I feel like a fraud.
I have been stalling the launch of this blog for a couple of months now. I kept waiting until I felt “good” about my “shopping issues”. I would have a few tame days…maybe even a week…a month even, and then I’d trip and stumble (again)…a Michael Stars dress…a Gucci belt….the perfect summer Henri Bendel tote…all these purchases would deter me. How can I blog about being a “recovering” shopaholic when I’m not feeling so recovered lately?
My therapist has been very supportive and encouraging of me in my pursuit of sharing my journey with others. It is with her nudging (and a little hand holding) that I deciding to launch this blog even though lately I’ve had some setbacks in my own recovery.
I had been doing fairly well with my mindful shopping from October to March. I had cleaned out my closet (I actually had the entire closet gutted and redesigned which was so exciting). All my fall and winter clothes were neatly organized and I made certain to only keep things I loved and was confident I would wear. Any additional purchases were for items that I felt I lacked or would compliment what I already owned. I practiced mindful shopping. I carefully crafted my shopping lists, planned my strategy for purchasing these items, without compulsively buying what I didn’t plan for. I spent only the amount of cash I had available with no debt on my credit cards. I was proud of my progress and started to feel like “I got this!”.
Then came Spring. This time of year is especially tricky for me. After a long, gloomy, cold winter I was so very very ready to be outdoors basking in the sun. I had daydreams of myself at lively backyard parties, dining waterside at my favorite Hampton restaurants, and even just running errands around town without wearing my Uggs. I also had two trips planned to Florida in the month of March. Vacations are a trigger for me. Growing up, my parents and I went on vacation once a year for two weeks in the summer. Every year my mother would buy me new clothing (even new underwear) for our vacation. This “tradition” of new clothes for vacation has stayed with me even though I may have several trips a year!!
In early March I began “mindfully” shopping for a “few” new fun summery clothing items and accessories to bring on my trips. The internet was full of flowing maxi dresses, carefree rompers, gold hued sandals and the perfect statement handbags to pull together the perfect summer looks. I quickly started to buy more and more, my compulsive behavior returned like a tornado wiping out all reason and mindfulness that I had built up. I began spiraling out of control! Boxes from various stores kept piling up on my front porch. Worry started creeping in as I was concerned about my husband seeing all the new packages arriving each day. I would hastily try things on, make decisions and repackage my returns before anyone noticed that I was purchasing so much. I justified it all by feeling like I deserved to spruce up my spring/summer wardrobe. Truthfully, I just pushed all rational thinking out of my mind figuring that once I went through all the (many many) purchases I would only end up keeping “ a few” items anyway. I would say to myself “Go ahead, buy it. You can always return it”. I did return a lot, but I also kept a lot!
At the end of March (after my trips were over), I knew I had to steer myself back on course. I decided to NOT SHOP for the entire month of April, hoping it would reset me, calm me, and give me a chance to sort out what I did in March! It did to some extent. I found it was not difficult to go a month without purchasing any clothing but I wasn’t sure if it was because I was really gaining more mindful control or simply that I knew I could go back to shopping once May arrived (and I was still living off the high of all my March purchases).
Once May came I started right back up again. This time I was planning the perfect wardrobe for my end of June Bahamas vacation. During the past three months of Spring I did yank my warmer weather clothing out of storage and sort through it. There was so much there that I no longer liked or didn’t fit right anymore. But to be completely honest, there really was enough there to pack for my vacations. I just wanted NEW. New bathing suits, new sandals, new dresses, new coverups, new..new..new!
And so here I am today…feeling like a fraud to say I am a recovering shopaholic when I have not been so “recovered” these last 3 months. But I can say this with certainty…
Today is a new day and I cannot focus on the past. I need to move forward.
Certainly, there are emotions to dig through in order to uncover why I regressed so quickly. Why did I toss my mindfulness out the window and bring myself back to a place of feeling out of control, guilty, and insecure? If nothing else, I hope this blog with help others to at least see that they are not alone in their own personal struggles with overshopping. Perhaps, we can help each other better manage each temptation and trial we face and also each setback we have. But in order for change to occur we must begin the journey….so Let’s Go!