There are a few things that I have been thinking about and want to add. If you looked at me and my family, you would have NO idea what I have been going through. We pay all of our bills every month and on time. We have really good credit. We drive a nice mini van (if you can say that mini vans are nice. haha. We do like ours though.) We live in nice neighborhoods (not ritzy, but good neighborhoods). We may not have the nicest furniture, or everything we want, but we have enough and are content. Compared to the "world's standards" we are probably doing great. Probably where most of America is or better. We're not "rich", but we make it and we are ok. I know a few comments included, "not as bad as you", and hopefully you aren't as bad as I was. But I want to point out that you don't have to be declaring bankruptcy or not making your bills every month, or not able to buy food for your family, for a spending addiction to be a serious problem. We probably have less debt than a lot of people. Sure we probably have more than a lot of people too with our student loans. I appreciate those of you who have said "thank you", and I have been thinking a lot about those of you who say you recognize a lot of the same tendencies or feelings. My heart goes out to you! And I feel so grateful that you can recognize that now! At whatever point of the spectrum you're at. I think this is such an important problem to recognize in ones self, and I just want to point out that you don't have to wait to be financially drowning for it to be a serious problem.
When we lived in Orem, this was probably 2+ years into my fabric purchasing (and let me clarify, that at times I would stop buying fabric, and I thought I was doing awesome! But if it wasn't fabric, it was something else: stamps, scrapbook paper, a cricut and a ton of those crazy cartridges, online classes, etc etc. I didn't just have a fabric problem, I had a spending problem.) Anyway, at some point, before all my health problems came on, I remember talking to my sister on the phone. I told her, "I think I have a spending problem. I am struggling and depressed, and I am buying everything, and I can't stop. I can't stop buying things. I think I need help." She is so nice, and we talked about shopaholic support groups. I googled some in the area. I can't remember if I found one online or not. I think I talked to my husband about it too, and maybe my mom. But for some reason I didn't look into it any further than that. I think because no one else really seemed to think it was a problem. I don't know. I didn't go to any support groups, I didn't talk to anyone about my problem. I'm not even going to start thinking about how much that probably could have changed my life. At one point in my journey I KNEW I had a problem, and I KNEW I needed help. But I didn't get it. I know it would have made such a difference. Instead, I went down that road all by myself. And it was a long road.
My heart breaks to know that there are others that are going through what I went/am going through. Whether you are just starting on this journey, are in the middle of it, or at the tail end. Or perhaps you just know someone else who is dealing with similar things. Maybe your not in as deep as I was/am, and you think, "oh, it's not serious. I'm fine! It's not a problem for me." I think the world would have told me, and it did tell me, that I didn't have a problem, but I did.
I think the biggest problem with any kind of addiction is feeling like you are alone in it. I think feeling alone goes hand-in-hand with feeling shame, embarrassment, helplessness, hopelessness, and everything else that I'm forgetting. Maybe it's just me, but I went years and years feeling like I had no one to turn to in my struggles. I had no one to talk to about it. Nowhere to get help. And sometimes that fed my addiction more than anything.
I want you, anyone and everyone that is in any stage of this, to know you are not alone!
From the deepest reaches of my heart,
You Are Not Alone!
And I mean it.
I worry about you. I worry about you that responded, and for the many of you that didn't comment that might be living in similar circumstances, I worry for those who are in denial and don't want to admit it. I worry in love. I worry because at least in my circumstances, these problems were a result of larger and bigger problems that I was trying to avoid. Issues that, at least some of them, had been building up my whole life. I worry that you might have bigger challenges to face, and because this is a hard situation to overcome if you feel like you are alone in this.
I don't know you, and perhaps some of you I do. I don't know that I can be what you need as a support. I don't know that I can give you the help you need. But I want to try to help in ways that I can. I would love to take on this issue, situation, I don't know what to call it, and make a change in the way that we support each other online, on IG, wherever. To put a stop to the deceptions that "everyone can afford this except me." or "I need this too to be cool and included." "I want to have friends to I have to send awesome expensive swap packages." Or whatever is your downfall to buying.
I have thought a LOT about the society we live in, and the online community that we are a part of, or aren't. Though we can be such great friends, and so supportive of each other, I notice from my own observations, as well as many of your comments, that there is a dangerous habit of turning the blind eye to these dangerous addictions and actions. "Hi, I'm a drug addict." "Oh yeah?! Here, have some drugs!" Who does that? There is a fine line of sharing and having fun with our beautiful purchases, and the oh so common "enabling" and encouraging peer pressure of others to purchase as well. I've always been so impressed and proud of every time someone comments, "I'm saving up until I can fit that purchase in the budget..." or like comments. I just want to scream, "Awesome!! GOOD JOB!! Keep up the self-control!" Lol. Now, I do not in ANY WAY put any blame on anyone!!! No one else was at fault for my actions but me. No one else is at blame for anyone else's problems but them. I am in no way suggesting that we stop sharing, or stop giving feedback, or stop shopping or ignore the beautiful fabrics and products out there. It would be ridiculous to even think that fabric companies should stop producing fabric, or there should stop being sales and products for sale. We can't change the world we live in. Marketing is a factor in life, selling is what makes people's lively hood, including mine. We can't change that, and I don't think we should. Spending is what keeps the economy going, and we do need that! But we need to be smart in doing it. If people can afford it, if they want it, by all means buy it. Support small businesses, make beautiful things. Buy all of my patterns all the time. ;) lol. It can be fun and be enjoyable, when it's not out of control.
What I do feel needs to change is the way we approach it, and the way we interact with others. We can and should change our own attitudes and actions. We can't be responsible for others actions, but we can be supportive.
I didn't receive help when I should have. If you need help, please seek it! I have made so much progress in the last year. My urges and triggers are very much a thing of the past. I still buy fabric, but compared to before, it's definitely more in control, planned, and realistic. Buying fabric is not a bad thing. The lack of self-control is. I know I'm not cured, but it's not such a scary thing. I wasn't there this last Sunday, but my husband said at church they talked about addictions. Someone commented that addictions can get to the point that you become addicted to the adrenalin rush that comes with whatever action you are addicted to; it gets your heart racing, and it's a "high". I believe it. After hearing that, I realize that is what I am currently facing. Breaking the addiction of the "high" I get from buying something, from receiving something in the mail. It is there and it is real. I also notice the "high" that comes from being financially stressed out! Stress is adrenalin. We get to a good point financially and I don't feel that financial burden and it's like I get bored. "Where is my rush of excitement. I need to spend all our money! Savings is boring!" I am learning how exciting it is to have a lot of savings! Super nerdy excitement. :) The best kind of excitement. Though sometimes I still want to be a rebel.
Anyway, my guard is up and I continue to watch it and work on it. Through the grace and mercy of God he has strengthened my weaknesses.
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Ether 12:27AMEN! ;) teehee.
There is HOPE!! Things that helped me on my journey:
- UNSUBSCRIBE from all your mailing lists that have coupons, sales, announce new fabrics, try to sell you anything, have deals, etc. Don't receive them, don't open them. If you don't have the self-control, you have to get rid of those!! Now I'm at a point that I get a few. But ONLY because they don't trigger me anymore! The coupons are now beneficial and not dangerous (thinking I have to take advantage of the sale. Now they are a way to save on what I'm going to buy anyway.) If there are certain blogs or people on IG that trigger you, don't follow them. You have to disconnect from any and every trigger.
- Find another way to fill that emotional need! I've heard that people who are trying to quite smoking eat licorice. I think it helps them curb the tabacco addiction, while still satisfying that physical motion. Which they can then work on later. ? I don't know exactly. Start eating. lol. don't do that either. Start exercising, grow a garden. If you are depressed take care of plants, house plants, a garden, whatever! That is an excellent activity that has so many beneficial effects. (I have an idea below of another way to fill this need!!!! Please be sure to read it!)
- Turning to God. YOU NEED GOD's HELP! Prayer, pleading for help. Like the scripture says above, recognizing my weakness and relying on our Savior. He knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows exactly how to help us!! Sometimes that help includes the help of those around us. Ask Him, and He will tell you how to get the help you need. He more than anyone wants us to be well - emotionally as well as financially. (Yep! He cares about our finances. Here's a great resource.) Also in this category, read the scriptures - they have so much power. I love this quote (it is SO true! I can tell you lots of personal stories...),
"...the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than talking about behavior will improve behavior." Boyd K. Packer, Washed Clean, April 1997 - an AMAZING address with beautiful insight that goes so well with my experience and my healing.
- If you go "shopping" online. Before you click buy, walk away and don't come back for at least a day, or a week. ;) If you don't need it, close it. But don't buy in the moment. If it's not there when you get back, you won't be any worse for it. One of the traps I would fall into, "what if I miss out on it?!" well then, so what?! Fabric designers are getting more numerous and more talented by the minute. In 20 years when I don't have to worry about feeding my children anymore, I can buy beautiful fabrics then just as I easily can now. :)
- Get help! Join a support group. Find friends that you can talk to, vent to, receive encouragement from. See a specialist and get professional help if needed! Do it. There is no shame in that. I go to the doctor when I'm sick, why not go to the doctor when my mind is sick too?! What a silly world we live in to think there is something wrong with that.
- Probably should have put this at the top: RECOGNIZE! don't be in denial. And don't be ashamed! It feels SO good to share. I'm not saying everyone should come out and tell the world, because there is definitely a time and place for everything, and for some it can be more damaging to let certain people know than helpful. If you don't have anyone to tell, send me an email and tell me! :) I'll support you! I totally believe that being able to share your problems and not hold them in creates SO MUCH MORE ROOM for healing!
Ok, anyway, maybe you don't need help or ideas. But I'd rather put it out there than not! I love suggestions and advice! And thanks to everyone who has shared with me!! I think another big realization that has helped me, is that "it won't give me the happiness I am looking for." I was told the other day, "stop seeking for vain love." Well, fabric is vain love. And boy do we love it! :D
Awesome idea!!! or not...
So, here's a thing that I thought of that might be helpful!! One friend mentioned that she loves the excitement and joy that comes from receiving mail!!! OOOH!!! #happymail!! Yes please. It instantly made me think of pen pals. :) I saw a few ideas of pen pal groups that are already going on. But I think for the purpose and the goal of retraining our thoughts and actions, I would set it up a little differently. I'll explain my ideas, and if anyone is interested, I'll get it organized and finish up the details. So let me know what you think and if you're interested. Even if it's just a few people, I think it would be fun. and hopefully most of all, helpful!
The group would be a
"Nothing Allowed Pen Pals" group.
That's right! Nothing is allowed! No crafty things, no handmade items, no treats, no elaborate packages, NO SPENDING MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my goodness. I don't have time to make everyone a super sweet item. I don't have money to buy every goody and cool pen or paper or chapstick in the store. Yes, they are good and fun for swaps and I love them. But if we are going to break habits of spending, and stop the excuses for spending, and retrain our actions and addictions. Then we can't set up a group that requires you to go out and buy stuff, and spend $6+ for postage per package - which add up quickly.
What is allowed:
- a card
- a note
- your favorite quote
- an encouraging word
- a picture
- a doodle (by you! or someone else)
- imperfect creativity (yep, even crappy doodles are encouraged!)
- #happymail hashtag
- a story
- maybe some washi tape -DON'T go buy every spool you see at the store!!
- use your boring pens and pencils, your 6-year-olds crayons, a highlighter, etc. If you don't own a pen, I'll send you one! I have an entire drawer full!
- a letter
- a 49 cents stamp (or however much stamps cost these days).
I haven't figured out the details. I think if we just put everyone's addresses together, or made groups. Or if you prefer to keep it private between an even smaller group or just me.
People can keep track of when they've received mail so we can make sure that everyone is receiving something. Or you keep track of who you've sent to and try and be responsible to include everyone. You don't have to send mail every day or every week, but maybe once a month.
Perhaps if someone is struggling and needs a little extra encouragement to keep them from buying, we can have a way that they can let the group know and we can all send them something!
Every time you want to press the "purchase" button in the shopping cart, you can stop and send someone a letter instead. :)
I want to try my hand at making some digital stationary and cards, some cute quotes and pictures. When I get to that, who ever is in the group would totally get free access, if they are interested. I don't want this to be something that gives people a reason to spend money! But it's always nice to have fun cute cards to send! I'd love to contribute in that way! :)
So what do you think? Anyone interested in participating? I know two people liked the idea of pen pals on Instagram. What are your thoughts on what I've outlined above? I am honestly not very good at writing letters, but I could do a quick card, a quote, or something small. So really, nothing would be required. Even if all the mail said was, "I think you're awesome!" or "I loved the quilt you shared on Instagram the other day!" I know I would love it! Can we not set up expectations so no one is disappointed that their letter isn't as cool as someone else's?! And so no one feels like a failure because they didn't send an awesome letter?! And can we not have the expectation of having to respond back to someone when they send us something? I mean, it's so important to write back. But a letter that says "You're special and I don't expect anything in return, no strings attached." is probably what we might need. I love these ideas! :) If you don't want to mail anyone anything, but you need support, that's cool too!! We all need the blessings of giving and loving! :)
Ok, done rambling. :) Thanks for reading through if you finished another long blog post. I love you all so much! And I'm so grateful for all your support, encouragement, and kind words!!
And I definitely can't end this without saying THANK YOU to every single buyer and maker/user of any of my patterns, and to everyone who has shared what you have made!! I love it! and not only do I love it, but you have blessed me and my family. Because of your support, you have freed me from myself. Not only have you helped us financially, but also by giving us HOPE! When my "business" really started becoming successful, that also made a big difference in overcoming my addiction. It put an end of buying supplies for projects that were going to be "the solution to our problem", that never actually materialized. Or weren't successful. Thank you for that!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!! :)
You can read all of the posts in this little mini series of ideas in these places:
Hi. My name is Diane, and I'm a fabric-addict.
So Many Thoughts + Thank You! + "Nothings Allowed Pen Pals"
Shop Your Stash Weekend!!!
Nothing's Allowed PenPals +