Clinging to Useless Possessions


Here are my revised goals as of January 25, 2015:

Short term goals:

  1. I live in New York City
  2. I have a reasonable spending plan to which I abide. It covers my basic living expenses, self-care, savings, investment, tithing, and entertainment. I have a positive cash flow and spend less than I make.
  3. I incur no unsecured debt.
  4. I lift or do CrossFit six days per week.
  5. I drink a gallon of water a day.
  6. I abstain from all nicotine products, excessive caffeine, compulsive sex of any kind, and unhealthy foods.
  7. I don’t drink or do drugs.
  8. I write for four hours every day.
  9. I spend three hours every day working on the other side of my vision— the “business side of show business,” networking, making calls, mailing scripts, following leads, etc..
  10. I have a prayer and meditation practice, at least 15 minutes morning and evening.
  11. I attend one recovery support group meeting daily, in person or via conference call.
  12. I have a three month prudent reserve.

Long term goals:

  1. I own a residence that I love in NYC.
  2. I have a healthy body that serves me well. When I look in the mirror I’m pleased with what I see.
  3. I have written 25 movies, 10 TV shows, and 25 plays.
  4. I am the man of my dreams and I’m married to the right and perfect husband for me.
  5. I head a successful production company.
  6. I make $110K or more per month.
  7. I live off 10% of my income and direct the rest to do good on the planet.
  8. I head a successful nonprofit that helps Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. We teach Pure Peer Support techniques, host weekend retreats, sponsor creativity workshops, and offer paid internships in the entertainment industry providing the veterans employment that fulfills them and sustains them financially. We have big, beautiful work spaces and in New York City and Los Angeles.
  9. I have a six months prudent reserve.

I have a lot of anger coming up. That’s to be expected though. Any time an addict stops doing the addictive behavior, there is usually some kind of withdrawal involved. I’m on my sixth day of recovery from underearning. I’m having withdrawal symptoms. I’m still learning about exactly what “sober” with regard to underearning is. I know that debting is not part of recovery from underearning and since I get paid on the 1st and I’m using my credit card to eat, I guess I’m not yet sober. I am reaching out to others, attending support groups via conference calls, reading literature about this phenomenon and listening to lectures on tape from people who have recovered from the same disease.

I’m grateful that I have the experience of so many years of active recovery from alcoholism because I can use that as a reference. When someone who is new to sobriety tells me they’re feeling awful, I usually say one of the things that pissed me off so much when I was newly sober— something like, “That’s great! This will force you to take the steps you need to take to recover and hopefully you’ll remember how bad it was when you think about going back to drinking or drugging.” Now, I just have to remember this as it pertains to my being a newcomer to recovery from underearning.

The fourth symptom of underearning according the list of “Symptoms of Underearning” that my friend sent me is:

Clinging to Useless Possessions. We hold onto possessions that no longer serve our needs, such as threadbare clothing or broken appliances.

Yep, I got this one too. I have boxes of “stuff” stored in Walker County. Some of the boxes, I don’t even know what’s in them. I did notice the other day that Adam (he had helped me pack towards the end of my time in Utah. “I’m free now bitch,” he said) had written on one of the boxes “absolute miscellany.” I don’t know what’s in the box. I do know that a lot of things that he would look at and think of them as worthless do actually have monetary value. I held on to all that stuff because I at the time still held on to the idea that maybe one day we’d have a log home in the woods and those antiques would be beautiful in such a place. Those dreams crumbled with the marriage. So I have Ansley, and Waterford, and Hadley. There’s what I believe is an antique ivory temple (you can’t legally sell ivory), I have three oil paintings, two are 19th century and one is from 1980. I have a 19th century chest-on-chest with wood inlays, a fourposter bed from about the same ear and a butler’s desk that is supposedly very valuable, I have a Ducati Motorcycle, a Toyota Tundra with $5K worth of new tires and wheels on it (yep, I know) and I own an RV that is ten years old and in good condition. I have no money. That’s not true, I have a little bit of cash on hand but I’m about $70K in debt so the way I look at it, I have no money. My liabilities exceed my assets. I don’t even know that for sure because you see I don’t know how much my assets are worth. I have a lot of vagueness around money. That is part of this disease of underearning.  I need to let go of at least some of these possessions that aren’t serving my immediate needs. And I don’t feel like I can do that without help. Perhaps from that I could get enough cash to make a new start of it in New York.

Other than for reasons of season/climate I still about five times the amount of clothes I wear. This is after giving away more than half my clothes when I left Utah. There are a few broken things (a couple of antique lamps) but mostly the stuff I have isn’t broken. I held onto because I had that dream of using it one day in my own home. I hate to just hock all those antiques because I do believe Waverly willed them to me because he knew I wouldn’t do that. He wanted to think his possessions, which had been part of his parents home would be part of another loving home. One of the oil paintings alone, he told me, was worth $30K. That was in the late 80s. But I have never had any of this stuff appraised. I don’t have the money to pay an appraiser. I know that things are only really worth what you can get for them and since I have so little cash right now, I hate to get raped on the sell of anything just because I’m desperate. I continually have to pray for Dr. Nelson for bailing on the financial part of our arrangement. My situation is a constant reminder of that. Life lesson. Moving forward.

Since, because of my underearning over the years, I have found myself so often in financial difficulties, it’s been hard to let go of any possessions that I felt like had value. I’ve known a lot of people like that. A lot of Southerners have had family histories that included at least intermittent deep poverty. Therefore, a lot of barns and sheds in the South have things that might be “worth something” that no one is willing to let go of. I think, as far as I’m concerned—let me speak for me, it is a demonstration of some kind of fear that I won’t be taken care of.

I’d give somebody 10% of the take to come to Alabama and sell all this shit for me. “Shit.” See? I must, on some level, not really value it. With respect to the things Waverly willed to me, there’s a piece that’s associated to how I feel about what I had to do to ingratiate myself to him. Those are some painful memories. There’s a fear that if I sell them, I’ll only be able to get much lower prices than what they are actually worth and what I could get if I hang on to them until a better time to sell. See? I don’t even know if this is a “good time to sell.” I just made that assumption. Struggling economies may be a great time to sell; what the fuck do I know? My intuition tells me that these are the times when the greedy elite are able to best take advantage of the poor and working class because we are desperate and willing to make sacrifices more readily. I find that I resent the rich. That’s something I should probably look at.

The first thing I should try to sell the RV. I think it’s worth around $15K. I have no idea what I could get for it. Part of my also hates to sell it. My mom gave it to me but my brother and his family might want to use it sometimes. My brain tells me they are more worthy of a good life than I am— maybe not my brain—certainly not my heart— something tells me that for sure. I have a pretty low opinion of myself lately, my talents and good intentions notwithstanding.

Okay, I’ve kept you long enough for today. God, I hope all this turns out happily in the end. I would have for those of you who have supported me through this process even by just reading the blog and “lending an ear” to be disappointed. And yes, I realize how pathetic that is.

I’m off to see two movies at Sundance today. (I’m paying for the tickets by giving to a charity foundation in monthly payments over the next year if you’re wondering why “broke guy” is off at a fancy film festival. My cousin gave me sky miles to get here and I’ve been eating by debting or when I’m treated to meals. I’m grateful for this incredible gift but at the same time feel a lot of shame for not being able to afford these things for myself. The fact is, I’m here. So I need to soak as much benefit out of the festival as I can— let it provide me with hope and inspiration. A lot of these filmmakers and actors have been exactly where I am. I’ve been asking questions and listening a lot— praying that one day again that can be me up there talking about my movie or play.

See y’all tomorrow.

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