Personal

It is Time to Press Pause

I’ve suffered from a bit of an existential crisis these past few days. My beloved daughter informed me that she plans to officially marry in November.

By some time in December she should be gone.

It’s all hitting me. This stage of my life is officially over.

I started blogging as a form of cheap therapy. I needed to get my thoughts out of my head so that I could focus on my goal of being the best single mother I could be.

In hindsight, I believe that I focused on minimalism and frugality because, in a life that seemed so out of control, money and possessions were the two things that I could control. As one of my friends pointed out so many years ago, I tend to slip into “survival mode” when facing emotional issues.

In other words, when faced with something I cannot control, I shift my focus to shaving as much off of my budget as I can instead of dealing with what is truly bugging me.

And I’ve become quite good at that. As I announced in an earlier post, I doubt that there is anyone blogging online who lives quite as cheaply as I do.

That said, I’ve reached a critical juncture in my life. My youngest daughter, my sole reason for fighting the fight for almost 20 years, is leaving.

If I am not very, very careful, instead of dealing with this head-on I will bury my pain deep inside and obsessively focus upon my finances.

I can already see the signs. When I start seriously conserving money by washing my clothes in a bathtub despite the fact that I can afford a laundromat and debating the financial implications of a purchase, I know that I’ve slipped into survival mode. I can preach different reasons all I want but I know myself, and I have finally realized exactly what I am doing and why.

I am trying desperately to avoid the pain of loss that is eating me up inside.

It is high time I stopped doing that. While saving money is a good thing, my continuing obsession with money is unhealthy.

While I still want to achieve financial freedom, I have decided that I need to shift my focus inward for a time. I need to face the fact of my changing circumstances. For once in my life I need to face my pain instead of burying it deep.

I need to press pause, step back, and seriously evaluate my life.

I have not made this decision lightly. Behind the scenes of this website I have been madly writing about my finances. I even penned some painful posts about things that have happened in the past, posts that really need to stay buried, at least while some of the people involved still live.

I’ve written so much these past few days that despite increasing my posting schedule to a daily format I had things scheduled into next year as I’ve tried to come to grips with what is happening to me. Upon a critical review of my words late last night I saw myself for what I am: a woman in the midst of a major life change.

Some of the ravings didn’t even make sense as I flip-flopped between obsessively focusing on my finances and ranting against the cold, hard reality of what I am facing.

This stops now.

I pulled every single one of those posts. In fact, I’ve pulled every single post that I had scheduled from this day forward as an added precaution. I intend to review them over the next few weeks. I want to sift the good and helpful from the drivel and craft them into something that may benefit you before I give them to the world.

It is time for me to sit back, take a deep breath, and figure out exactly what I want to do next. I know I need to grow up. I know I need to own the fact that I am changing. I need to accept the reality of what I have become, decide who I want to be, and start making positive steps in that direction.

I will return in a few days, I promise. I simply need to work out a basic idea of where I want to go next without advertising the worst of my internal crisis to the world at large. You don’t need to witness that.

That said, my focus on extreme frugality is over. I have traveled as far as I can safely go down this path.

I’ll write more later.

 

 

14 Comments

  • Deirdre

    I wish your daughter and her fiance every happiness but it’ll be a wrench for you I know. Your readers will still be here when you’ve figured it out. Do not rush yourself.

    • Annie

      Thank you, Deirdre! Just the act of placing a formal pause has helped immensely, as well as being honest about the issue. I’ll be making a few little changes as I go along but I doubt I’ll be posting much until I regroup. I will definitely be posting a post in a few days (a week at most I hope) to explain what made me realize that this step was necessary. I want to clear my mind a bit and have a good think in order to compose it properly.

  • Linda Sand

    I’m proud of you! Facing these issues will not be easy but you will be fine. I’ll be here when you are ready to come back.

    • Annie

      Thank you Linda! I’ll be back soon. I just needed to put a stop to things long enough to get my bearings and I didn’t feel that it would be right to handle this behind the scenes. I’ve always strived for honesty on this website, so this is part of the bargain. When I feel that I’m no longer being honest to myself (or you) it is time to make some changes.

  • EcoCatLady

    I totally get it. It’s so much easier to bury oneself in a project than to face something that’s emotionally difficult. And focusing on extreme frugality, or ecological perfection (one of my go-to applications for self flagellation), or dieting (another one I turn to frequently) has the added lure of self-imposed suffering. I don’t really understand how it works – but for me, at least, there’s something about punishing myself that makes me feel like I’m really in control… when the issue is, of course, that none of us can really control much of anything, least of all our own feelings.

    I went to a physical therapist a few days ago – for some pain I’m having on my bicycle. She diagnosed me with a lower back obstruction and gave me some exercises to do every 2-3 hours. Well, apparently I store my emotions in my lower back, because doing the exercises makes me dissolve involuntarily into an uncontrollable puddle of sobbing – and I don’t even know what I’m crying about. It’s a good thing, I think, but a bit disconcerting for a control freak like me. I’m not advising back exercises, but if there’s something that gives you that emotional release, it’s worth letting yourself “go there.”

    Take care of yourself.
    xoxoxo
    -Cat

    • Annie

      Oh wow, Cat! Hopefully, I’ve caught things before I get to that point, but if I haven’t I’ll have to work it out. This was a bit of an epiphany to me but as I began to read over the posts I’ve already shared I can tell that it has been brewing for a while. I just hadn’t noticed it. When I did notice it, I was like OMG! So I slept on it and attacked the issue with as much of a cool head as I could–by pressing pause for a moment to get my bearings and I wanted to be open and honest about what was happening. You deserve that much.

  • Luisa in Dallas

    Good for you, for realizing that you need to make changes now that your daughter is successfully launched (launched, but not lost). You gave her the gift of knowing what self-reliance looks like and how to achieve it; that gift will serve her well.

    Looking forward to hearing about your continuing journey, if and when you care to share it.

    • Annie

      Thank you Luisa. I do plan to continue sharing my journey; I just need to figure out where I’m going first!

    • Annie

      Aww, thanks! I’ll be fine; I’ve just got to work some things out in my head. Sometimes you have to take a moment and think things through instead of blasting ahead and that is what I’m doing. It will be okay. I’m definitely a survivor!

  • Older housewife

    I will miss your posts on frugality. You seem to have so much wisdom on what is really important in life. Enjoying the small things in life and not needing so many material things is truly an inspiration. I love your simplicity.
    Your daughter has been raised well and taught the important things in life.

    • Annie

      Hello! I’m sure there will be posts on frugality; it’s too much a part of my life at the moment for me to leave it entirely behind. The main thing is that frugality is not my primary focus, if that makes any sense. I’ve got to find balance and I will. It will just take time.

  • Cam Coogan

    Perhaps you’re feeling the effects of empty next syndrome? You have been a dedicated mom with a focus on your kid for so long and now, with her marrying and leaving, that role needs to be redefined.

    I am glad you are taking the time to take a break, step back and think.

    I look forward to your return!

    • Annie

      Thanks, Cam!

      I do believe that I am suffering from my upcoming Empty Nest. Katie has been such a huge part of my life for so long that the emotions are bubbling over. And that’s okay. That’s perfectly normal and shows that I’m human. That said, I need to take it slow for a bit while I re-evaluate things. I want to move forward cautiously until I regain my footing.

      Thank you so much for understanding.