As a kid who didn’t often get what I required emotionally, I turned to different sources of comfort – usually, food. Of course, I didn’t realize that at the time.
I also have a very addictive personality. I become addicted to something very quickly, with great intensity. I’ve gone through addictions to food, to alcohol, to relationships – but the worst thing, frankly, is spending.
Now, I suspect I’m not the only one in the club. Buying material things to fill an empty void is very common, especially amongst those of us who are depressed or suffering from some sort of other mental disorder. Speaking for myself, I use these addictions to make myself ‘feel better’. Who here hasn’t bought something ‘because I’m having a shitty day’?
It’s very true, the saying that ‘the more you make, the more you spend’. I am very lucky to work in a province where most people make a higher than national average wage.
So why am I still ‘financially challenged’?
Well, since I was old enough to hold down a job (I started working when I was 14), I spent my money. Savings? What savings? Why do I need to save money? Now that I’m in my 40’s, I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.
Because, I buy things without thinking. I want nice things. I buy expensive clothes. I have an expensive vehicle. I spend a disgusting amount on rent, so I can live in a nice place. But most of my debt comes from little things – dinner out, gas, groceries – things that don’t seem harmful, but when it comes time to pay off my credit card – GULP! How the hell did I do that? I look at my statement and am shocked by my blatant disregard for being fiscally responsible.
(I am going somewhere with this; trust me).
So, I have a nice vehicle, a lovely condo with a great view, nice clothes. Yet, I’m still unhappy. All that money I owe now (okay, a good percentage of it) was spent trying desperately to fill the void that I have felt. To replace the sadness and loneliness I experience being on my own. To make me feel better after a crappy day at work. And – to show the world, that I am successful and happy and make lots of money and life is good.
Up until now.
I spent a week in my very favourite place on earth about two weeks ago. For three days, I was in a secluded cabin on the ocean, with no technology – just me, some books and the sea. I walked, I thought, I read, I cried, I slept and I dreamed. It was, without a doubt the best three days I’ll spend all year.
The last part of my vacation was spent with a very wonderful and dear friend. She is lucky enough to live there and part of the reason for my going was to help her celebrate her 50th birthday (which we did, in style – I might add!)
My friend is one of those people who just calms the soul. She’s funny, gentle, smart and is always at peace with herself and her surroundings. She just ‘is’. She’s never been one to fall for the ‘must have extensive amounts of material possessions’. Up until this last visit, I always thought it a bit odd that they didn’t have a television or buy new things. She gets most of her clothes from second hand shops and I’m pretty sure that nearly everything in her home (that she shares with her partner) was bought second hand.
And yet, she’s one of the truly deep down in her soul – happiest people I know.
What? But she doesn’t have fancy things! She doesn’t have a brand new vehicle! She buys her clothes at Goodwill! How can she possibly be happy?
Because what she has, comes from inside of her – not what she can buy. She couldn’t give a rats ass about anything materialistic.
OH. I GET IT. Well, I’m starting to.
I knew as soon as came back home, that I needed to move to where my friend lives. However, because of our ‘higher than the national average wages’ where I currently live, I’d have to take about a $15k to $20k cut in salary to do the same job there that I do here.
But I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.
For the first time in my life, since I can remember – I’d be willing to forego the expensive vehicle, the fancy clothes and the other crap that I’ve bought over the years – to live there. I feel a sense of calm when I am by the sea. My physical body feels like it loses about 15 years and I can walk for miles without hurting. My emotional being feels free, light and joyful. It is a place that I can truly be ‘me’ – without caring what anyone thinks of me. I am whole. I am good. I am love.
So, my goal is to follow my dream and hopefully – in the next few years – find my way out there. I’ll have to work hard to rid myself of the financial burden I carry – because not only does it make life difficult, it reminds me of all of the money I’ve spent over the years to make myself feel better. And, it did – in those moments – but now, I’m trying (trying is going to be the operative word) to find happiness from within myself, not from a new pair of shoes.