I’m feeling a lot of fear and insecurity right now. It’s mostly fear about my finances. Years of debauchery has taken its toll on my credit cards, and spending time in detox and rehab has left me with a lot of medical debt and a hefty personal loan.
I’m having to face the fact that I can’t pay everything back all at once. Much as I would like to start with a clean slate, that just isn’t possible. I must do the slow hard work of paying off my debt month by month. For me, right now, that means I’m living paycheck to paycheck. Everything I have is going to paying down my debt.
This financial insecurity causes so much stress and anxiety! It’s the cause of a great deal of tension between my husband and me. It’s probably why I’m not sleeping well at night (in spite of taking 10mg of melatonin). It’s absolutely why I’m craving a drink, a drug, anything that will change the way I feel – because I hate this feeling!
It’s not just finances causing my fear. I’m paranoid about my relationships – obsessing about what people might be saying about me and constantly wondering about what my husband is thinking (it’s so much more than this, but I’m not comfortable saying more). The old idea that I’m not accepted, that I’m an outsider that could easily be discarded, is recurring.
My paranoia is probably a sign that I’m slipping into bipolar depression. I’m starting to feel that old, familiar squeeze in my chest and throat – the paralysis of thought and action.
How do I combat fear? How do I keep moving when all I want to do is crawl into a hole and forget my own existence? These are the things I try to do when fear threatens to overwhelm me.
Yes, I’m struggling, but there’s so much that I have. For starters, I haven’t been furloughed indefinitely from my job like so many thousands of government workers during this government shutdown.
I have a good job, and I have the ability to freelance on the side. I’m grateful for my ability to work and earn what I need to cover all (or most of) my bills every month. I have a warm home. I’m able to contribute to the grocery budget. I can put gas in my car.
Gratitude combats fear by shifting my perspective from the future to the present moment. If I stay in the present moment, right here and right now, I can stay calm.
I have been told that my Higher Power will keep me where I am until I have learned the lesson I am supposed to learn. Lessons are best accepted with humility. There is something about my situation that is going to teach me something. It could be something obvious like money management. Or it could be something like better communication skills with my husband.
Whatever the lesson is, if I’m not staying humble, I’m not going to be able to learn and grow.
This is the hardest thing for me to do. When I am fearful, I lose all my hope. I get lost in the morass of doom and gloom. Nothing will ever change, and the light at the end of the tunnel is the oncoming train.
One thing that gives me hope is the 9th step promises. In the Big Book of AA, there is a list of promises. These promises come in the 9th step, and it’s important to note that. These promises come after you’ve put in some work. One of the promises is that “fear […] of economic insecurity will leave us.” I am not promised that economic insecurity will leave me but that the fear of it will leave me.
Of course, I would love economic insecurity to leave me too! But that will take years of hard work…or winning the lottery, which never seems to happen.
Of these three, the one I must hold onto most fiercely is hope. I must hope that one day money will not be the only thing I think about. That one day I will not live in fear.
Hope lets me face my fear every day. With hope, I know that by working hard and taking it one day at a time I will eventually overcome my financial insecurities. With hope, I can ignore the paranoid voices in my head that make everything about me. With hope, I can believe that the 9th step promises will be fulfilled.
Gratitude, humility, and hope are my weapons against fear. With these I can move forward with patience and faith, believing that my Higher Power has a plan. I must not give in to my fear, paranoia, and depression. I must strive to live every day to the best of my ability – grateful, humble, and hopeful.
*All pictures in this blog post were collected from Bored Panda: 137 Artists Try to Show What Depression Looks Like.