Sober in Vegas: Thoughts on money and sobriety

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!

desert skies sunset.jpg

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!

 

 

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24 thoughts on “Sober in Vegas: Thoughts on money and sobriety

  1. Being Bipolar and an alcoholic I often went on shopping sprees but mostly when I was sober and manic. It was shocking to people around me how I could go into a store, buy a $150 bottle of perfume and move on to the next store like it was nothing. Spending sprees are common with manic episodes but I also always had this thought in the back of my mind “If I just had the right (fill in the blank) people would like me”. Thinking that a shade of lipstick was going to make someone love me sounds ridiculous but it’s how I thought. When I stopped drinking I replaced alcohol with cookies, brownies, anything sweet. That’s common to do and I had sweet tooth to begin with. Clarity can be good. Finding a healthier way to deal with situations is the hard part for me.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. yes yes and yes. oh my goodness yes. I absolutely know what you mean about the “if i just get the ___ it will make me feel whole” and it becomes a kind of obsession…sweets is another one for me too…I have to examine how I’m doing if I am trying to make a meal out of jellybellys and ice cream….like…what is really going on if I haven’t eaten a single vegetable today? ❤ just know you are not alone, so many of us are struggling and taking the time to ask ourselves is half the battle ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Recently I felt like I was going insane, I wanted to crawl out of my skin or I was going to literally combust. I quit drinking about 10 months ago. Honestly didnt even want that because of the consequences and the chunk of self esteem it would take. Drugs. Always want drugs. Been almost 2 years since I used them but man. Anyways that was out of the question because I intentionally moved myself 1000 miles away from all that BS. Without those two things, all I have left is food and cigarettes. I didn’t want to binge though. Fetal position, bawling my eyes out, FEELING rejection and loneliness, completely sober. But guess what? I didn’t cry about that again. I do get sad about the situation but that raw initial feeling has passed because I allowed myself to feel it. I tend to shop when I’m happy and (think) I have money. But mostly because I NEED new clothes. Even though that $35 shirt gets old after the first wear and I still dont like how anything fits me, given the 40 pound weight gain I accrued after my geographical cure. Wherever you go, there you are! One thing about sobriety, though, is I find myself growing and learning from my mistakes, moving forward.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. good for you on your sobriety and healthy life changes–that’s alot of work! and yes, wherever you go indeed there you are! 😉 good thoughts to you on your journey and thank you for sharing

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m not someone who grows or learns from their mistakes in the usual way. I have learned some things but after 9 years of sobriety it isn’t really the alcohol I want it’s the pain and awareness to go away. Being Bipolar and now knowing my medications have not even been reaching my brain for probably the last year and half it’s been pretty bad. I haven’t felt this bad since my late teens early twenties. I had alcohol then and friends. I have neither now. That raw loneliness, rejection, and feeling unwanted or like a mistake is constant. I try to binge watch movies to distract myself it’s the only thing that seems to work right now until I see the Doctor about fixing the absorption problem.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. so sorry to hear you are in this place right now. I hope you can get some good care from your doctor, and be gentle with yourself right now. our emotions can be so powerful. 😦 hang in there, sending good thoughts from out west ❤

          Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes. Until we learn that “everywhere we go, there we are”- we will be vulnerable to substituting one addiction/habit for another. The only way to it (peace) is through it- as you’ve expressed beautifully. Keep going my friend. The reward will be so beyond the pain.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post! I’ve had issues with the bottle over the years and fully understand where your coming from. I’ve recently got back to my roots as a Minimalist which also extends to my website design. A few months ago I donated lots of Stuff. It’s a clean and simple lifestyle. Saved money! And variable content on a blog is appealing to me. Be well! 🌞🌴

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I hear this. I sometimes find myself doing the “shopping therapy” thing, and while I am not a debtor (as in Debtors Anonymous), once in a while I sense that I am not shopping because I need, but because I want to evaporate for a moment or two. One of my sponsors, an old timer with 30+ years, had issues with spending for many, many years after getting sober from alcohol. It shocked me at first, but I see more and more that sobriety from booze can slip into other clothing and take on other forms. For me, sugar is one of those things. So I have that to deal with.

    Anyway, loved this because it’s something not spoken much around here – and it’s refreshing!

    Also glad of your insights and thanks for sharing them.

    Paul

    Liked by 3 people

    1. thanks so much for your kind words paul, and those thoughtful stories 🤓 its so hard to be honest with ourselves about why we do what we do, but once we open up our hearts and ask why, so much growth awaits…it’s not easy but it’s worth it right?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed…totally worth it. I hate when I’m in those “teachable moments” but damn I come out different and able to be of service to more people and myself. Thanks again!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing this – your linkage between drinking and material things is interesting. I like it!
    I do admit that at certain milestones (e.g. 30, 60, 90 days alcoholfree) I do treat myself to deep tissue massages, an item of clothing or something that I wouldn’t typically buy. It works for me… and it’s been with the money I would have spent on alcohol (the nomo app has a fab calculator) 😊
    And way to go on reallocating your funds from booze to more meaningful things like paying off debt. How rewarding and positive!
    If it’s useful feedback, I’d love to read travel and non travel posts … all of your insights are wonderful so whatever works for you 😊🌏💙🌴

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I totally am a believer in ‘whatever works for you!’ 😉 everyone has their own patterns and habits that help keep them healthy and sober–and i say ‘hooray!’ I’m just one of those people that can fall into the category of swapping things rather than growing through things, so I’m working on that part–ha! hope your travels are going well and thank you for your words and thoughts ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post soberinvegas! Living beyond my means can definitately show it’s head in more ways than one! The more I look to creation and the natural world- the more I look to the unseen rather than what’s seen, the more peace I have. God Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi!!! Thanks for finding me since I’ve moved to WP Business which is a bit like WP-org. Wishing you a fab week in our beautiful and hot valley. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We were just talking about this subject at lunch today. How shopping/instant gratification/pampering/manic behavior/addiction, etc. manifests itself in different people. I am more of the “self-denial” side. I’d rather go without, and then splurge on the things that are really important to me. Shopping isn’t what I turn to when I’m feeling overwhelmed, and I’m glad about that.

    Liked by 1 person

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