I have decided that every now and again I want to write a non-travel based post…I hope that’s okay with you all!
I have been thinking about how my relationship with alcohol and money have been connected over the years.
Looking back, both relationships would become erratic and uncontrolled at times of unhappiness.
When I was unhappy I would drink to the point of blackout.
And when I would drink, I would buy things.
Things I didn’t need.
Things I thought would fill the void inside.
Things I thought would help me to stop hating myself.
Which were the same reasons I drank.
When I stopped drinking I started examining other things around me that I was replacing for alcohol, and I found it was shopping.
It was a band-aid.
One day in a rabbit hole google search about shopping, sobriety, and mental health I came upon Cait Flanders website.
She was sober and she was blatantly honest about her relationship to ‘stuff’.
She was an inspiration–she’d paid off tens of thousands of dollars of debt, she’d done a two year shopping ban, and she’d put together one of the most compelling articles about how much money you save when you stop drinking that I’d ever read.
I was so inspired by Cait that last fall I decided to try and follow as best I could in her footsteps.
For the past 8 months I’ve focused on putting money towards debt and challenging my relationship with ‘stuff’.
And it’s been eye opening.
To be clear: I don’t think having things is inherently bad.
But I realized I had been replacing my relationship to alcohol with a new found relationship for buying things, and that didn’t really seem to be progress.
In the past 8 months of getting rid of most of my unnecessary belongings and not buying more I’ve learned the following:
- People and experiences over ‘things’
- Nothing I can purchase will give me the happiness of paying off my debt
I’m far from perfect.
Every once in a while I still buy something.
But I’ve started only buying things when I NEED them.
Not when I feel sad. Not when I feel ugly. Not when I feel lonely.
And it’s interesting how much it parallels the feelings I had when I first got sober.
I couldn’t hide anymore in beers.
No longer when I felt alone could I drink and feel warm. I had to actually feel ALL THE FEELINGS ON THE FEELINGS scale.
And by taking a few months to examine my relationship to ‘stuff’ it was like I was learning those lessons all over again.
One other thing I’ve noticed: my grip on ‘stuff’ is much looser.
If a friend comes over and really loves something and I don’t love or use it–they get to have it!
If something breaks, I’m not mad. It’s just a thing. It’s fine.
And I know deep down these are realizations I could never have made if I was still drinking.
Today I am grateful for sobriety, I am grateful for learning new things, I am grateful for second chances, I am grateful for failures, and I am grateful for growth.
Thank you for reading and happy sobering friends!