Recovering (in more than one way)

I woke up this morning feeling MUCH better! I got a lot sicker before I got better, so I’m glad I decided to rest. I even went to the doctor. They tested me for flu and strep, but apparently I just had a bug or a cold or some other untreatable illness. I treated myself with chicken soup and hot tea with honey. I also used my neti pot and some saline solution to clean out my sinus/nasal passages. When it got really horrible, I succumbed to some over-the-counter decongestant and a big dose of liquid Tylenol, since I can’t take NSAIDS post-WLS.

Now I have to catch up on a whole day of missed work. I guess I’ll be working through the weekend to get those hours back as my budget cannot afford any hits right now. The truth is that in the last 13 months I’ve made a hash of our finances. Last year in September we were out of debt and had money in the bank and now we are in debt thousands of dollars and there are no savings. I got a good kick in the rear from Rebecca on Wednesday. I mentioned something about still shopping when I’m bored or stressed and she let me have it with both barrels.

Cross Addiction or transference occurs when you exchange one bad habit for another. So smokers take up eating when they quit or drinkers start smoking or compulsive eaters start shopping. The result is that you’ve not really made the progress you think you have, you’ve just swapped out one life destroying habit for another. As Rebecca pointed out, financial problems are the number one reason that couples divorce. And I haven’t been exactly keeping my husband in the loop. I pay the bills, so unless he asks, which he doesn’t, he doesn’t really know what is going on. Since we had talked a few months ago about this problem and agreed that he would take over paying the bills, she reminded me that my continuing to pay the bills was a little like asking your alcoholic wife to mind the key to the liqueur cabinet.

So Rebecca made me promise to confess all and sit down together to figure out a plan and what we were going to do. I spent a couple of hours figuring out exactly how bad it was and then told him. He was pretty wonderful. Upset, obviously, but he controlled it manfully and stayed calm. He’s going to get quikbooks setup this weekend and start paying the bills.

I am going to put all my credit cards away and just keep a debit card and checkbook. It’s a lot harder to spend recklessly when you do it with cash. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to take a cash allowance and get rid of the debit card and checkbook as well.

If I can kick the compulsive eating habit, I can kick a compulsive spending habit. I have enough clothes. I have enough shoes. I have enough body care products and makeup. All the things I’ve been buying, using the excuse that it was part of my recovery. Now I need a plan for this like anything else. The good news is that unlike eating, I can quit cold turkey, something you can’t do with food.

I read up on twelve step programs and though I’m not going to be giving myself up to a higher power, there’s a lot of value in some of those steps. So here my version and the 10 steps that I’m going to work on until I feel I have this under control:

  1. Admit that I have a problem and that it has become unmanageable (done)
  2. Make a searching and fearless inventory of my weakness (done – but I suspect there is more lurking beneath the surface)
  3. Make a list of all the outstanding debts I have (done)
  4. Became willing to pay them all, do what it takes to meet those responsibilities (done)
  5. Confessed to my husband (done)
  6. Opened myself up to accountability (done – will have to keep doing this with weekly financial meetings)
  7. Am entirely ready to be guided by my husband and therapist The Twelve Steps. (done – I think this will be the hardest)
  8. Continue to take personal inventory and when I’m wrong promptly admit it.The Twelve Steps.
  9. Add the compulsive spending to my focus in meditation and steps to success
  10. Share what I’ve learned with others

It’s taken me a few days to get my head around all this. I was so mad. I spent a few hours in denial, raging against the idea that I’d taken the easy way out and transferred my emotional eating to emotional spending. But the numbers don’t lie. I’m spending more than we have. I’m putting my family in jeopardy. And if that is true, then I can fix it.  But not alone.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could become an emotional exerciser? Whenever I feel stressed, I would be overcome with the  need to take a walk or run a mile or lift weights. Now that’s a problem I’d like to try for a while.

I’ve got to (virtually) get to work now. Be gentle with yourself today, I know I will be.

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