Tuesday, June 30, 2009

lead me not into temptation...I can find it just fine by myself.

I'm really ill at ease today. For no good reason (other than that it's sort of a constant feeling that seems to ebb and flow within me), I'm immensely dissatisfied with our finances and our house right now. Both the size of the house AND the clutterfied contents. I'm feeling really jealous of other people today. No one specific, just anyone that has (and can afford) a bigger, cleaner house than I. I'm not even dreaming about McMansions here, right now...what I'd really love is a three bedroom house with just a little more space, a few more rooms. I'd like the bedrooms to be on a separate floor from the living space. I'd like the kids to have their own bedrooms. I'd like to have a dining room that could accommodate a decent sized table so I could tackle a family holiday gathering. I'd like a kitchen with an island, so I had more cooking space. And I'd like a mudroom, or some sort of landing at the door, so we could clean off the dogs when they come in and so we would have some place to store shoes, coats, outdoor gear, etc.

That's my dream right now. And if you've got something like that, I'm feeling a little jealous today. Sorry.

Mostly, right now, I think that I'm really angry at myself for choices I've made in the past.

I have a really hard time with anything I perceive as DEPRIVING myself. A really hard time. And maybe this is what I need therapy for, more than anything, because it is the crux of so many issues in my life. I want ice cream? If I don't get it I'm DEPRIVING myself. I'm going out? If I get water for free instead of that glass of sangria for $8, I'm DEPRIVING myself. One ice cream cone won't hurt. One drink won't hurt. But it's not just one, occasionally. It's one, all the time. One, one, one. All those one's add up. And over time, they've added up to overweight, overcluttered, and over-debted. I do feel like I've made huge strides in fighting this, but I still slip up way too often, and in the meantime it's really frustrating to look at my life and the things I really want and to know that, if I had only learned to control this tendency of mine better, I could HAVE those things now.

Life is all about choices. And I'm not very happy with most of my past ones right now. Past minor / daily choices, that is. Most of my big life choices, like kids and getting married, I'm just fine with. But my daily choices are generally a huge struggle for me, and I keep making ones that are just not helping me get to where I need to be. I break vows I make to myself all the time. I recently vowed that I wouldn't buy any more books for the time being...for an undetermined amount of time, until we're on better financial footing. I have plenty of books. I have plenty of UNREAD books to plow through still. And if I get a hankering for a new book by one of my favorite authors, I should go to the library. I haven't been to the library in ages, and one of the things I wanted to do when I stopped working was to start taking my kids to the library on a regular basis. I haven't done it yet.

Last week my mom asked me to go to the mall with her, just for the hell of it. And of course she wants to go to the bookstore. And I know there are some books I want to read but I tell myself I don't need to buy them, I have plenty I'm reading now, and anyway I can just go to the library when I'm ready to read them. I don't need to buy a book. I'm happy with this decision.
Yet somehow I come out of the bookstore with a book. I see a book by an author I like, and it reminds me he has a book out that I've wanted for a while. So I talk myself into buying it. I do it in stages. I tell myself that if it's a paperback, it'll be OK, because they're cheaper than hardcovers. But then it's only in hardcover and I STILL allow myself to buy it anyway. It's "just ONE book", after all.

I don't know what the hell is wrong with me. Why I work against myself so frequently. How I can set such defined goals, goals I can envision so strongly I can practically taste them, and still go off the path towards achieving them so many times.

I'm not looking for tears or sympathy. I realize that I have quite a fortunate life and that while I may not have many of the things I want, we do live quite comfortably and do have many things we want, we often have more than we need, and I certainly am NOT deprived. Even if I feel like it sometimes. I KNOW, consciously, that I'm not. I only have to look at the massive amount of things that surround me to understand that I've been quite fortunate over the course of my life. But as I have gotten older, I have come to deeply believe that this STUFF isn't what is important, and that indeed so much of it and the behaviors that have led me to acquire it have been unhealthy and have held me back from the things I REALLY want.

Sometimes it's hard to see when I'm standing in the middle of it, but I look back on a lot of the decluttering I've done and the pictures and videos I've taken and I believe that I do have a problem with hoarding. I may not be as bad as some people (as in the past, when I've congratulated myself on not having boxes and stacks piled to the ceiling like SOME PEOPLE do)...but that doesn't mean I don't have a problem.

I think, even without ever getting any kind of therapy for this, that I have come a long way on my own with this problem. I have gotten rid of so much stuff. And if you could see the sheer amount of stuff I'm planning on unloading at the garage sale, you'd have to agree that I've made huge strides. Sometimes I even have daydreams about opening up my entire house to a garage sale of sorts and just letting people wander through and make offers on whatever they are interested in. LET IT ALL GO. I now believe that I CAN let it all go.

But the practicality of doing that is still a struggle. I have a hard time letting it go for free, because so much of my money is tied into this STUFF. I am so disgusted at where I let myself get financially that I can't seem to just purge and donate. I have to at least TRY to sell it first. Then there's the sheer overwhelming factor of trying to deal with so much STUFF (and in a small space to boot). And there are objects I'm still tied to emotionally. Though honestly, I've found it much easier to pack away objects for selling. I have a MUCH harder time with paper clutter. Getting rid of paper is a giant struggle for me. So many tasks and so many dreams are, in my mind, tied to all those pieces of paper in my house. I should go home, dump them all, and just start the fuck over. But I can't. Not yet. I've dumped a lot, to my credit. But then I'll find another box of papers from four years ago (or more), and it just keeps growing and growing.

Another factor I struggle with is that the behaviors I've had for so long are so difficult to change. Even if I believe that I don't need to hoard anymore, even if I truly feel that hoarding is bad, I still find myself acquiring things from time to time. Like the book in the aforementioned incident. I did not NEED that book. But at the time I was standing in the bookstore, I 'needed' it.

It's tied to food too. I don't NEED to sit and eat a bunch of popsicles, or a bag of chips, or whatever, while I'm reading. But when I get the urge, sometimes, I 'need' it.

I don't NEED to have a drink when I go out. I don't need anything but water, which is free (most places, anyway). But once I'm out, I feel like I'm depriving myself if I don't just have one, so I do it. And then I kick myself later over the calories AND the money spent.

It seems like the only way to fight this, sometimes, is to not go out at all. If I don't go to the mall, or go on vacation, or go out with my husband, or go out with friends, we'll spend so much less money. I can't order it or buy it if I'm not in the store or restaurant, right?
But then I really AM depriving myself. Depriving myself of the experiences and the company of people I love.

So why can't I manage to have the experience without feeling the need to spend money too?

I'm really having a hard time fighting those impulses. I've managed to tone them down; I don't buy or spend nearly as excessively as I used to. And I suppose I should congratulate myself on baby steps. But I still buy and spend (and eat) more than I WANT to. (In the long term, anyway. Obviously in the short term I have the desire to be doing those things.) How do I reconcile my short-term desires and my long-term desires? How do I fight this battle without feeling so downtrodden and experiencing a form of buyer's / eater's remorse every time I do ANYTHING?

Sometimes those long term desires seem so far away that it's easy to give in to the short term. And then the next day it's like a cloud lifts from my mind, and I see so clearly that what I did the night before just put more distance between me and the long term goal. And it just depresses me.

I'm just trying to work it all out right now. I'm really frustrated by the amount of money we blew in June. I get a little panicky when I look at all the other things we've planned for the summer, and when we talk with friends about making more plans, and all I see are dollar signs. Dollar signs flying out of my pocket, faster than the speed of light.

Clutter, fat, and money. My three biggest roadblocks. All problems caused by the way I've behaved in the past, and ways I continue to behave now. All tied into the same, or a very similar, source somewhere inside me. I keep trying to understand why I behave this. Is understanding why necessary to make a permanent, lasting change? I don't know.

But I think, if I DO decide to pursue therapy for my problem(s), this entry is probably a great thing to print out and just hand to my therapist and session one. Maybe I do need a guide. It's really, really hard trying to change this all by myself.


  1. George is from a family of hoarders. This bothers me to no end. Our 640 sq.ft. apartment is filled with all sorts of stuff that George must keep in his possession. However, this past weekend we did take 6 boxes of books/DVDs to Half Price Books (online, stores across US) and came out with a stack of cash. I highly recommend it.

  2. The hardest part of getting out of debt is to stop buying the little things and to actually make it past the $0 amount. What got me on the plus side was planning our round-the-world trip - a huge reward for being good. A carrot like that really helped. Think about your ideal vacation or something you really want. Figure out that if you save, when you'll be able to get your reward. That way, anything you don't need but feel the urge to buy becomes negative dollars to what you really want. I do it with large and small. I want a USB turntable - it's only $100 but money is tight right now. So for the past month, I've been cutting back on spending (like going out to eat for lunch or fast-food dinner) to justify my purchase.

    Back to getting above $0, that is hard. I got to $0 debt three times, only to have a car break down, surprise bill, etc., pop up. It sucked. But persistence paid off, and once you get on the plus side, you find it unacceptable to go back into debt. I haven't had any personal debt since I finally made it over that hellish mountain.

    Hope I don't sound preachy, and I hope this helps. Just wanted to let you know I've been there, too, and you do have the power to overcome your obstacles.

    Your cuz



Related Posts with Thumbnails