In the darkest years of my disordered eating, I would stand at the pantry, leaning against the door, grab things I wanted to eat, and just stand there, shoving them into my mouth. It was like I thought that if I stood so close to where the chips were stored, it wouldn’t count that I was eating them. Like I hadn’t properly committed, and so the consequences wouldn’t be real.
They were of course. And I gained pound after pound until I weighed more than I had ever weighed, before or since. Even after 55lbs of weight gain during my first pregnancy, I didn’t weigh as much as I did in the years when my compulsive eating was at its worst. I just couldn’t get enough, nothing sated me.
That is how I feel now, with my spending. I happened kind of suddenly, actually. I was doing pretty well, even after I’d decided to abandon my budget posts and my spending-freeze for a while. Then, out of nowhere, I was on Amazon every day, buying thing after thing after thing. The past five days have been like some horrible binge, and I’m not sure how to stop myself.
I feel like such a failure. I AM such a failure. The is no one single area of my life that I have failed in so spectacularly as spending money. I have always spent irresponsibly and I continue to spend irresponsibly, despite trying to change time and time again. I’ve tried committing to not buying anything new, I tried committing to a budget. I tried committing to a spending freeze. I failed at each and every attempt. I didn’t even last very long for any of them.
I don’t know how to do this.
Well, that’s not true. I know HOW to do it, I just don’t know how to MAKE myself do it. And none of the experts can help me because for all of them it comes easy. They just DO IT, and hardly make a fuss. A lot of them LOVE doing it. They think it’s fucking awesome to do it. So how are they going to tell me how to make it happen, when clearly there is something fundamentally different inside each of us, compelling us to act in completely different ways.
It’s like when the Ph.D in math tries to explain fractions to a kid who is attempting Algebra for the fifth time. Their incredible understanding of math, and the ease with which they learned it, actually hinder them in their attempts to explain it to someone who just cannot comprehend.
I am that person. I cannot comprehend. I’ve always considered myself someone with considerable will power and stamina. When I have really wanted something, I have done A LOT of things I REALLY didn’t want to do, to get it. So why can’t I do THIS one thing that part of me doesn’t want to do? Why can’t I exercise willpower over this one part of my life?
This feeling of powerless crushes me. There is only one other time in my life I felt this out of control, and it was when I struggled with disordered eating. It absolutely consumed my life, and made me miserable. It fueled my darkest depression, and remains the solitary demon that actually pushed me to the point of such despair that I considered killing myself. The only thing that was able to repair my disordered dependence on food was my medicine, which helped me learn how to have a healthy relationship with what I eat. But there is no medicine that can foster a responsible relationship with money. I have to figure it out for myself.
Except when I try to do that I fail. And I fail. And I fail. Maybe I’ve made some gains, but they have been so microscopic–if I keep continuing forward at this rate, I won’t get it right before it’s too late.
Because the thing with money is, at some point it doesn’t matter if you’re making the right choices, because you can never overcome all the bad ones.
I know I’m not there yet, but I also have no reason to believe I can turn things around. I’ve tried. In earnest. Many time. And while I have learned so much, I have not found a way to put it into practice. I still spend more than I can to save money. I still buy things impulsively. I still treat myself and reward myself and tell myself it’s worth it. I still do ALL THE WRONG THINGS, and I do them MOST OF THE TIME.
So I’m starting again. Again. But it’s hard to garner enthusiasm when all the empirical evidence tells me this attempt, like all the ones that came before it, will fail.
That I will fail.
Like I always do.
Is there something in your life you’ve failed at many times? Did you keep trying?