Inner Turmoil

September 21, 2002

I have been struggling with allowing myself to have a new laptop. This is not something I need to have. My wife and I already own three desktops and an IBM ThinkPad. We are not lacking computing power.

The ThinkPad is a fine machine, and since it only cost the price of a new hard drive ($90) to have, it was a perfect machine. However it wasn't new, and it isn't sexy.

I want something new, sleek, and sexy. I want something light and portable, that does all the new computer things. I want an Apple Powerbook G4.

When asked about my reasoning behind this need I was unable to define a good reason. I have been battling a depression for sometime now and I want this new toy to bring me up again. I know that putting responsibility for my happiness on something external like that is not a good idea. The up turn in emotion is short-lived, and often followed by an even deeper depression; as now you've added a potentially ill-conceived choice to the mix.

I want it because no one else I know has one. While many of my peers have laptops, they don't have this one. I want it because it will make me feel better or more special than them.

What really threw gas on this particular fire was seeing a listing on an online auction site for a new Powerbook at a fraction of the new price. In the end I decided that the person selling was running a scam and I didn't follow through. I felt helpless in the process, and I felt as if I was losing my dream machine.

My depression lately has been due to a feeling of helplessness at long-term physical issue my wife and I have been dealing with. There is nothing either of us can do about this situation except hang on had ride it out. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but for now we both feel depressed and out of control. Getting this Powerbook, and moreover, getting it the way I wanted to get it, would go a long ways towards making me feel in control again.

I know that there is nothing wrong with wanting a new toy, even it that toy costs many hundreds of dollars. There is nothing wrong with wanting it to impress other people or to make myself feel special. What is wrong is expecting the purchase of something to meet emotional needs that aren't expressed or understood.

Michele and I had a very long discussion this morning about my obsession this week with getting a Powerbook. In the end I had discovered that I was trying to address my fears and depression by buying something. Better to express those fears, and cry the tears of depression openly and honestly with my wife, than to suppress them and make a purchase that will be forever tainted by the emotional memory I'll associate with it.

I am going to sleep on my decision to make this purchase now. I need time to reassemble myself after the hard emotional work I did uncovering the real needs behind my obsession with getting this thing. Even though I can now separate my reasons for needing and wanting a laptop from my emotions about our situation, I am still vulnerable and need to be cautious so that I don't set myself up to be hurt again.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.