Getting To The Real Story

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I’ve had some sucky days this week and when I’m writing this it’s only Tuesday. Yep, I’m off to a good start, huh?? My challenges have been mostly mental and so tonight I thought I’d blow off some steam by doing something physical. I went to the gym to play some volleyball and guess what? I sucked! Haha! What was I thinking? I cannot win…or can I?

Dealing with Character Defects

While my challenges may feel like huge mental hurdles, it could be way worse. It can always be worse. But when you’re having a crappy week and someone reminds you of that, how does it make you feel? Me, usually worse. Then I start to feel bad about feeling bad, LOL. It’s a downward spiral.

I know one of my greatest defects of character is self-pity. When I got sober and into recovery, I did a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. I looked at all the resentments, relationships, and most importantly my part in things. It was apparent that self-pity had been steering the ship for many years.

When I saw it in black and white I thought it was ugly. I thought I don’t want to be that girl. I’m done feeling sorry for myself!

But you know what? When the going gets tough, it’s very easy to fall back into what we know. Now to break out of that mold, that’s a tougher battle. I’d argue that’s a battle worth fighting.

Early on in my sobriety, my sponsor (and good friend) would tell me when I started to fall into that rut of self-pity, I needed to set a timer.  I could allow myself to wade in the muck for a bit but when the timer went off, I had to choose to get out of it.

Good advice. I still follow it today.

The Wounds of Our Past

My problem now is I tend to push myself harder and harder. I want to run as far away from self-pity as possible. When things get rough I keep putting myself out there and that typically results in me getting smacked in the face.

Yeah, I can be like a pendulum swinging from one end of the spectrum to the other. I’m still a work in progress. 🙂

I’m learning the hard way that I need to be gentle with myself at times. This week is one of them. It can be of great value, for both you and me, if I hide out in my prayer closet for a bit. And doing this does not have to include self-pity.

Occasionally, I react to things out of the wounds of my past. There are certain triggers that take me back to hurtful memories. When I was a child, I didn’t know better and just learned to cope. I developed some useless habits and believed many incorrect things about myself.

Anyway, whenever I react out of a wound of my past, I feel a need to reflect.

Creating New Space

The balance that I seek is in creating my own place of retreat. I’m an extrovert and so I often feel refreshed after being with people. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t need alone time.

When I hid away as a child, pre-teen or teenager, it was often to cry, be angry and feed that monster called self-pity. It was a typical angst-filled response.

Since getting sober, I’ve relied on the help of many people. Yeah, I’ve done a lot of work journaling alone but when those oh so familiar feelings of pity returned, I’d do anything but be alone.

I’m realizing, though, I don’t really have anything to feel sorry about anymore. When those demons appear, I have to fight them off and remember who I am today. When I retreat now, it’s to reflect, pray, and make declarations.

Breaking Free and Finding New Life

I made some choices in life that lead to me getting into situations where I felt completely stuck. In my early 30’s I was addicted to drugs and alcohol and in an abusive relationship. Yep, it all stems back to the lies I believed about myself.

A lot of things lead up to me breaking free – friends expressing concern, a vision from God, and ultimately me surrendering. I had to remove myself from the situation in order to get help.

I’ve only ever looked back in favor of wanting to reconcile, learn from my past, and find a new future.

Upon getting sober and out of said relationship, I poured myself into finding out how and why I got there. I talked to hundreds of people, some professional and others who had just learned to recover from similar downfalls.

For fear that my brain would not completely heal I also lost myself in researching the brain and the different effects drugs have on it. I’ll never forget a pivotal day when I was watching a series of DVDs created by medical doctors. They were talking about what occurs in the brain under the influence of different drugs. In these DVDs, they explained the typical length of time it takes the brain to heal from each specific drug. I watched with bated breath!

Then I heard the words that were like music to my ears, “the brain has the amazing ability to heal itself”. This was the glimmer of hope I was searching for! Up until this point, the verdict was still out in my mind. 

What’s This Got To Do With Money?

What place does this story serve on a personal finance blog? Um, a BIG one. Who we are spills out into all areas of our lives. I call that leftovers.  Previously, my financial leftovers were in a disarray.

Since getting on the path to recovery my finances have also lined up.  Now I find joy in personal finance and love teaching others. What I’m finding is, that when there are money problems, it’s not really about the money. There’s always a story behind it. Get to that story and you’ll be able to gain control of your finances.

For many years I lacked self-confidence and that had an impact on my finances:

  • I tried to keep up with others
  • Financed what I couldn’t afford
  • Bought stuff in an attempt to feel complete
  • Ultimately needed drugs/alcohol on a daily basis

Getting to the root of my problems has and continues to be the key to my successes. 

Whether you’re digging your way out of debt, working toward financial independence, or both, I bet it’s not really about the money.  I’d bet it has something to do with staying true to promises made, finding freedom, and freeing up more time to pursue your passions in life.

So I say go deep and figure out what’s driving you.

Then dig deeper and discover your purpose.

Finally, find a way to live your purpose now and every day.

A lot of times our purpose in life is tied to the biggest challenges we’ve had to overcome. I know mine is and I’m the better for it.

So tell me what’s the story behind your journey?

17 thoughts on “Getting To The Real Story”

  1. We all struggle with character traits that we’ve developed from past experiences, how we were brought up, or just because we learned them on our own.

    The best people are those who can admit to those traits they want to change, and continuously work on making them better and better, and even better again.

    I love heading to the gym to get some physical activity in when I’m down, it isn’t always about winning or losing (although I’m a competitive person), it is more about just going to do something!

    1. Yep, we all have character defects, huh? I agree that it’s what we do with them that has the potential to make us great.

      Physical activity is so healthy and it is always a good outlet. I’m fairly new at playing volleyball. I played one year in HS so I know some of the skills, but basically, I consider myself a novice in training. So much of it is mental for me and because I was off mentally it just showed in my playing that night. I play with really good players too as I was told that is how to get better. It’s all good though. It’s humbling and builds character to be willing to keep going back for more.

      Thanks for stopping by, Chris!

  2. I’m sorry this has been a bad week for you. It hasn’t been the best week over here either. I think it’s directly related to really being alone with myself and having to contend with where I am in life and why I am doing it.

    I love how you said “getting to the root of your problems has and continues to be the key to your successes.” For me, I feel like I’m finally going for something that completely terrifies me. The stakes are high, and I used to only go after low-hanging fruit I knew I could reach. I would only put myself out there for things I knew would make me successful because failure terrifies me.

    I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that being an officer in the Air Force and becoming a nurse may be the first REALLY challenging thing I have done in a long time and that it will not be easy or full of rainbows and butterflies. I have already made mistakes, been knocked down a few notches, and learned some hard lessons.

    I know I will come out on the other side a stronger, better person, but right now, it is hard. Every day, I grapple with the why’s and how’s of what I’ve chosen to do with my life (if that makes sense?).

    Thank you for sharing. Your posts always inspire me to dig a little deeper and think harder about who I am and what I want in my life.


    1. Firstly, hugs back!! I love your thoughtful comment and I’m honored to inspire you to dig deeper. It’s sooooo worth it.

      Keep going, girl! What you are doing is motivating to me. You’re going after your goals, your dreams, and the best part is that you know it’s going to be hard. Anything worth achieving is going to require a challenge. The fact that you’ve identified past patterns of going after the low hanging fruit is HUGE. Now it just sounds like you’re ready to take it to the next level and go after what you really want. You’re willing to risk some stuff to go after it.

      I’m reading Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink and he has a page titled Good. He talks about how his response to failures, setbacks, delays, defeats, and other disasters is “good”. Basically, he is saying that all of these things can make us better and teach us something and so when one of them occurs, he says, “good.” I just love that perspective. So what I’m saying to you is in your journey when you have a setback, failure, mishap or other like events, learn from it, embrace it and become the best version of you!!

      I’m rooting (and praying) for you.

  3. We are so much alike my friend! I am sorry for how you have been feeling but know that you are not alone in how you are feeling. We all have a past that has affected our current selves and will affect our future in many ways also. You are so strong and you have made it so far out of all that pain and you are an Ovecomer! You got this girl and you are inspiring myself and so many others!

    1. Thank you for that! It does always help to know I’m not alone.

      You are exactly correct and I love your line, “we all have a past that has affected our current selves and will affect our future in many ways also.” Profound reflection! This is what makes up the fabric of who we are, huh? Peace to you and I sooooo appreciate the encouragement, girl.

  4. It sounds so ridiculous, but I feel like I’m still looking for what really drives me. I just left my job and I’m kind of finding my journey–getting certified as a yoga teacher, volunteering, writing. Somehow when we work forward, even if not with a specific goal, life seems to work out. Thanks so much for sharing your story and being vulnerable!

    1. Hey Heather, congrats on your mini-retirement! I just read your article on that and love how you are not sure of what the future holds but yet you have some very clear goals and action steps to find your drive. It sounds like a lovely exploratory season of life. Nicely done on building up your financial situation to be able to do that!

      I wish you skill and intuitive thought as you embark on this journey. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  5. Thank you for sharing your story – for being honest, open and vulnerable. Digging deeper can often times be uncomfortable but it does help us grow as you say. It’s also not always easy to find our purpose, our passion, our drivers. Trying different things and not being afraid to fail but to learn is a great help towards that goal. Also making a decision, going with it but not being afraid to alter course along that decision if it’s not working for you. No decisions are wrong – just learning opportunities 🙂
    Thanks again for sharing and reminding us all we need to keep digging and growing!

    1. Well, thank ya for reading my story. I’ll tell you since I got sober, I find it so refreshing, to be honest, and vulnerable. As you can imagine, I wasn’t for many years.

      You are right that it’s not always easy to find out our purpose, passion, and drive but the exploration is sooooo worth it, yes?! Failure is humbling and hard but certainly part of anyone’s story. It can be our greatest teacher and the producer of some awesome fruit.

      Thank you!

  6. This is so good, and so true! I just love how you share and open up on here. In my opinion this is what makes the money stories more interesting…. we know the “origins” or those underlying causes of the present money situation.

    I just love your stuff…. Awesome post Deanna! Thanks for always being so open!

    1. TJ, good to see you here, my friend. I really appreciate the support and feedback.

      I keep gravitating to these raw stories that are not always about the numbers. Sometimes I think, oh crap I have to make this more about money since this is a personal finance blog. But then I realize this IS part of the story. My money situation, like everyone’s, has a backstory. I think it’s the backstory that helps others figure this $ stuff out too.


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  8. Hi Deanna,

    What a beautiful post with so much truth. Who we are and how we react to the hurts in our life has everything to do with how we also handle our finances.

    I have to disagree however on this being a character flaw. I sincerely don’t believe that your character is flawed. In fact your reactions are a very human response to hurt. Sometimes our mind reacts in self preservation when we are at a place of hurt that we are not ready to deal with yet. Unfortunately this sometimes builds bad habits.

    Self-Pity may be a bad habit, but I don’t believe it is a character flaw. In fact, I think your beautiful character shines through in this post as you talk about how you are seeking to change this bad habit.

    Your character impresses me. Your transparency about your struggles is an inspiration for all of us. We are all a work in progress.


    1. Hello Bonnie,

      Thank you for taking the time to read and give such a thoughtful comment.

      Additionally, thank you for disagreeing and sharing a new perspective. You certainly are giving me another angle from which to think about things. It’s a gentler angle.

      All kinds of things happen in our mind in self preservation mode and perhaps we learn poor coping skills or as you say bad habits.

      Thank you for complimenting my character. 🙂

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