Lessons from addiction that we all can use

I cannot begin to imagine where my head has been these past months. Well, it has been on school and relaxing, honestly. I let us slide back into  spendthrift ways without a whimper of protest. It just goes to show that I need to pay attention to what is going on around me. Stress triggers spending. A little retail therapy is OK, right? Well, it’s OK if you go to the thrift store once in a while, but when you start spending on junk food, and clothes, and video games, and dinners out, it can get out of hand. And it did.

I’m a broken record these days. I keep promising that I’m going to do better then immediately go out and do the thing I’m not supposed to do. I start out with great intentions, I just don’t pay enough attention to what I’m doing. I tend toward routines and, if my routine gets interrupted, my whole plan gets thrown out of whack, and everything falls apart. It’s why I’m not still exercising, it’s why diets never seem to work for me, and why I keep falling back into old habits. It’s like trying to break an addiction. Relapses happen frequently if you aren’t paying close enough attention.

They say the universe tends toward entropy and I’m not sure that’s wrong. Trying to beat some order into the chaos of housework and finances seems like an uphill battle at times. Trying to do it while being environmentally friendly, thrifty, and ethical is like Sisyphus pushing his boulder up the hill. It keeps falling but you still have to push. Sometimes it rolls right over you, yet you still have to push. At least it’s possible to see some small progress in the journey that I’ve made so far: my thinking has changed dramatically; even when we were spending all over the place, we didn’t go into debt for it; and we are healthier in our diets than we ever were before. Even in my backsliding I’m not going all the way back to square one. That’s progress of sorts.

We do what we must and what matters is how many times we get up, not how many times we fall. Platitudes become platitudes for a reason; there is always some value in them. I will never be perfect, but I strive to be better. I’m trying to rein us back in and, little by little, we are getting there. We are getting caught up and planning how to use our money and our time more efficiently. So much depends on me because I am the only one I can change. But, what I do sets the tone for the family because I am the keeper of the money. I know if we have enough and I’m the one who has been giving the go-ahead to all of this spending. I just need to keep our goals in mind. We are starting to set limits again and trying to be more present in our dealings with the children and each other. We agree on what we want to accomplish and I’ve been the one forgetting and spending the most.

It’s a struggle sometimes. Especially with school being as stressful as it is – tests almost every class day, must-pass-to-advance tests and finals every 5 weeks. It’s exhausting and I’ve dealt with it by trying to buy convenience and relaxation. While I may not be able to quit cold-turkey, I can certainly be more aware of my reactions and my spending triggers. I can’t buy my way into a clean house and comfortable home. I need to put in the work and make it that way.

From the way I’m sounding you would think the rest of my family does nothing. That couldn’t be further from the truth. My husband is supportive in every way, and my kids are pitching in to do chores willingly and almost without complaint. I have been telling them we can afford to spend and buy whatever we want. I have been too lazy and tired to cook so we’ve been eating out a lot. While school is not likely to become any less stressful any time soon, I am starting to find alternative ways of coping. It’s one of the lessons that I’ve taken away from my psych class, especially the work with addiction. A part of any addiction is the habit of using. There is the physical dependency, the psychological dependency, and the sheer force of habit. I’m trying to break habits that I’ve had for most of my life. It’s not an easy thing. Obviously I am not saying that it’s anything like an addiction really, just that the idea of becoming aware of your habits and being mindful of your triggers so you can avoid or distract yourself from them is useful in any arena. Instituting new habits in their place is useful as well so that there is not just a glaring hole in your routine or your life. I just have to get back into my good habits and phase out my bad.

Anyway, this has, I’m sure, been a fascinating insight into my psyche. I really just wanted to share with you that nobody is perfect. We all struggle in our execution at times, no matter how lofty or well-intentioned our goals and sentiments. I have been struggling a lot lately and I think I’m finally figuring that out. We strive to be our best selves. Everyone does. Sometimes we even are for a few minutes. I have a ways to go.

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One Response to Lessons from addiction that we all can use

  1. Mama At Home says:

    I can totally relate to this. The distractions of life get in the way with my frugal intentions and before I know it our spending is accelerating. One day maybe something will click for me and the habits will stick. 🙂 Keep at it!

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