Last year, things ended with a guy I had been seeing, and I spiraled. I bought clothes, shoes, theatre tickets — anything, really, that I could get my hands on to help me cope. I disguised it as “treating myself” and “self-care,” but in reality, I was buying things for a temporary high so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the real emotions I was feeling. I felt better in the moment, but in the long run, I was not thrilled (and neither was my wallet).
There’s the emotional downside to ending things with someone you really cared about — and then there’s also a great financial downside. I’m a very sensitive person, and I don’t usually deal with my emotions in the best way. Often, when I’m feeling something that’s not between a 3 and 7 on the emotional scale, I choose to try and suppress it, expecting things and experiences to make me feel better. And look, sometimes they do make me feel better. I love theatre. I love clothes. I love books. But when I’m emotionally volatile? My love of them turns into a compulsive need to have it now, regardless of the cost or consequences.
My desire for a “fresh start” after ending things led me to a few months where I had to walk a financial tightrope. I coped by buying, and now I was suffering.
More recently, I ended things with another person I cared deeply for — someone I had been falling in love with. These were new emotions for me, way beyond anything I had ever felt for anyone else. And I felt myself falling into the same pattern as last year — wanting to spend to help me escape. But I’ve stopped myself. I’ve taken a step back, and I’ve tried to find other ways to help me deal with my emotions that won’t come at a huge cost to my bank account.
I don’t journal religiously. I usually write once a week and do a grand summary of emotions, but I’ve found that writing what I’m feeling the moment I’m feeling it helps to provide some release. It helps release the urge to suppress that feeling, too. Sometimes what we really need is to just let everything out, and journaling helps do that in a healthy, contained way.
Yes, gyms are expensive. Classes are expensive. But you don’t need a gym or classes to get a great workout. Taking a long walk or run, doing yoga videos on YouTube, using the stairs in your apartment building — all excellent (and free) ways to de-stress and aid in coping with your emotions. And not to get all Elle Woods here, but exercise does give you endorphins. Sometimes, when you’re sad, what you really need is something to help you feel better — and exercising is just the thing.
As much as Seamless and going out to eat are part of my life, they’re not necessarily helpful when trying to save money. Cooking dinner not only saves me money but I find cooking relaxing. It gives me something neutral but lovely to focus on, rather than my recent heartbreak. I pour a glass of wine and pretend I’m on Food Network. Groceries cost money, sure, but the $50 I’d spend at the grocery store will yield more meals than the $50 I’d spend with friends at a restaurant.
4. Adding, But Not Buying
It might seem ridiculous, but sometimes I find that when I’m browsing online the mere act of adding something to my cart is enough to de-stress me. I don’t actually go through with buying the $600 of clothes, but there’s something about the act of adding to cart that gives me a mental break. Maybe it’s not really about buying anything at all — maybe it’s always been about feeling like I need to ~do~ something.
Certainly, there are myriad other things I can do to help relieve my current broken heart, but I’m determined to make sure that whatever it is I use to cope, it won’t become detrimental to me financially. Heartbreak is universal, and we all deal differently, but the need to sometimes suppress those emotions can have negative effects we hadn’t realized. The next time I feel like I want to buy something, I need to analyze my current emotional state. If I’m feeling sad about things ending, then I’ll know it’s better to release these feelings in a different, more effective way. Just because your heart is broken doesn’t mean you need to break your bank account, too.
Jenn Ficarra is a Manhattan-based writer. Her articles have been featured on Bustle, babe, Huffington Post, Elite Daily, and Thought Catalog. She has studied playwriting at The Barrow Group and has had two plays, Wedding Bell Blues and The Fracture, produced. Follow her on Twitter @jenniferficarra.
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