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O.K., here goes...

Today I have become a person who no longer reads romance novels. That's it, in black and white for everyone to see.

Please don't laugh...

I suppose I should give some background info. There are a few different tangents that will help clarify where I'm coming from.

First of all, I love reading, always have, always will. I started voraciously reading when I was about 10 years old. It started with classic young adult series: the Borrowers, the Black Stalion Series, all the Nancy Drews.... It morphed into sci-fi/fantasy in middle school. Piers Anthony, Anne McCaffrey, Michael Moorcock.... I would stay up 'til 3 am reading, get up at 7 am, go to school.... 3 hours of hockey practice and then I'd get to read again. I always got my homework done, I carried my 3.9 GPA (damn you civics!) in college I picked classes that asked you to read.. History, English Lit, Philosophy....

Screech forward a decade... I'm out of school, dealing with kids and house cleaning. There was/has been very little "me time." I was going through the local public library... Every now and again I like to randomly select a book off of any shelf, and read whatever it is that I grab. One day it happened to be a romance novel.

Now, snobby old me would publicly turn my nose up at the idea of a romance novel... Let's face it, it isn't Tolken. So I started reading them in secret.... I was too ashamed to admit that I liked them (They can get really hot!). Then I got an iPad, downloaded the kindle app...and all hell broke loose... Or rather all control was lost.

I fell back into the habit of staying up all night to read...to the detriment of other aspects of my life, like taking care of my home and family. It hasn't affected work, but still. I'm at the point now where I have no idea what my children eat for dinner, and my house is embarrassingly dirty.

tangent number 2:

I strongly believe I have a genetic predisposition for addiction and depression. The depression is pretty obvious, I've managed it with some not so great habits: food, shopping, and yes, romance novels. I'm sure many people would suggest medication, even my husband has, but I'm scared of addiction issues and the side effects of antidepressants.

My grandfather was an alcoholic. The reason I feel I have an addiction problem is because I make decisions based upon my desire for that pleasure, rather than doing what I need to to to function properly in my life. Shopping has been an issue (over-spending), i eat without stopping when Im depressed. There have been all sorts of habits that I recognize as giving me a high. I have known something was wrong with the romance novels since I realized I would rather read a romance novel than cook my kids dinner. And I'm ashamed to say, that is exactly what I have done. Seriously, how is o.k. to tell your 9-year old son that he'll have to pick dirty clothes out of the laundry basket because mommy was reading last night and didn't have time to do any laundry. God this is embarrassing!

I've tried stopping, but I keep buying the God damn things! Whenever I get a little depressed or overwhelmed, it's just one click on my kindle, and my drug of choice is instantly delivered to my ipad, or phone, or computer. I can't stand that I don't have the control to follow my own advise of avoiding something that isn't good for me! I've tried just reading one chapter a day... I haven't been able to do it. I seriously think the only way I can beat this is to go cold turkey.

I'm sure there is all sorts of stuff I'm leaving out, but I don't want to drag this out forever....

The point is, today is the day that I've finally said I've had enough. I'm not going to be that person anymore. I am now a person who doesn't read romance novels.

This is going to hurt, and I'm sure many people would laugh, because I mean, really? Romance Novels?

I didn't say this wasn't going to be embarrassing!

I'm scared that I'll pick up some other bad habit to replace this one with. I'm scared that I'll never find something to make me feel good again. Will I be able to find something that makes me feel good but that doesn't "hurt" me or my family.

So this is my respawn point.

I'm going to be checking in as a method of holding myself accountable. I'll try not to bitch and moan too much, but rather I want to focus on positive thoughts and ideas for how I'm going to get through the withdrawl, how I'm going to develop new healthy coping skills... I'm desperately hoping that getting some physical exercise in my life is going to help!

If anyone feels like checking in to give me a thumbs-up or other form of encouragement, I'd really appreciate it. This is incredibly embarrassing for me, but I'm doing it because if there's anyone else out there in a similar situation, I want them to know that they are not alone.

I figure that if its some that has to be hidden... It can't be a good thing....


Time to walk through that door, close it behind me, and never look back!

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I have a question.  


What will you do when you get stressed, instead of reading romance novels?


As you observed, every addict has their own vice.  For some people it's alcohol, for others it's MMORPGs, or tobacco, or porn, or gambling, or self-harm, or food binges, or fanfiction, or sleeping round the clock, etc.  The vice is a coping mechanism.  You use it to cope with (escape from) the stresses of your life.


The problem with giving up a vice is this: with nothing to take its place, it is pretty hard to stay off it, because that vice (like it or not) filled an essential need for you.  You can swear off the vice, but the need will not go away.  You will still have moments when you're stressed and want to escape.  So what will you do then?  You need to have a plan in place, otherwise you will take up the old vice or find another similarly destructive one.


p.s.  Common "quitting" coping strategies include: going for walks, getting a glass of water (or tea/coffee, if your addiction is not caffeine), praying or meditating, listening to music, playing an instrument (even shaking a pocket rattle, no srsly), phoning a friend...

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Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.

Hylian Assassin 5'5", 143 lbs.
Half-marathon: 3:02
It is pitch dark. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

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I have a question.  


What will you do when you get stressed, instead of reading romance novels?


The problem with giving up a vice is this: with nothing to take its place, it is pretty hard to stay off it, because that vice (like it or not) filled an essential need for you.  You can swear off the vice, but the need will not go away.  You will still have moments when you're stressed and want to escape.  So what will you do then?  You need to have a plan in place, otherwise you will take up the old vice or find another similarly destructive one.

Point very well made!

I didn't want to write a 3-volume novel with my first post, but I've got some ideas...

For coping mechanisms I've got a few options that I'm hoping will work for me. (And I'm open to any other suggestions! - that's part of why I'm going public with this :) )

1. My next 6 week challenge is going to include a daily meditation. I'm hoping that meditation will be one means of dealing with my stress and depression. I've tried it a little before, and it was very relaxing and insightful. More than half of my issues are what is in my head, so the idea is to be able to learn to still some of that mental turbulence. I didn't stick to it very well before, but this current challenge has been so helpful with keeping me on track, I have good hopes that this next challenge will help as well. I've got a stronger incentive this time.

2. Exercise. I love walking. Unfortunately I have a current situation with not being allowed to walk or hike because of a tendinitis issue I'm resolving. But I can swim and ride a bike. I'm hoping to spend my summer months either starting or ending the day at the gym pool, or riding my bike with my son when I get home from work. I've got my 3x a week workouts (upper body) and some yoga videos to keep me busy.... I'll be thinking about what else might be an option.

3. Music. I forget sometimes how much music helps me relax. It can totally turn my mood around. Sometimes I need something that expresses what I'm feeling, sometimes I need something that can move me in a new direction. I'm planning on making a "driving home" playlist and a "the world sucks" playlist, a "find your happy place" playlist.... Music can be very cathartic. I'm thinking I may even try learning some basic piano. I've got one sitting in my dining room that isn't being used. It was my grandmother's. I've always wanted to know how to play.

4. Cleaning. One of the reasons I feel so bad right now is because my house is such a mess. When I do clean, I get an enormous amount of satisfaction out of it. I need to learn how to separate my feelings of frustration that no one else in my house cleans, from the fact that I feel good keeping a neat house. There are a whole bunch of mental issues here that need to be resolved, but I've gotten tremendous satisfaction from keeping my kitchen counters clear every day (my side quest for this current challenge). Even bits of dusting for 2 minutes can make me feel better...

5. Journaling/art journaling. I understand that most of the reason I've been reading instead of everything else is because I've been avoiding confronting issues and feelings that I don't want to deal with. Journaling should help me with that. Art therapy, if you will. I've got tons of supplies, and a whole studio in my basement that hasn't been used in months. It's also a good thing to do when I'm feeling restless and at loose ends. Like exercise, usually it only takes me a few minutes to get into it, and then I'm good to go for at least an hour.

6. Finishing projects and using what I have. I'm a crafter, or at least I had been until these stupid books started getting in the way. I've got so many hobbies that I can take advantage of: stained glass, jewelry making, fiber arts and knitting, quilting, painting... I have a blinking pottery wheel! I'm planning on registering for a class at the local community college in the fall to help me get back into throwing clay on a wheel. I have very fond memories of using it in the past. I remember that throwing pottery was also very relaxing...

Those are the ideas that come to my head at the moment, and I'll be looking for more ideas wherever and however I can find them.

Happily, I believe I can do a lot of this stuff with my kids too. Bike riding, ceramics, art, and I can certainly mother up and teach them how to clean up after themselves!

Thanks for the reply, it's helped me to start getting some thoughts together to help figure out how I'm going to manage this :)

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It took me almost 40 minutes to delete the romance novels from my kindle today! Ugh! It kept asking me if I was sure that I wanted to delete them. YES! YES! I want to delete them!

I tried turning off one click purchases, but you can't turn them off for digital download items! Ugh! I've had enough for today. Tomorrow, I'm going to delete my payment info so that the one click won't work. It's a temporary bandaid for now, because I'm going to have to learn to control the impulse to buy them, but for now it will have to do.

This is a good thing.... This is a good thing....

I did lots of laundry today, and the downstairs has been vacuumed. I managed to keep busy/ distracted. I realized that I needed something to help me wind down at the end of the day. Jounaling on my various NF threads has helped :)

Time for bed :)

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sounds good, you've got a dandy plan and are putting it into action!  Excellent job :)


A tip for meditation: don't fight your mind if it is noisy in there.  Just surf it without getting too caught up in it, if that makes sense.   It will quiet down on its own sooner or later.  You can meditate without the "empty self" goal, which was invented by people who purposely retreated from the real world.  Normal people have a lot to think about, and that's fine; all you have to do is breathe and observe your thoughts and feelings.  You don't have to control anything, you just have to be there.


I never did like that one-click business, makes it too easy to buy things by mistake.  One time I bought something with it and the item didn't show up for weeks; I later discovered it had been sent to an address I haven't lived at in years, which Amazon still had in its system.  Creepy Amazon and its creepy stalking.

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.

Hylian Assassin 5'5", 143 lbs.
Half-marathon: 3:02
It is pitch dark. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

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Have you thought about seeing a counsellor? I don't know what's available in your area, but I'm currently working with someone at a local women's center for my stress and mild depression. She's not a doctor, so it's really just a place to vent. It might be good to have someone you can be 100% honest with.


And good luck! I've always been the sort that gets pretty heavy into daydreaming when I'm going through a rough patch. Leaving the fantasy would can be rough, but it's a good thing.

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Have you thought about seeing a counsellor?

Yeah... ironically my husband is a licensed clinical social worker (i.e. a counselor). We've talked about it on occasion. His focus is mostly with adolescents, but he's been able to help me with some of my issues. Of course there is the fact that lots of what is going on in my head is tied up in my relationships wih him and the rest of my family, so it's hard to be objective. Honestly I haven't put much effort into finding someone to talk to yet. Trust is a big issue for me. Part of me is terrified of digging too deep and poking the "raw spots." Posting here is sort of a mini step for me...just to get talking a little.

I've been really inspired by many of the posts I've read at NF, I love the idea of leveling up and working to be a better version of myself. This is one aspect of me trying to do just that.

I've been reading some of the archived blog posts, and came across a mention of a book called, "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business." I downloaded it a while ago but finally started reading it today... It seems really appropriate for my situation. I realize now that I may have overstated the addiction aspect of my really bad habit, but maybe not? It certainly isn't a physical addiction like nicotine or caffeine, but it feels real enough for me right now that I'm treating it as such.

Ultimately it's also tied to my lack of progress in the past of not being able to stick with a fitness routine. My thought is that if I'm going to get strong, both physically and mentally, I've got to be able to both understand and be in control of my mental health. True this topic is not about me physically getting in shape, but I will never get there unless I address this issue.

So taking some advise from the book, I'm going to spend some time trying to identify my cues, routines, and rewards. I want fitness to be one of those things in my life that is rewarding, not sporadically like it is now, but as part of my definition of who I am. I want to be the kind of person who wakes up every morning not just knowing that I am someone who love to get into or staying in shape, but be someone who FEELS it in their bones of "this is who I am". Does that make any sense?

I can tell that I've already made some progress because I get a truly awesome feeling so satisfaction when I mark a big red X on my workout calendar (indications that I've completed another day). These are the kinds of things I'm looking for, healthy things that give me a reward as opposed to my destructive habits that I don't want to have anymore.

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I hate coming home at the end of the day


It should be the one thing that I absolutely look forward to at the end of a long tough day at work,  but the opposite is true.  I spend my entire work day taking care of other people, fixing other people's problems (as well as my own).  I act as a sounding board to whatever problems or complaints my boss is having.  By the end of the day I am mentally exhausted from maintaining the the good attitude I need to get me through it all without having an explosive mental breakdown.  


For the past two days I've been trying to notice my habits and thoughts starting from the moment  I leave work.  The drive home is fine... except, I've been allowing my son to vent about everything that went wrong with his day or what he is frustrated with...  Now, my son never used to share, so my husband and I at one point when he was younger encouraged him to talk about anything he wanted to....  Turns out most of it is pretty negative.  Ironically, we both recently came to the same conclusion that we need to teach him both the social consequences of being too much of a pessimist around other people, and we need to teach him to think more positively.  Basically, that just adds to my mental burden


That was a tangent... so back to my arrival at home.  I notice that the moment after I park my car and walk through the garage door, I immediately focus on finding some form of relief.... For me that means that I walk straight into the kitchen, put my stuff on the counter, and open the fridge.  After I peruse the fridge, then I check the pantry, and then the freezer.  It makes no difference if im hungry or not.  I feel a compulsion to put something in my mouth that "makes me happy."


But wait there's more!   While I'm in the process of stuffing my face.  My kids are shedding their things all over the hallway living room and kitchen.  So I spend the next few minutes badgering them to pick up their stuff and put it away.  After about 10 minutes of that, my husband arrived home and vents about his day.  


So after about 30 minutes of all of that.  All I want to do is turn off and escape!  I am so done with everything.  I've got no energy to clean or cook or anything.  


I've managed  two full days without my Romance novels, and it has been really uncomfortable.  I'm still attacking my fridge when I get home, but then I don't know what to do with myself.  So far, I've gotten out of the house to run some errands, I'm reading the habit book (VERY insightful),


But now I feel like an animal pacing in a cage.   I need a new habit that will give me the same reward as reading:  Relief, escape, relaxation.  I was thinking that maybe I should try getting changed into workout clothes just before I leave work, and I should go home and spend an hour listening to good music and stretch for 30 minutes or so.   


It's worth a shot.  of course I don't have a change of clothes with me today, but I have to bring my kids home after lunch, so maybe I'll pick them up and bring them back with me when I come back to work.  

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wow, sounds like you are one of those caretaker types who is great at taking care of everyone but herself.  Small wonder you get hooked on a little "me time."


It sounds as though the whole household could stand to cultivate that gratitude business.  Perhaps you could request your husband to, instead of venting to you about his day, tell you one nice thing that he's happy about that day?  (Even if it's just "coming home," which is frankly a pretty great thing.  Think how many people in this world are stuck with dangerous jobs, working 14 or 16 hours a day, and coming home to a cramped, unheated shack with no running water, a herd of starved children, an abusive partner, and bugs all over the place.  And no birth control, medical care, or education in sight.)  


If you've got to have a taste when you walk in the door, maybe pour yourself a glass of iced tea or cucumber water or whatever non-sugary thing floats your boat, and perhaps have a nibble of fruit.


So tell each other something nice, and then give him a hug and see if he'll rub your back.  It's a great opportunity to bond and make each other feel better.  In the car or at dinner, make the kids tell you something good about their day (or they don't get to eat dinner).   They can vent if they want, but they also have to tell you something they're happy about.  They'll get the hang of it fast.  Studies have shown that a gratitude habit can actually rewire your brain and make you happier.


Kids are good at ignoring nagging (I'm nearly 30 and my parents still nag a bit; ignoring it is one of my top coping methods). So if they're not paying any attention when you tell them to pick their stuff up, you may need to change your strategy.  Bear in mind that your nagging probably sounds to them just like their venting does to you.


meditation will help cut down on negative thoughts, because eventually you'll become aware of just how many negative thoughts you are having!  And you will find that ruminating on stuff that upsets you is not necessary and it's okay to just breathe and let the thoughts go by. A little venting can be healthy once in a while, but too much is very unhealthy, especially if you are unable to let other people's vents "slide off."


If sitting still isn't your thing (try it and see), you can meditate over a cup of tea, a bubble bath, a candle, a rock, combing your hair or flossing your teeth (no kidding, when I have a mega-stress day, I spend extra time getting clean and flossing before bed).  If you're doing a sensory meditation such as tea, don't buy expensive tea bowls, but go find a good tea shop and invest in some tea that you really like and learn to brew it properly.


best of luck!

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.

Hylian Assassin 5'5", 143 lbs.
Half-marathon: 3:02
It is pitch dark. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

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As far as getting the kids to clean up after themselves, have you considered something like Choremonster? Kids get points for doing chores; as the points mount up, they can cash them in for rewards (game time, extra TV, whatever you set for them) or bank them for something really huge.  A positive incentive usually works better than a negative one.


Now, this may seem like an odd thought when dealing with addictive reading, but how do you do with audiobooks?  I have the same problem as you, to a lesser degree: if a book is really engrossing, I'll ignore everything else.  With an audiobook, I can have part of my attention focused on the book while the rest of me cooks, cleans, does laundry, etc.  I get my reading fix, the work gets done, it's all good. 


I see it like using methadone to get off heroin.  You're going to 'fail' (ie not be able to resist stress-reading). There's no shame in it, everyone fails.  If you can arrange to fail in such a way that the detriments are minimized, then failing in that one thing doesn't cascade into failing everything.


Hope this helps!

"If you get into trouble, you can always eat something, blow something up, or throw penguins." - Jim Henson


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Boredom... Complete and utter boredom.... I am so restless right now I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs.

Today is day number 10. I haven't really been keeping track, but I just went back to check. For the most part I've been keeping myself busy, but nothing has been as relaxing as getting lost in a book. I've been doing some reading of other kinds of books, but it just isn't the same. Mostly I've been doing stuff to keep me busy until I'm tired enough at the end of the day that I can finally go to sleep. Listening to music has helped a lot. And exercising has been great too. It's only at the end of the day when I'm looking for some way to unwind that I get restless again. How ironic! Wanting to relax makes me tense! :) im hoping that this restlessness will eventually morph into something more productive. I don't like to think that I'm pouting like a little child.... Still, nothin appeals right now, and no amount of giving myself a pep talk seems to be helping.

Strangely I have absolutely no interest in downloading or reading a romance novel. That will just get me back to where I started, and I already KNOW I don't like that. I wish I could just figure out what to do instead! I don't want to go to my studio, it's to cluttered to feel any sense of peace in there. I think I'll spend an hour or so cleaning in there tomorrow so that the space becomes closer to usable again....

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Hi! I just wanted to check in and let you know how much I relate to your post and am inspired by your actions. How has it been going the past week or so? I love all of your ideas for productive things to do instead of zoning out w/ a romance novel (I'm definitely guilty of the stay up too late to finish a book thing). I'm often embarrassed by the state of my house, but by the time I get home from work, get my son fed and off to bed, then get myself some dinner, I'm just so done for the day! The idea of getting off the couch to do a little house maintenance just sounds terrible. And then of course on the weekends I just want to relax. Definitely need to get my bum off the couch and start establishing some routines. Anyway, just wanted to let you know you're not alone, I admire the steps you're taking, and would love you to keep us updated on how it's going  :redface-new:

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Well. I haven't picked up a romance novel since the original post. I'm not counting days because I don't want to get caught up in a feeling of hyper focusing on the issue.

Anyway, for the most part I've been having some serious boredom issues. The current six week challenge has been very helpful distraction wise. I've been meditating every day. I also find that I have to give myself lots of breaks throughout my day. I'll stop every half hour or so and change what I'm doing - even if it's just a short stand up and streatch. Then I'll tell myself to keep going with whatever I'm doing for just a little while longer... It helps to break up the monotony for me.

Surprisingly I haven't really gotten into my art journaling, I've spent a lot of time just doing short bursts of cleaning up. I feel really good about that. There have been times when I've really wanted to just go lose myself in a good book, but I haven't found anything yet that lets me completely escape.

I'm still looking for something that really motivated me and I'm constantly trying new things. Overall I'd say that I'm happier without than I was when I had them. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

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