Treating Yourself is Not the Answer

Treating Yourself is Not the Answer

Sunday was errand day. Every day feels like errand day, when you’re moving, but Sunday is the big one. I drive to the big box store part of town to pick up all the things I will need in my new home: dish soap, hand soap, cleaning products and laundry detergent. My shower curtain has to be replaced, so I grab something white to brighten up my new-to-me bathroom with the dark tile floors. Into the basket it goes, along with a new plastic liner. I forgot my shopping list at home, which feels like the biggest mistake I could make on a day like this. But I know I wrote down that I also need aluminum foil, so I grab a roll of that too.

As I walk toward the numbered rows of blue cash registers, I pass the seasonal goods. Easter is coming. There is a lot of chocolate on the shelves. Chocolate definitely wasn’t on my list, but I gravitate towards it anyway. My eyes scan dozens of products and eventually settle on the Cadbury section. Creme Eggs and Mini Eggs are dangerous substances, in my world. I can’t help but notice that buying four Creme Eggs is cheaper than buying two. I could eat four Creme Eggs right now, I think. Oh, but the big bag of Mini Eggs looks even better. I nearly salivate at the thought of smelling the sweet vanilla scent that releases from the bag when you open it.

I spend the next three minutes running numbers and making justifications for why I should buy one of these two items. It’s not surprising that the more you buy, the better the deal is. But I know I don’t need a 2 lb. bag of Mini Eggs any more than I need the four Creme Eggs. Still, I imagine buying one, opening it in the car and stuffing my face full, then feeling the temporary high that comes with giving into a craving. The sugar would hit my bloodstream and, with a few beats of the heart, run through my entire body. I realize my eyes are closed, as I’ve been visualizing the experience. When I open them, I see the bag of Mini Eggs is in my hand. I return it to its place on the shelf and walk away.

I wish I could say this was an unusual experience for me. I wish I could say that all the experiments I’ve done have cured me from ever walking towards something I don’t need and thinking about buying, eating, drinking, or consuming it in some other way. I wish I could say the little voice has disappeared: the one who tries to talk me into doing things I know I shouldn’t do. But that would be a lie. The voice is still there. She still lives inside me. She still craves things. And she still puts those things in my hands. I may have quit shopping for two years, and quit binging on alcohol and junk food, but I’m not immune to craving things or finding myself in situations where it’s readily available.

I’ve been craving a lot of things lately. New furniture. New bedding. New dishes and glassware and knives. (And chocolate.) At first, I blamed the move and the feelings of wanting to finally “settle down” it has filled me with. Also, much of what I own is 8+ years old and no longer aligns with my values – that’s not an excuse, it’s a truth I face when I look at it. I know I don’t need all of these things, but I still think about them – and find myself getting dangerously close to making impulse purchases on an almost daily basis again. This doesn’t mean the shopping ban wasn’t a success. In fact, the cause for my wanting all of these things is so much simpler than that, it almost hurts to say…

I’m sad right now. Things are hard again. My life is unsettled. It probably looks fine from the outside, but it doesn’t feel good on the inside. My life is unsettled, things are hard and I am sad. Any one of those things could be a good enough excuse to treat yourself. “Everything else is bad, I just want one thing to be good.” (A classic excuse to go shopping for something new.) “I cried today, so I’m going to put my feet up and eat chocolate now.” (I said this last week.) “F@$% THIS.” (One of many reasons to drink.) And when you group all of those things together, it’s not just an excuse to treat yourself – it’s a recipe to do serious damage to your wallet, waistline, health and good habits.

Binging has always been my go-to cure for times like this. Notice I didn’t just crave chocolate – I wanted to eat four Creme Eggs, and even considered having a 2 lb. bag of Mini Eggs in my possession. It’s the same way I used to go on shopping sprees and spent weekends getting blackout drunk. When things were hard, I knew there was an easy way out. I knew there could be some immediate relief: a buzz brought to you by sugar, alcohol or new stuff. But doing the shopping ban and quitting drinking taught me those escapes were always short-lived, before I was dragged back to reality kicking and screaming. “Treating myself” was not the answer. The only way out was to feel my way through it.

That’s not to say it’s ever easy. I talk about this more in my book (out in January 2018) but I went through a lot of tough times in the first year of the shopping ban, and I couldn’t buy, drink, or eat anything that would make it better. I had to feel everything and it hurt. But it wasn’t all bad. Because I couldn’t “treat myself”, I couldn’t hide from or put band-aids over my problems. I had to look at them. I had to analyze and understand them. Then I had to look at, analyze and understand myself. I discovered the good and the bad and the depth and the shallows that live within my 5’7″ frame. I had to accept myself and accept my problems, and find new solutions that did not involve “treating myself”.

The solutions were always different. Sometimes, a simple phone call with a friend would do the trick. Other times, I needed to push myself up a mountain and see the view from the summit to remind myself I could do anything I set my mind to. Going down to the store and buying chocolate or pizza or wine or something new for my home would’ve been too easy – a habitual fix. Sure, I would’ve been hit with a temporary high and potentially gotten through the day with a smile on my face. But by not being able to mask the pain or the problems, I had to challenge myself, learn and grow from the experiences. And perhaps the greatest lesson I am still learning is that when things get tough, I need to take care of myself.

In between all the talks with friends and the hikes up mountains, I developed a self-care practice tailored to me. It includes audiobooks with my morning coffee. Fresh air. Solo walks with podcasts playing through my earbuds. New trails. Green smoothies in the afternoon. Music. Doing all of the dishes after dinner. Clean socks. And epsom salt baths before bed. These might seem like action items that anyone can do on any day of the week. But when things are hard and you are sad and you no longer want to “treat yourself” in any of your usual ways, these things become your lifeline. They are the simple joys of your day. They don’t mask the pain, but they do help you work through it.

And you have to work through it. You have to challenge yourself, learn and grow. It’s the only way to come out healthier on the other side.

So things might look fine on the outside, but I don’t feel good on the inside right now. And I’ve been craving a lot of things lately. My life is unsettled, things are hard, I am sad and I have been craving a lot of things. But I won’t give in to those cravings. I know that giving in is just a band-aid, which can’t replace the stitches some of my problems need to be fixed up. I don’t want a band-aid. I want a resolution. Until that day comes, I’m steering clear of my cravings and moving in the direction of my self-care practice. There will be audiobooks. There will be hikes. There will be epsom salt baths. If a little water and magnesium can’t help, nothing can.

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  • Cait, sorry you’re having a tough time, I’m sure it’s the reality of the move “hitting home”. Proud of you for passing up the chocolates! Now….go get in that Epsom Salt Bath, things will improve soon! You’ve matured to a point many folks never reach, take satisfaction in that fact, and keep your chin up. Your tomorrow will be better for not eating those chocolates today!

  • This is such an important reminder. It’s all about figuring out what works for each of us as individuals, right? I think it’s human nature to want to reach for whatever seems like the easiest fix, even if it is short term. This post–and so many others!–show what incredible strength you have.

  • Hi Cait! I too am sad to see that you’re unsettled right now. Yes, it’s the big changes happening in your life right now – a new home, a first book due out next year, your growing career as a self-employed professional, etc. Change is always difficult for us all. It is especially hard for those who, like yourself, basically for the most part live a solitary lifestyle, keeping concerns within your mind. I’m no heath worker to have all the answers for you (and I think you’re doing quite well in coming up with your own coping solutions) but I think that you need a close friend (physically living with you) to share things. Please forgive me if I may be out of bounds and intrusive for suggesting this but it’s just my opinion. I just read an interesting article lately called “The Lonely American” ( http://www.thelonelyamerican.com/ ) and I guess that was behind my suggestion.
    Hang in there, friend.

  • Thanks for your honestly, Cait. I’m sorry you’re feeling sad. That does make it so hard to resist “treating yourself” in that state. I think everyone has to find alternatives and yours sound great.

    I think planning some “treats” into regular life is a good way to avoid those emotional “treat yourself” binges, at least for me. Every so often we plan to update something small in our home. This month we are replacing our broken vertical blinds with curtains. Coffee and a bit of chocolate is my habitual afternoon indulgence. And then there’s fiction–the best treat of all in my book!

  • Cait– I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now but have never commented. Just wanted to say that your experience in the store was eerily similar to the one I had yesterday. It was so tempting to reach over and grab the Creme eggs, I knew I had enough in my budget to afford them. I thought about how I would limit myself to only one at a time (ha!). But I stopped myself from even reaching over when I thought about how much better my body had been feeling with less sugar. Just wanted to say that this was incredibly helpful to read this morning, so perfectly timely for me as someone still trying to get settled in after a recent move.

  • I really like Kalie’s idea of planned improvements to your living environment. There’s nothing wrong with purchasing items that improve your home’s appearance, function, comfort, etc. — esp if you approach the purchase intentionally! To care for yourself, rather than “treat yourself,” as you wrote, perhaps a gradual home improvement plan might help?

    Admiring you, as always!

  • The Reese’s Eggs get me. Every. Time. I just ate through a bag of them in a week; I pretty much unhinged my jaw like a snake and slid them all into my mouth at once. I do like that you visualize the inevitable moment of disappointment that comes with treating yourself with these unnecessary purchases.

    Maybe to get over the need for “new” things you can trade with friends or sign up for a Buy Nothing group? People are usually getting rid of all kinds of very, very nice things that you can get for free.

    Sorry to hear it’s been rough lately. Work has been dragging me down quite a lot lately, and I know how it is to feel sad and (in my case) even stupid. But it’s all about building positive behaviors into your life, like meditation and exercise, to stay the course.

  • So sorry to hear you are feeling this way Cait. I think this move is affecting you more than you thought it would, even though it is something you want and need. I think the craving for new things always comes up when you are moving. Wanting new things for your new home. But I’m sure that once you are settled away in your new place for a few weeks and take a look around, you will see what is working and what needs to truly go. I wish I were closer to give you a real hug, but I will have to send you a virtual one. Things that feed our heart and soul aren’t things you can necessarily buy. Self-care can’t be found in four creme eggs or a bag of mini eggs. I know I’ve tried. LOL You seem to have your self-care routine all worked out. The important things, the really important things, can’t be bought in a store. But I think you already know that. Take care. ❤

  • Hey Cait,

    Thanks for sharing this powerful post. It takes a lot of strength to call out the sadness and it helps those of us in your usually silent audience who share the feeling. Thanks, as always, for your barehonesty. It means a lot.

  • Thank you, Cait! This post really resonated with me. I’ve been following your blog for quite some time, and I’m really enjoying walking with you on this journey – the good and the bad and the uberhonest. It’s sometimes hard to explain these things well, and you’ve nailed this one on the head. I experience this as well – the unsettledness… knowing that you ‘should’ feel fine, but don’t quite feel it. Learning how to deal with your self, and the emotions underlying the actions. Thank you.

  • *hugs*
    So sorry to hear that you’re having a rough go of it. I feel you with the mini Eggs. I *love* those bad boys with a passion. But I’m getting better at not binge eating them.

    I too am a little unsettled at the moment. Suddenly being unemployed (no notice, was a complete surprise) will do that. While I’m missing the people I worked with I’m not missing all of the other stresses that came with it, especially the 3:30 wake up time. I’m really enjoying sleeping in until 7 every day!

  • This was sad but so brave too. I admire that in the gloom you recognise that you need to care for yourself.
    Feel better soon and know that this post has really helped other people.
    Liz

  • Treating yourself when you’re down is a hard habit to break, but it sounds like you’ve developed effective tools and alternatives to take care of yourself instead. Lately, my consumption has increased more than I’d like to admit, and my solution is to read books on the minimalist lifestyle. I’m reading The More of Less and, after I put it down, I find myself looking around and appreciating everything I already own a little bit more. It doesn’t quiet my cravings entirely, but it does help renew my perspective and lifestyle goals. I hope your self-care solutions help you through this rough patch and find you even stronger when things start looking up.

  • Thank you for this. This is is me, without the unsettled part. I’ve been sad and hurt and lonely lately, and feeling the weight of the little world I’ve created bearing down a bit too heavily on my shoulders. If I was following my bad habits, I would have stuffed those feelings under food and shopping, but because of conscious work on myself, by surrounding myself with those ideas and people that support a healthier me, I know the healing is IN the pain. Not the mini eggs (I saw a bag of them the size of a PILLOW and I swear it sang my name out loud as I gazed at it with lust). Thank you for sharing what you’re feeling right now. It’s already helped me avoid adding sugar to my coffee this morning. A small thing, meaningless to many, but very valuable to me. Keep on keeping on, my friend.

  • Sending virtual hugs your way, Cait. So sorry you’re struggling! I know those feelings you’ve described very well. In fact, I’m seeing a therapist who specializes in food issues to deal with my own bingeing issues. I spiraled out of control for a while after the election. Self-care has been huge! I have remind myself almost daily that ice cream or Thai food or pasta isn’t the answer to my problems. I hope things get easier for you soon!

  • Sending you hugs and a heap of love and a ton of gratitude for writing this. I hope everything is okay and that through sharing this, it helps get through it. It certainly helps the rest of us with our own struggles <3

    I think the most important thing you can share (and keep sharing) is the fact that even once you get through the tough stuff, that little inner voice who prods us toward treating ourselves (and other negative, unproductive behaviors that don't actually provide solutions) NEVER goes away. It's always there and resisting it can often just make it louder. Learning to work with it instead of against it is key and something I'm trying to practice with my own little inner voice that tries to convince me treating myself is the right choice.. but you nailed it: the real way forward is to feel your way through it.

  • This is so relatable. Thank you for being so open and honest, especially when it’s sometimes easier to be picture perfect. I tend to cope with setbacks and challenges the same way and I’m learning that it won’t solve anything and only add other areas of stress. I, too, have found that taking care of yourself is a much more productive way to get through a tough time. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you, as always, for your honesty. I have to admit that I have fallen into bad habits again after a very stressful time in January/February (my dad suddenly fell extremely ill and we thought we were losing him multiple times) and am trying hard to feel the yucky stuff I pushed aside while the stress was running extremely high. Thankfully my dad is healing well, and I am grateful. I am still sorting out all my emotions stemming from the stressful time and it is SO easy to eat, drink, or binge-watch television rather than feel it all. As you point out, it’s always a work in progress. All the best to you as you settle once again, literally, and emotionally.

  • This post really resonates with me right now. I can completely relate struggling with the cravings and urges to ‘treat myself’. The combination of a super cold winter, an almost relationship ending, and just feeling unsettled in life has me wanting to spend tons of money on new furniture, replacing my bed (of course I need to buy my dream bed frame and high thread count sheets and top of the line mattress), buying a $500 mirror I saw on Instagram, not to mention ordering pizza or picking up my favourite ice cream because I had a tough day at work. It’s really easy to justify that kind of behaviour with ourselves, even though we know those quick fixes won’t do much for our waistlines or wallets (or happiness, for that matter). Your self care practice sounds lovely – simple, yet effective. Thank you for writing this!

  • I’m sorry to hear that you hare having a rough time, but appreciate the open and honest post. I’m in a similar spot right now, and even when life is supposed to be so great, I lay awake at night with a dull ache in my heart. Hikes, baths and audiobooks all sound like they’ll be good aids in supporting you throughout this time, and Squamish is the perfect place to experience it.

  • “My life is unsettled, things are hard and I am sad.” If those aren’t the most honest and true words that I’ve read lately. I’m sorry you too are going through tough times, but know that you are a beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox. And we love you for it.

  • This post is so real, so transparent…thank you! The timing is perfect…I had this same conversation with myself over furniture this weekend, it made me mad that my journey to become debt-free could be unraveled in one weak moment at Pottery Barn. But, I walked out…I’m ok. The struggle is real. Thank you Cait!

  • Such a good post on a very important topic you don’t hear about in financial blogs!
    I work in a field where self-care is essential and I know that a lot of us don’t realize when we need it. And I also know how easy it is to use those “quick fixes” that in the long run don’t help and only make you feel even worse.
    I also wanted to say that although my default is to never buy books, I have to mark my calendar with January 2018 to get yours!

  • Cait, thank you for your honest and heartfelt post. In one essay, you summed up my challenges and struggles. Just today, we here in MA are getting a major snow storm and I hate snow, it means I do not get paid because we will have a snow day etc. As I went to pick up a few items at Target, I went right for the chocolate and cookies too. WOuld have gravitated toward the alcohol but not sold there! I too have looked at my eating, drinking, shopping patterns and how I treat myself and because of you and your honest, open approach examined them all. Am taking baby steps and not eating sweets, drinking or buying unless I need something. It will always be a challenge for me because i, like you cannot just have one little Cadbury egg but the bag would be my choice.
    I look forward to your book and future posts. Thank you so much for your honesty and we all have challenges but it is how we handle and live with them on our journey that is important. Each day is a process but let’s enjoy it all!
    Peace,

  • I typically lurk, but the honesty (and the relevance) of this post has caused me to bookmark it. I will read it again. And again. Because you’ve described my coping skills (down to the Cadbury Mini Eggs … seriously, I am not a die-hard chocolate fan, but these are DIVINE.).

    Thanks for this. Thanks for your honesty – you write a lot of posts that I bookmark to refer to again and again. I’ll be sending you good thoughts as you settle into your new adventure.

  • I often want to eat my feelings, and my feels taste an awful lot like pastries. In the past 5 years, I have buried my oldest son, adopted 3 kids (2 with special needs) and had a baby. There are times when I just have to keep my shit together for the sake of everyone else. Enter pastry.

    It’s a slow process of finding better balance in life (husband quite his job-that helped!) and creating healthier routines. I feel like in the last 18 months I have finally gotten to the point I don’t feel like I’m drowning every day. Life is 100x better. But there are still days… when my dear friend was laid off, or my mentee ends up homeless, or a friends adoption disrupts and their child has to go live in an institution that I want to eat my feelings. Chocolate covered feelings.

  • Hi Cait, I love your blog and podcast! I totally relate, things have been tough lately and I have used it to justify treats. I think the occasional small treat is okay though. From this and your latest Budgets and Cents podcast, I think you would enjoy the book Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin, which is about developing and keeping good habits and avoiding bad habits. I have found it and her Happier podcast really helpful!

  • I wish I had your willpower… I always cave to my chocolate cravings… Or my take-out food cravings/cooking laziness… I hope that this period of sadness passes quickly, and that you can once again learn from this experience. Thank you for sharing!

  • Very wise words, Cait. Treating ourselves has become a form of self-medication, one that’s not good for us, our wallets, and our health. I’m sorry you are having a tough time right now, and I applaud you for your willingness to share and your willingness to seek out other ways to deal with your feelings. I have these struggles myself…I’ll admit there are Peeps in the cupboard right now, my wife bought them but we’ll both eat them. I’m going to have to work on finding new ways to take care of myself.

  • This is such a sincere, authentic, & honest post – & there’s so much truth in it for the rest of us, whether things are difficult or just slightly annoying. I’m all too familiar with (& guilty of) the habit of treating myself because I feel a little down – & it’s one of the primary issues behind my problems with money & food. Thanks so much for this post. I hope things start to look up for you soon.

  • Thank you for the openness. I have never been able to write that honestly publicly and have so so much respect for people that can. I hope things pick up for you once you start to settle in in the new place.

    I understand the cravings well. I find that in addition to being stronger when I am sad, they are stronger when I am tired, which is something I have been often lately. When I get less sleep I have a tendency to eat more fast food and junk food and exercise less. I recognize that it is no good, but I am still working on getting to where you are with being able to resist them on a more consistent basis.

  • I feel like you’re telling the story of my life in this post in so many ways. I ‘treat myself’ all the time and it has led to weight issues and debt time and time again. Good for you for conquering your emotions and being so self-aware. Wishing you all the best to get back to your happy place soon.

  • I wish I had a magic wand to make it all better, Cait, but as a second choice I’d love to talk/Skype/message anytime about anything. Sometimes just being heard helps, and I’m a good listener. I know you’re moving because you love Squamish, but if some sunshine would help too, we have an endless supply and you’re always welcome.

  • Thank you for such a beautiful honest and vulnerable post, reading your blog is truly refreshing , you speak so courageously about the hard things in life, things like money and sadness that many of us would just like to avoid, there is a great need for greater compassion both for ourselves and others, shinning a light on these topics brings us that much closer to a truly compassionate world.

  • Thank you for sharing this and hope you feel better. I’ve always had a problem with thinking that if I got through something then that tempting voice would disappear but I know that’s not the case. Resisting and ignoring it just makes it worse. Sometimes it’s just so easy for me to buy a bunch of small things to make me feel better since “everything else is up in the air”.

  • I love reading your posts. You’re not afraid to describe tough situations that many can relate to.

    Years back, we were living paycheck to paycheck and there was a time I was also unemployed and always at home. So, I ate. A lot! I wasn’t depressed, but not having a ‘purpose’ all day long led to eating all sorts of junk food. I wouldn’t have passed on the chocolates a few years ago, not even if someone paid me to! :D

    Now that I changed my mindset altogether, I learned that taking over control (of my finances, of what I eat, what I drink) is pretty amazing. A few years back I would have bought the chocolates and a dozen other junk foods along with them. To ‘treat myself’ when I get bored or have a craving. Now – I don’t even look at the guilty pleasure isle anymore. It saves us a lot of money and a lot of calories!

  • Cait you are such an inspiration!! I have no idea how you’ve held out for so long on your shopping ban. It’s so tempting to just buy the easter eggs because you ‘think’ you deserve as you’ve been so good lately. But, I think we need to realize that there are other things (that are free) that will provide a greater sense of elation and longer-lasting content than the sugar high we gain from eating chocolate for example. Not to say we shouldn’t eat chocolate, but to have things in place that substitute these treats.
    Such a great post!

  • Hei you are a human, not a robot, so is normal to have cravings on stupid and not necessary stuff…for years I never thought about budget and the importance of savings, I needed a new bed but well it wasn’t on my priorities, while healt would must to be, since i understood was necessary to think seriously about my finances something is changed…well look yourself some years ago and see how many results you achieved, you’ve done a great job:D

  • Thank you for your honesty. I once read “you can’t see a rainbow without the rain”. Here is another good quote: “Nothing is harder to bear, than a succession of fair days.” – Goethe

    There is a Twilight Zone episode where a guy has a perfect life. He gets all the promotions, no one disagrees with him, he gets the ladies, wins his bets, etc…. he starts getting really bored and restless because everything is predictable… at the end, the twist is that he is in hell.

    You are so right that we need to practice care over comfort. If we are experiencing anxiety and depression, the wrong habits can quickly make that spiral out of control like the snow ball effect.

  • I have done all the same justifications over and over again for purchases that I knew wouldn’t have the desired effect on my attitude. Hemming and hawing over a $2 or $3 purchase helps to give it weight towards my overall decision but in the end the symptom of what is pushing that “need” goes completely unresolved. It sucks that at times we can’t just turn that side of our brains off. The needy justifiable side that says “you deserve this”. We do what feels good in moments of hoping to feel better but the two don’t always equate to the same thing. In fact, it rarely does. Sitting eating creme eggs (my FAV as a kid!) for me would eventually lead to guilt – why couldn’t I say no, why did I buy them, and why did I have to eat them all?? I have somewhat been able to calm my inner voice by remembering that I am not a child anymore. I don’t get to kick and scream to get my way. I no longer suck my thumb to soothe myself. Being an adult has sooooo many advantages over being a child, but there is no doubt that giving in to your inner child is a necessary evil at times…just as it is when your kid is throwing a tantrum in public. Sometimes you just don’t have the bandwidth to let it ride. In those moments, buy the single creme egg and follow it up with a bath. It is ok to be kind to yourself, just don’t completely give in…or give up.

  • Thank you so much. I am realizing that not “treating myself” through emotional issues makes me really grumpy. I need to ramp up the ways to feel my feelings and take care of myself. This post is a big wake up call and motivator. Thank you!

  • Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable. Your writing is always beautiful, but this post in particular was excellent. You seem to have a good self-care system in place. Yes, some days or weeks will be sad and hard, but knowing how best to look after yourself during those times will carry you through the difficulties.

  • Your writing is so powerful and this post will be one I frequent very often. Thank you!

    I recently went through a move and I couldn’t believe how much anxiety/stress/fear I would feel about the little things: which grocery store should i go to? what is my address? oh crap, I need to switch my drivers license, WHEN AM I GOING TO FIND TIME FOR THAT?! And I have no friends…ugh do I really have to go to that meetup? I’m just saying your not alone and many others feel or have felt this sadness.

    Stay strong and keep prioritizing your self care! Even though today may not be the day, someday in the future you will feel like yourself again and you won’t have to constantly remind yourself what your values are.

  • Awesome honesty, for which I am very grateful. I enjoy your blogs and recently having had some major life changes, this one was very much what I needed to hear. Can’t express how much I appreciate you honestly and openly sharing this. Kudos to you. Taking care of ourselves is key to healthily navigating the rough waters in life. And it is one of the few things over which we have personal control. Thanks for the reminder! Best wishes to you as you work through things!

  • Thanks, Cait. I really needed to read this post. I hope your sadness lifts soon and this new move does good things for you.

  • I’m absolutely terrible with binging. I could go through a whole bag of pretzels with port wine cheese and not even know it. Handling tough situations and seasons in life is never easy. But it’s how we come out of those seasons (not binge eating or treating ourselves to something new (it’s always tools for me)) stronger than we were before. I really recommend the book Rising Strong by Brene Brown. It’s super encouraging. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Thank you for this article…it made me put the oreos back in the cupboard. Sending some positive energy to you, and i hope you feel better soon.

  • This has been me all week but ESPECIALLY today. I’m struggling and I know I’m struggling and I hate that my literal gut reaction is to want a thing that I can’t have as if it’ll fill that need that I’m really feeling – which is to have a bad thing not happen, and to have some good things happen in areas that I’m not able to push ahead right now.

    Feeling helpless or powerless drives these cravings for me, drives the visceral need to do SOMETHING that feels like it might be the thing to fill that empty spot.

    We know intellectually it’s not the thing we need, but yet, our souls say different.

    I’m holding out, and thank you for these words that’ll help me stay buoyed against the feelings. <3 to you, and you know where to find me if you need.

  • Thank you so much for sharing Cait.
    This post deeply resonates with me and I really needed to hear it and be reminded of healthier ways to navigate feelings than a band-aid. It’s an ongoing journey figuring all of this stuff out: relationship boundaries, finances, health and self.
    Take care,
    Sarah

  • Thank you for the honest, heartfelt post, Cait. I recently realized that as hard as it is to share when you’re in a vulnerable state, it is also a weight that’s lifted to say “This is me, this is life, I’m human, and this sucks.” Sending huge hugs your way. I have a fair bit of uncertainty at the moment too and chips & chocolate have been nightly supporters. Thanks for convincing me to get real and get in touch with my feelings. If you’re interested in reading my honest post (misery loves company?) feel free to drop by here: https://happythankfulhopeful.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/when-youre-right-in-the-middle-of-it/

    Take care, and much love from Ontario.

    p.s. You are a warrior woman, Cait. You’ve got this, girl!!!!!!!!

  • I loved reading this post—it’s so insightful, and it’s something that I’m sure almost everyone can relate to. I’m so sorry you’re going through a rough time; such a big move is always going to be tough, but it sounds like you’re going through more than that, too. I hope things look up for you soon once you’re settled into the place you know you should be right now.

    I’ll admit, I give in far more than I’m proud of to my chocolate cravings (although I’m pretty good at abstaining from everything else). When I’m just enjoying a small amount of chocolate and savoring it, I’m totally fine with that, but it’s the bingeing and the “band-aid” placing, like you said, that’s destructive. So next time I reach for way more cookies or chocolate kisses than I should, I’ll try and remember this post.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • I read your post and walked that box of cookies right out to the garbage. I am recovering from an accident and while I am mostly past the ‘why me’ stage I had a little set back and was sure I deserved those cookies! Thank you for sharing a little of your strength. I wish I could do something for you.

  • Sometimes I feel like buying something I don’t need or treating myself, but it doesn’t happen all the time. I think for me it’s related to other things happening (or not happening) in my life. My fall-back is to be able to take out library books, because they are free, I can return them, and I don’t have to read them all. I know when I’m feeling like a coffee, chocolate, thrifting, and shopping in the same day, that it’s not the money or the things but something else inside. Like everyone else said, it does pass thankfully!

  • I’ve noticed myself having a lot of treats in the past few weeks that are really not good for me. Yet, I had no clue what was going on our what to do about it. Your post just clued me in: I’m sad. And I need to do some self care, asap. Which means I’d better figure out what that is for me! Thanks for writing and helping me. I really appreciate it.

  • Cait, I’m sorry to hear you’re sad and unsettled. I hate to say it but I guess I’ve been unsettled and sad for the past few years. The easiest way for me to cope was by shoveling food in my mouth and ignoring my problems but with that, came the shame and weight gain. You’re right! I don’t need to treat myself, I need to take care of myself.

    I’m so glad I found your site again after losing all of my bookmarks over a year ago. I hope you feel better soon. And thank you!

  • Cait I am reading this post soon after I read your post on how excited you were to find a place to settle down. You were finally moving to your go to place. I am heartily sorry you are in a bad place right now. I can relate to your post, at the moment I have a 7′ box in my home containing a treadmill. Now I will use the treadmill but I know I bought it because I was in a bad place. I have realized I have the same problem and am also trying to fight it. I will take your example of setting up a care for me routine to replace the instant gratification of pressing the dash button on Amazon.

  • Thank you for sharing Cait!

    I can relate to how you are feeling, even if I don’t know the cause. I personally am going through some stuff now. For years I’ve been working in a job that isn’t really functional and which doesn’t have a good organization around it. This lead to me burning out (sounds harsh, right? Candles burn out, and then they are gone). And at times now, to be honest, it feels like life sucks. But those feelings are rather fleeting, and I bounce back.

    I too want to treat myself and have indulged in various comfort foods and snacks. And it feels great for the moment – then the guilt hits. I’m usually very conscious about what I put into my body, so it feels more like a defeat to actually “treat” myself.

    I really enjoyed the sentiment in your post Cait, how it’s more about lifestyle changes and habits, rather than quick fixes with snacks and food. I’ve been sticking my head in the sand for several years working a job that is eating away at both my energy and my soul. And with help from the people around me I’ve come to realize that I have to make changes to how I live my life. Both related to work and the life out of work.

  • Cait

    I lurk, but rarely post, but the raw power of your writing moved me. I moved in January, for many good reasons, into a nice, safe part of London. I found, during February, that my feelings were moving deeply into sadness, much as you describe. Sadly, I haven’t practised self-care, have over-eaten to try to suppress my feelings.

    But what I have managed to do is begin to excavate my own “why…?” for my feelings.

    The shock has been to realise that I have “sorted” my life’s blockages and that I am terrified of the responsibility of building that meaningful life that I’ve been working towards. I sold the silly, “too-big-for-one-person” house miles from work, and bought a lovely flat as my new home in London. I have halved my commute from three hours per day to 1.5 hours a day, and am still near enough to my beloved sister, to be able to see her regularly. I gave up being full-time head of department and stepped down to the next level, to work four days per week. On my fifth day, I am studying for a Masters degree, to move into a field of work that I love and which has real meaning for me.

    Commute sorted – tick.
    Appropriate-sized home – tick.
    Able to see family easily still – tick.
    Work-life balance aligned (for the present) – tick.
    Adjusted well to losing 40% of my salary from drop in grade and fewer days – tick.
    Retraining to do meaningful work – tick.

    So: all the preparation for this fantastic new stage in my life, finally – finally! – in place. At the age of 51…

    So my sadness and anxiety is stemming from the “what next to actually achieve a fuller life?”, because I hadn’t realised that all that other stuff WAS just the preparation…And that, no matter how well thought-through one’s plans are, one still may have regrets (even grief) about the choices which were discarded.

    I make no assumptions, but I offer this because I wondered if there may be something which resonates with your situation, perhaps the realisation that there’s still meaningful but hard work to do?

    Very best and warmest of wishes to you.

  • When I moved, trying to learn a new grocery store got to me. One move that was due to a break up, just made it harder, because it wasn’t fully my choice to give up my grocery store comfort zone.
    I totally indulge in treats sometimes, but with awareness of what I am doing, and at relatively low cost. We had a medical scare with my dad, and then I saw 3 boxes of my favorite seasonal tea at the store and bought all 3. I have been looking for the tea for at least 4 years, and I ration it, so my 3 boxes will last. But I knew part of my purchase was emotional. It was on a bit of a discount, and I feel ok spending $6 on my impulse emotional tea splurge. After all the $6 for the hospital parking decks, I think something I’ll enjoy is worth it.
    I’m otherwise good at sticking to my list, or having a purchase in mind for a while (blue stud earring, because I wear a lot of blue, <$20), to make sure it's something I want. If I can't remember it, I probably don't need it, if once a week I think, wish I had blue earrings…it's a different story.

  • I’m sorry you are sad. But thank for this beautiful post. I’m glad you shared this wisdom. I’m taking this golden nugget to heart – Don’t treat yourself. Take care of yourself. Thank you.

  • Linked here from YNAB. You’ve made a fan. I’m sorry you are sad, but I admire your honesty, and what you’re learning to do is something I struggle with every day. I’m going through a major depressive episode, thinking a trip to the drive-thru would make this day easier, because there’s always a short time after I stuff my face that the pain diminishes. But I’ve been meditating every night before bed for the last 30 days, and I’m learning to be more comfortable with my discomfort. Anxiety, depression, and sadness are ubiquitous and all-consuming and we are fools to think we can escape it. Better we learn to rest in it. I look forward to your book.

  • Thanks, Cait! I am too, unsettled currently and looking for the balance. While I say no to every other treat (because that’s the right thing to do), I did bought face mask, lots of it ( they were on ~80% sale on sephora) it could last me a year! It’s true that money can’t buy long-term solution, but I am thankful for the temporary fix. I am in view that if it’s within budget, a good splurge lifts us up to face the hard things.

  • Wow! This is such a timely and inspiring post for me. I’m rather sad at the moment – for the last few weeks. Ever since a member of my family was diagnosed with cancer. I’ve done a lot of binge eating and spending on social situations. I only figured out why recently but hadn’t figured out how to overcome it. Maybe your post has hit the nail on the head. I need to figure out what my alternatives are. How can I self care? How can I deal with these emotions better? Thank you for your honest writing.

  • I’m so sorry you’ve been feeling sad, Cait :'(

    I know very well what it’s like spiralling down the food binging path — this was how I soothed myself for over 15 years of my life until I got sick of feeling sick from it stuffing my face at every chance I got to numb my emotions.

    Like you, I now have a self-care plan that I turn to when I’m feeling low. My favs: Speaking with a close friend … I find the act of connecting and sharing so soothing; Just sitting quietly to read a book (Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose always helps bring me back to a better and saner place) while nursing a hot cup of tea with honey; pouring myself into something creative, like a blog post so I can focus on others; or just getting outside to clear my head.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing so much of yourself. It helps so many others more than you can imagine. Sending you lots of love and light. xo

    -Michele.