Early on in my recovery I got a bonus check. That time, unlike normal, I observed my reaction instead of just acting. I usually have the same reaction every year, but that time I noticed.
I’m trying to always be in the habit of observing myself from the outside. I’m trying to see what I do out of habit and instinct and then ask myself why. I want to see if that reaction or course of action is still useful. Sometimes we outgrow our actions, but we still do them because we haven’t thought about them.
I saw this money and wanted to spend it all right away. I didn’t even think about buying presents for others. I didn’t think about sending some of it to a charity. I wanted to spend all of it on myself. I wanted a treat, or a toy. I didn’t want to buy anything I needed. I wanted to buy something I wanted. I don’t even have anything in mind. I just wanted to spend this money, and spend it fast. This is why for many years I didn’t have much of anything in my savings account.
I’ve gotten over that feeling for the most part. For the most part I’m sane. For the most part I save money and pay extra towards the principal for the house and car notes. But right then the desire to burn through that money shone like a torch. But I didn’t do it. I thought about it. I saw that feeling as the outsider it is. I saw it as a symptom. I saw it as being not really from me, not the real me.
I started to think about what that feeling meant. At first I thought that I was operating in survival mode. If I convert that money into something physical, I can see it. I can keep it with me. Just like wandering tribal people who move their camps with their flocks, I wanted to convert that wealth into portable currency.
But where does that feeling come from? I’m not planning on escaping. I’m not foreseeing any need to bug out any time soon. Even if the zombie apocalypse does happen, I don’t see that bartering with beads is going to be the mode of commerce. But who knows? It worked for the Dutch when they bought Manhattan. So I dug deeper. There had to be more to this feeling.
It was all about comfort and self-soothing. The previous month had been hard. Financially, materially, it was fine. Emotionally, not so much. There was a lot of upheaval in my family – too much drama and not enough sense.
When bad things happened in the past I used to soothe myself with eating sugar and carbs, or smoking either pot or clove cigarettes or both. I used to soothe myself in the same way that many people soothe themselves – to do everything possible to not actually address the situation itself. Sadly, a lot of our soothing methods result in even more problems. I’ve gotten past a lot of those soothing methods, but apparently I’ve not purged myself from the “need” to spend money to cheer myself up. I’m glad I saw it as the craving it is, and didn’t succumb to it.
We can all learn from our cravings. They teach us what we really are searching for. I didn’t really want to spend all that money. I wanted what the money could buy. And really, I didn’t even want that. I wanted what the things represent.