Some surprising emotional effects of debt recovery

For the longest time I had the intention of writing a post about how I had (royally) messed up my finances. I had a long draft brainstormed discussing the how, the why, and the long and painful process of finally accepting how bad things had become, just before I hit rock bottom. It was a shitty year.

But for whatever reason, I delayed writing the post, and now realized that I am in a completely different phase. I’m past the denial, I’m past the blame, and I’m well into my action plan. Basically, much of what I had considered writing, ranting, and preaching about just didn’t seem relevant anymore. It felt like going backwards (aside: I can’t imagine why anyone would be interested in hearing my long-ass sob story about how I got myself into this mess…but if for some reason someone is interested, let me know LOL).

At this stage, I’d moreso like to comment on some un-expected emotional/psychological stuff that has come up for me along the way.

Like how I am not as proud of myself, or as excited as I thought I would be. And this is despite the fact that I’ve worked extremely hard to pay off a significant chunk of the debt. I guess part of it could be knowing that I still have quite a long way to go. I’ve researched it a bit and I know that “debt fatigue” is a thing. I’m possibly just numb to it at this point. But I think a bigger, maybe even more important, part of it is the shame and stigma that goes along with debt. It’s what I’m most tired of. I wish I could brag about my progress, have someone congratulate me, and cheer me on. Granted, it’s partly my fault for never being able to “own it” like that, or put myself out there without flinching. I don’t hide that I am struggling with my finances, but I also haven’t been 100 percent honest with most people about how bad things were in the beginning. But really, I feel like if I did openly confess to hitting a milestone, like paying down my first 10 grand, I wouldn’t exactly get a high five. I’d be met with shock and disgust, for having had that much to pay off in the first place. It’s unfortunate, because I can’t imagine giving that same attitude to someone who lost 10 pounds, by contrast. No one would be rolling their eyes and blaming the person for being that heavy in the first place (at least I sincerely hope no one would!).

I also realized that I had developed severe tunnel vision. I couldn’t stop obsessing over the next target, calculating what was/ would be/should be in my bank accounts, and was horrified to realize that over a year had totally slipped me by. I seriously need to stop fast-forwarding my life. While things are tough right now, I don’t *actually* want to wake up years from now (when I’ll have this truly paid off), only to realize that I gapped out and don’t re-call the first half of my 30s! While the end-goal is exciting, I think I almost need to have it on the mental back-burner for a bit, and find smaller things to look forward to until this ordeal is done.

Obviously, there is also the self-esteem aspect in all of this. It’s not a shock that I don’t think super-highly of myself. This isn’t un-expected, but the severity of it is. I’d say that it’s spread into a general lack of faith in my ability to make decisions, especially when it relates to money. My stomach is in knots about spending money on even the tiniest thing — regardless of if it’s a necessity, or something I’ve budgeted/saved for, very carefully, and can afford it. I’m going to have to get over this, but it’s going to be hard. At the end of all of this, I’m probably going to feel almost uncomfortable with the amount of extra income I’m going to have, since I’m currently slamming down close to a grand each month towards the debt and interest. It’s almost unfathomable to me that one day this will all be *extra* money, that I’ll be entitled to spend again, that I’m actually going to be able to have some freedom. I’m petrified of messing up and don’t trust myself. It sucks the fun out of it.

I’ve also noticed this bizarre, and annoyingly-intense compulsion to explain my spending to people. It’s as though having confessed some of my struggles, I feel the need to justify every step I make, like I’m under a microscope (I admit said “microscope” could all be imagined judgement, all in my head…). For example, if someone compliments me on what I’m wearing, or asks where I got my new boots, coat, or whatever, I instantly launch into a detailed defense about how I got it on sale, or otherwise justifying how I afforded it. This is so un-necessary, and yet it’s a knee-jerk reaction. It’s no one’s business how (or if) I can afford something new, where I got the money, or why I bought the shirt but declined a lunch invite last week because I said I was stressed about money. My anxiety and obession surrounding spending has gotten out of control. I think, like most things I struggle with, a big part of it will be learning to care a  lot less about what other people think, realizing that I have the right to spend my money how I see fit, and hopefully, one day, trust that I am actually making good choices and on the right path.

I’m not sure if anyone out there can relate to this. Any words of wisdom or tidbits or advice are always welcome 😉


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