Reply To: Financial mess and shame

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Hi. I just wanted to add that I felt a giant wave of empathy when I read this: “I’m really struggling with the fact I am in this situation again in life, waiting for impending doom.” I carried that through much of my adult life as I’m sure many people here have. I know how utterly exhausting and frustrating it is. I know what it’s like to not enjoy anything good that happens because that doom waits around every corner. And I know how much shame we can pile up on top of that.

It sounds like you have some immediate fires to put out and I hope you’ve started on that. You may not be ready to be thinking in the bigger picture but I will say that learning how to not start new fires will make it so you’re in that ‘waiting for impending doom’ situation way less often. And that makes a really big difference. Even before I figured out my diagnosis I took a long hard surgical inventory of what I had done that had started similar cycles and just started saying no to them up front. It got really awkward. I used to say yes to things I “thought I should be able to do” and as soon as that yes came out of my mouth, my stomach would start to hurt. So I started listening to my stomach, and saying no, and just letting other people wonder why I wouldn’t, oh, “take advantage of a great opportunity” or help them with something that it seemed like a normal generous person could do, or something I was “smart enough to do” – as if being smart had anything to do with it!

Please know that during that time I STILL FELT SHAME. I still felt like I was not enough, like I was damaged, like if I could do amazingly complicated things I “should” be able to oh, say, send out holiday cards, or stay at a job for more than a year. Cleaning up that emotional mess came later. But the minute I started saying no to things I knew would trigger that cycle, it deflated it. And that gave me time and energy to regroup, and laid the groundwork for all the waves that have come after: remorse, relief, grieving, rebuilding, retraining myself, learning to be gentle with myself – learning what that even means – lol- getting a diagnosis, getting meds, and in a way starting over with every way I think of myself with a new level of compassion I didn’t know was possible.