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Paying Bills When Addiction Steals All Your Money
And why you should expect a refund from me if you paid for this newsletter
Many years ago, in my twenties, I was a stay-at-home mom to three little noodles. Once a week, my husband, who was addicted to drugs and alcohol, would “allow” me to spend exactly $100.00 on groceries to feed our family of five for the week.
I would walk the aisles, coupons in hand, looking for the best deals, trying to figure out what food would stretch us for the next seven days. Pasta, crackers, and frozen pizza. Never the brand names, no, no. And don’t even think about organic.
At the checkout counter, I’d nervously watch the tally of each scanned item.
Sometimes, I went over by five or ten dollars.
On the drive home, I knew he would make me pay for it. One way or the other.
Walking through the garage door, my husband would be waiting for me and quickly ask for the receipt. Then, I would get the babies out of their car seats, set them up in the house, and grab the groceries out of the trunk while he stood at the kitchen counter hovering over the bill, reviewing every single item and asking questions, like “do we really need two boxes of cereal?”
“It was buy one get one free,” I would explain.
When I spent a little too much money on some splurge items like sugary cereal or goldfish crackers, I would display the items in the pantry in a certain way to make it appear I purchased more items for us than I really did. For example, I would put the cereal box facing forward on the shelf, not sideways—little tricks of the eye for angry husbands.
I was trying to please him by spending only the money he allowed AND playing by the rules he set up by making it seem like we had plenty.
Look what a good, obedient wife I am, hoping he would notice.
But here’s the thing…
He made six figures at his job.
Quick back-of-a-napkin math would reveal we had more than $100.00 to spend on groceries.
But you know what (and who) is getting my children’s goldfish money?
Cocaine. Pot. Beer. Vodka. And let’s not leave out how expensive the “Call Girls” can be.
The items he was budgeting for were items that fed his addiction. Not his family.
The satiation of food in our bodies was a pleasure the kids, and I wouldn’t feel - because my husband was satiating his body with addictive substances.
But see, I didn’t know that at the time. Addiction was still his secret. All I knew was that I respected his rules, and we always lived in debt despite a six-figure salary.
Addiction is expensive, and it’s really effing hungry.
But let’s fast forward to many years later.
I divorced and remarried a wonderful man - you would love him if you met him. He’s THAT kind of man.
Last month, I was in the kitchen looking at the accounting and billing for this newsletter when my husband walked in and casually mentioned he received a bonus from work.
After congratulating him, I looked down at my computer screen and saw dozens and dozens of charges for $7.00 that had been declined.
And for some weird and crazy reason, I was reminded of the grocery bill story I just shared with you.
Then it hit me - these seven-dollar charges might be from women who were in my exact same position many years ago - women who were looking for help but, due to their partner’s addiction, were not able to pay.
The next few minutes, I shared the grocery bill story with my husband, and then I told him, “I want to give back all the money I’ve made on this newsletter and write for free.”
And because he’s THAT kind of man, he instantly understood, nodded with a smile, and said, “that’s a great idea.”
The truth is: that times are difficult now, and inflation is real. I believe in paying people for their work and love supporting writers (I subscribe to some wonderful female writers on Substack), but there have been years in my career when I worked for free. And now feels like it’s appropriate to do it again because I can afford to do so.
If you have purchased a subscription, thank you for supporting my work. You should expect to see your account fully credited in the next 7-10 business days.
It’s a privilege and an honor to write and research for you. Thank you for trusting me. I am really excited about our future and what we will achieve together. Every issue of the Love Over Addiction newsletter will now be completely free, and you can subscribe here.
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As always, I would love to hear from you - how are you doing this week?