Making a Mountain Out of a Molehill

As I wrote a few weeks ago, my blog will now be located on the “I Can’t Stop Spending!” website, where I also have a podcast.

For awhile, I’ll post a link here as well when there is a new post. You can also sign up to get each new blog post by email (the sign-up form is located on the sidebar of the “I Can’t Stop Spending!” site).

Click here to read the post, “Making a Mountain Out of a Molehill,” or listen to the podcast episode.

Ongoing, I’ll also be posting an inspirational reading from my book, “Getting Out from Going Under Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders.” In this post, it is December 14th: “Avoiding Pain.”

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New Blog Post & Podcast Episode Available: “Letter to a Suffering Friend”

As I wrote a few weeks ago, my blog will now be located on the “I Can’t Stop Spending!” website, where I also have a podcast.

For awhile, I’ll post a link here as well when there is a new post. You can also sign up to get each new blog post by email (the sign-up form is located on the sidebar of the “I Can’t Stop Spending!” site).

Click here to read the post, “Letter to a Suffering Friend,” or listen to the podcast episode.

Ongoing, I’ll also be posting an inspirational reading from my book, “Getting Out from Going Under Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders.” In this post, it is May 27: “The Enemy of Creativity.”

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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Paradoxical Reactions & Preparing for the New Year

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

godboxI have recently discovered that I am experiencing a paradoxical reaction to medication I’ve been taking for nearly a year. It is an antidepressant, but was prescribed to help my stomach pain and migraines. The most effective dose for me, which is higher than for others, also happens to make me incredibly sad and have a terribly short fuse. When I reduce the medicine even incrementally, I feel much better emotionally, but my other symptoms increase. That’s most certainly a paradoxical reaction because an anti-depressant is supposed to enhance your mood, not darken it!

So I am left with two choices, neither of which is completely satisfying; either of which will cause me to experience pain. My husband, too often the brunt of that short fuse, has a clear favorite. It’s my preference as well. But in making that decision, I am going to have to deal with the result of my choice.

I think this relates to how many people experience the holiday season. I’m recording this on Christmas Day, which, this year, is also the first day of Hanukkah. From Thanksgiving to January 1st, it’s supposed to be a jolly, happy, joyous time of year. TV ads and Hallmark-type shows pound that message into our heads.

But for many of us, for a wide variety of reasons, this is a season where we feel sad, demoralized, lonely, angry, and/or despondent.

Some have experienced the loss of a loved one during the year. Others may feel an increased yearning for a partner with whom to share the holidays. And still others may have grown up in dysfunctional homes and have negative memories that come flooding in during the season.

And for others, all is absolutely fine on the surface, but there is a just a palpable sadness around the holidays that we just can’t shake.

For compulsive spenders, the holidays may have given them a high, but they may be left feeling a letdown if they have gone to town buying lots and lots of gifts, because it’s now over.

Moving Forward

So what are we to do? One thing we must not do is to beat ourselves up for whatever feelings we have or tell ourselves that there is no reason to feel this way. We must recognize and acknowledge our pain.
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A Perfect Day for Recovery

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

As I write this, it’s a little over a week before Christmas and Hanukkah. And it came to me that it’s the perfect day to begin a recovery program or to re-commit to recovery around compulsive spending. What better time to let your addiction know that you mean business then to affirm your commitment in the midst of the frenzied spending around the holidays.

In fact, if you suffer from any addiction, now is the time to get the help you need to become and stay sober or abstinent or clean or solvent or authentic or whatever describes your addiction. This is the season of excess, whether it’s food, money, sex, alcohol, people-pleasing, anxiety, sadness, anger, or whatever else you are powerless over.

I’ll tell you why this came up for me today. I attend a Debtors Anonymous (DA) meeting where we read and share on DA pamphlets. This week, while working through the Recovery from Compulsive Spending pamphlet, we read and discussed “suggestions that have helped many D.A. members recover from the pain of compulsive spending.” (from the pamphlet)
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Gift Giving Guilt

Want to hear the podcast for this post?
Click here to listen on our podcast site “I Cant Stop Spending!”

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The holidays are upon us. Well, almost. And I’m hoping this post will give you the space to pause before lurching into yet another December avalanche of spending you can’t afford because you feel guilty about only spending what you can.

Look, emotionally, I’m pretty much right with you. A big part of my compulsive spending was around gift-giving. Giving extravagant gifts really gets me high. Picking just the right and special and, of course, expensive item was the way I proved I love you or, at least, was the way you’d remember that I am a great gift giver.

And then, there are the office presents, or those that we feel we just “have” to buy even if we feel annoyed and resentful about doing so. Even then, we might sink into feeling competitive or just wanting to ensure we don’t look cheap compared to everyone else.

In recovery, we may still suffer with some of those feelings. But the difference is that we don’t act on them. When we fund our gift-giving categories, hopefully, beginning in January in the case of December holidays, and annually prior to birthdays, etc., we become clear about how much we will spend in total and fund each category with 1/12th of that amount each month. Then, when it’s time to buy the gift, we may still feel like it’s not good enough, but we can also find peace knowing that we are living within our means. Over time, as we practice giving gifts that are reasonable based on our income, the pain of not being the gift-giving big shot subsides.

So, I’m posting this on December 11, 2016. If you’re reading this today, you have two weeks until Christmas. Hanukkah begins on December 24th. I’m not sure when other gift-giving December holidays fall this year. But, if you’re like me, you have waited until now to begin the frenzied shopping that, I promise you, will not change the recipients’ life one bit. So, I urge you, before you enter the fray, which will, I promise you, cause you to not to think clearly around spending your money, please take some time now to make a list of all the gifts you need to buy.

Then, if you don’t have a spending plan, ask your Higher Power to help you be right-minded about how much you can afford. In fact, and this may sound shocking, I know, but ask your Higher Power if there is anyone on your list who really doesn’t need you to buy him or her a gift, someone who would prefer the gift of your time, a hand-written letter, or maybe a home cooked meal instead. Or maybe, a charitable contribution in honor of one or more people on your list would be far more beneficial than more stuff that they eventually feel a need to declutter and get rid of them.

Now, go back through that list and write next to each person either a maximum dollar amount you will spend or the more meaningful alternative you have chosen. Add up the amounts.
Now, this is where the rubber meets the road.

Ask yourself:
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Do You Have to be a Debtor to be in DA? Plus a great site for shopaholics!

A few months ago, I came across Debbie Roes’ extensive site for shopaholics called Recovering Shopaholic. While her site is not 12-step focused, she has wonderful, practical tips and suggestions for shopaholics. And recently, I wrote an article for her blog called Debtors Anonymous is Not Just for Debtors.
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