiction. And I can show you how to create and use a spending plan, which is vital to recovery.
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Resisting that Irresistible Urge to Spend

Click here to listen on our podcast site, “I Cant Stop Spending!”

Image by George Hodan

Image by George Hodan

Recently, I came across an article about a woman in the U.K. who had to keep a backlog of rent money because there were issues with the property owners being unable to set up a bank account for rent. The article said:

The problem [with the rent money] was only alerted to Ms Bracher upon [her] contacting the company in May, and it has been unable to tell her when the situation is likely to be resolved.

Ms. Bracher has a history of mental health and compulsive spending problems, and she is concerned she will be unable to resist using the accumulating rent for other purposes.

She said: “I have told Network Housing that I am in danger of spending the money and that it is causing a great deal of anxiety having the money in my account, but they do not seem to care.

As a result, I am not sleeping properly and it is having a massive effect on my day-to-day life and health.

They have put me in a vulnerable position as they cannot tell me when the problem will be resolved and I cannot cope much longer.”

Wow! I can sure relate to that. I clearly remember those days when having a pile of money accumulating in my checking account was gasoline poured on the fire of my compulsion to spend.

But I must say that I am awed by Ms. Bracher’s honesty and integrity around this matter. She reached out to them. And she had clear self-awareness of her problem. That buildup of pressure when we accumulate money is all too familiar to me.
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Why I Ignore Valentine’s Day and Why You Should Too!

I’m writing about Valentine’s Day in the hopes that I can convince those of you who fall under its twisted spell to see clearly through the deceptive veil that masks “the day of love.” As you may surmise, I’m not a fan. 

Now, bear in mind that this article is somewhat tongue in cheek, but only somewhat. I truly have disdain for this “Hallmark” holiday, which is, in fact, a trifecta of indulgence, a promotional conspiracy between the greeting card, jewelry, and floral industries to drive consumers into guilt spree spending. (By the way, this “holiday” has quite a violent past … but more about that in a moment).

If you don’t believe Valentine’s Day is a blatant manipulation by the industries mentioned above (along with anyone else who thinks they can find a way to get you to open your wallet in the name of love), here are some sickening Valentine’s Day spending statistics from an article called, “38 Surprising Valentine’s Day Statistics Marketers Will Love.”

Before I continue, I can hear you saying, “well, what about Mother’s Day?” To that, I say, wait until you have raised a teenager who is hormonally ungrateful and petulant 364 days a year, and you will understand why being guilt-driven on Mother’s Day, no matter how old you are, is a kindness and penance for those demonic years.

But I digress.

Bloody Beginnings

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Feeling Your Feelings

Background image by Brocken Inaglory (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Background image by Brocken Inaglory (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Let Me Start with “Jane’s” Story

I want to tell you a story about a fictional person we’ll call Jane.

Jane goes to a job interview that she really wants. She’s already nervous about making a good impression. Unfortunately, she senses the interview goes poorly because it was quite short. When she leaves, she begins to ruminate on why it didn’t go well. She replays it over and over thinking about what she might have said or done differently. She starts beating herself up, telling herself she’s just a screw up and thinking about all the ways she failed. Now, her anxiety over this is ratcheting up.

As her vague discomfort becomes more pronounced, she is feeling more and more aware of the pressure building. But she keeps trying to shove it down or ignore it. Jane goes about her day, but on this subliminal level, she’s continuing to feed herself these negative messages.

When she comes home, as soon as she walks in the door, her husband greets her by asking her to give him a hand with something or other.

BOOM!

Seemingly out of nowhere, Jane starts screaming at him that he’s always wanting her to do something, that he doesn’t appreciate her, that she’s had a long day and why can’t he let her be! Now, she’s furious, adding to the pot she’s been stirring her misplaced anger at her husband .

She storms off into the bedroom, slamming the door.

Jane is also a compulsive spender.

When she’s finally alone, when she has nowhere else to turn, she feels desperate to make herself feel better, to purge this alien tormenting creature that has grown to monstrous proportions inside of her, now finally overcoming all her coping mechanisms. She can no longer ignore the simmering emotions that have burst into flames.
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Why I Didn’t Pay for My Son’s College Education

Even though I really, really wanted to.

Photo credit: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

Photo credit: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

Just wrote this article that was published yesterday in The Billfold.

I was preparing to send my son, whom I’ll call “Ben,” to college in the spring of 2009. It was my intention to pay his way so that he wouldn’t have to work and could focus on his studies. In fact, this was my solemn promise to him (and to myself) since he was a child. It was the best gift I could possibly give him… or so I thought.

Miraculously, I had managed to put all the tuition money away in a state-sponsored college fund. I say miraculously, because my propensity was to spend far beyond my means. So I felt pretty darned proud of myself, having made good on my promise despite my proclivities.

But when we actually began the process of selecting the school, I discovered that in-state tuition was just a fraction of the total college costs. I would have to cough up another $7,200 a year to cover housing, food, books, and other expenses!

That’s when I hit bottom.

Click here to read the whole article at The Billfold.

Losing Your Balance

Click here to listen on our podcast site, “I Cant Stop Spending!”

crackThe one thing I know from decades in 12-step recovery is that I can’t do this alone. “This” means anything I can’t otherwise stop doing compulsively or stop using as a mood-altering drug, from spending, eating, drinking, sexing, Interneting, raging, underearning, co-dependent-ing, adult child-ing, “you name it.”

And when I say alone, I’m talking about my need for help from other humans, not so much the relationship with a Higher Power (or HP), which is fundamental to recovery, but for me, a big part of attaining that spiritual relationship includes my turning to others for help as well as extending my own hand in support. The fact is, my HP most often speaks to me through other people. Continue reading

Getting Off the Seesaw

Click here to listen on our podcast site, “I Cant Stop Spending!”

get-off-the-seesaw1I really enjoy articles from the website “Becoming Minimalist.” In fact, I sometimes repost them to our Facebook page.

In fact, just yesterday, I reposted an article from them called “The Story of Enough: Giving Up (new) Clothes for One Year.”

Without reading more than a paragraph, I clicked the Share button to spread the word.

The thought of how exciting it would be to go one year without buying new items in one or more of my own discretionary categories whipped up my adrenaline to nearly a frenzy.

But the fact is, it’s the idea of it, the past tense of having accomplished it, that excites me … being at the end of that year and having accomplished the goal. The actual pain of having to endure day after day after day without succumbing to temptation or desire … now THAT is a horrifying thought. Having gone through a three-month moratorium on all discretionary spending, I can tell you that for me, anyway, on many days, it was a nightmare of pain and longing, a battle royale with my addiction.

There is a Better Way

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