I am an atheist.

Whoa, that might have stopped a few people in their tracks, but only if you haven’t ready some of my other posts before. I was raised a Baptist, as well as a non-denominational “Christian”, but I always just felt off. I didn’t fit the bill, I wasn’t living up, and I felt there was just something big I was missing to believe the way that was expected. I just didn’t have faith no matter how much I prayed for it.

Now, before the majority of my readers, friends, and family start sending me messages about praying for me and unsubscribing, let me be frank. My daughter is a Christian who very much believes, and my mom is still a believer, though she doesn’t think organized religion has done a good job of things in this day and age, and chooses to study and worship in her own way. I respect them both immensely, religion is just not for me. To be honest, for years, decades really, I’ve held a deep-seated anger toward religion to the point that I couldn’t even hear someone else speak about it without feeling this need to just shut it down or walk away, until about 2 months ago.

The number of fights I found myself in as it pertained to religion was MANY in my past; especially with my mom. I’m not sure if it was this continued feeling of not being enough, or if it was ED’s whispering’s in my ear, but I was just mad at the world where anything religious is concerned. You wouldn’t have caught me dead (and yes I realize the irony in this statement) listening to Rachel Hollis, who is very clearly a spiritual if not religious individual!

So before I get into my spending this week, I want to back up just a bit, because in this last year of therapy and now in my daily life recovered from ED, I realized something. You have to back up and treat the cause of whatever is going on in order to push forward and truly change whatever it is you’re trying to fix. I’m not trying to ‘fix’ my inability to have faith in religion or believe something I personally don’t, but I would like to have the ability to not create anger where it doesn’t have to exist. Even more, I’d like to be able to respect people who believe differently than me without anger creating a divide.

Whether it is a brilliant idea of helping create a solution to world hunger, or it’s simply being able to be around religion as an atheist, you can’t go forward until you figure out what’s causing the issue and fix it! That was exactly what I did this last year. I didn’t say to myself, I have a spending problem, so let’s discuss ED. No, of course not, that is simply ludicrous. I started by saying I have an ED problem, so let’s figure out why and how to fix it, then we’ll worry about the rest. And, because I stopped worrying about perfection, which was a big step in and of itself, I also was able to reflect back at a lot of the conversations I had during therapy and realize there is a fair amount more work I’d like to do with myself. Starting with my life not being all about me. (see my post last week for more on this topic)

You see, I was a terrible Christian, and it wasn’t simply because of the anger, or because I didn’t get the moral messages. Ironically, I understand and have memorized more scripture than most people who are devout in their faith. The issue wasn’t my lack of trying even because that forced push in myself to be something I wasn’t contributed to my ED. Rather, it was my lack of belief coupled with my inability to understand myself and fix the biggest issues with who I was as a person that made me so miserable. So, for those of you struggling with an ED still, stop looking at the plethora of things you feel you are not understanding in life, or struggling to do right, and just examine the piece that is biggest right now; most likely ED. 

It’s funny, but I think I spent the vast majority of therapy discussing my mother and the ways I was seeing her and her opinions or choices. During this time I was also very strongly working on my ED, but it wasn’t until my ED was resolved that I was able to look at myself in the picture of my relationship with my mom to see where it was going wrong. When I was trying to force beliefs I very obviously didn’t connect with or feel at my core, I was the worst type of person. I was judgmental, and mean, and unhappy. Anger ruled my day to day and created this foundation with an inability to truly put love out in the world. 

You are about to read something (if you’re a believer) that might be one of the more profound things you’ve read recently. I am a FAR better person as an atheist than I ever was as a Christian. Let me repeat that again in case you missed it the first time. I am a better person, now that I’ve let go of everything I am not, and chose to heal the thing creating anger in my depths than I ever was able to be as someone fighting to fit a mold I simply couldn’t fit into. I am a square, not a round peg, and forcing things made the anger worse. 

So how in the world does this tie into my spending ban you might be asking? Well, for one, I would never have gotten to a place in my self-development and search for growth to want to serve others or look at the ways in my life that I might change things to be more. Sure, with ED in my ear I was always searching to be more, but for entirely selfish reasons. I never asked myself if what I was doing had the potential to impact others in a way that would truly put love into this world at a time when it’s in short supply. It was always, always about feeling good enough, being affirmed by the people around me, and being the best (or prettiest, skinniest, or whatever just insert an adjective here). 

This first week of the spending ban was interesting to say the least. First, on day one I realized how easily I tended to spend money. Less than 45 minutes into my day I happened to be thinking that I needed a new glass nail file because the handle on mine is broken. I was literally searching Google for a good place to purchase when I realized what I was doing and the spending ban kicked in! That was a quick savings of $10 if there ever was one!

As the week progressed, I received some previously purchased WISH items in the mail, and I have several more to come. To be fair, this onslaught of previously purchased items will probably help acclimate me to this new version of Amber 2.0 where I don’t spend money, but I also started to pay attention to new things this week. This surprised me in a way I hadn’t expected. I noticed that I was asking myself if the items I did need to purchase were within the bounds of my rules, and if not why I was wanting them. I was amazed at the number of times I would have previously spent money without a second thought, and have started to ask myself what it is that makes me want to?

Funny enough, this week was also my kid’s fall break from school, so rather than spending money as I normally would we found a lot of interesting things to do at home. We did a lot of cleaning, watched several movies or episodes of things we were wanting to see. I spent time talking more to my kids, and loving things I might have missed had we simply went and spent money doing something else. I did splurge one time this week and took them to Culver’s one afternoon, but it was necessary because of a doctor’s appointment and the timing of picking up one of them from a friends. We simply wouldn’t have had any lunch had we not spent the 15 minutes grabbing something there. 

At the end of the week here is my tally of interesting money going in and out:

  • I made some money doing a friend’s hair
  • I spent the same money on my recovery tattoo (see below) which I had included in the rules since I knew I was getting it.
  • I realized in starting Pure Barre with my mom that I only had 1 tank top and 2 pairs of capri workout pants, so I did put the one’s which didn’t fit anymore in a donate bag, and went to Walmart to buy 2 more pairs of pants, 2 tanks, and 2 sport bras. I replaced the old ones. I also would have never went to Walmart to do this before, but decided if I had to spend according to my rules, spending less would be better.

The end result of the week. I am having a record month in my Rodan + Fields business, though I feel far more balance than ever before. I am reaching out and ‘loving’ on at least 5 people every day with no expectation in return, and while I did spend a small amount this week, overall I saved FAR more compared to what I would have spent had I not been doing the spending ban! I was able to pay down about $600 in debt this week, so that’s a BIG plus. 

I’m putting this here as an accountability, but in the next 12 months, I want to make a big dent in my student loans since that is the only major debt I have, and build my business by about 40%. Let’s see how this continues to go when my previously purchased WISH items stop rolling in. I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot more painful!

Week 1 down, 51 to go!

My recovery Tattoo