A few months ago I wrote a piece about a compulsive shopaholic for my humor writing class and submitted it as my final assignment to be viewed and commented on by fellow classmates. I didn’t have to go far to research this piece. I simply needed to reference my own shopping experiences and blow them up into exaggerated proportions. I knew the essay was funny and would illicit many smiles and chuckles so I wasn’t surprised with most of the feedback received. However one comment made me pause, sit down and reflect. After confirming that my work was funny and entertaining, she added “ I only wish the character had come upon her ‘A-HA!’ moment so she could start to change her ways”.
Recently, my shopping desires had begun to bloom again and I wondered if I would really ever change. Could I truly overcome my obsession to shop? Or would I always just be this flawed, laughable character? Now mind you, I don’t really tip my mailman each month to place my delivered packages into a special garbage bin. Also, I did not take my first steps as a baby in a department store dressing room. BUT…I have snuck purchases into the house and hid them in the laundry room and I did go to great lengths to locate a ridiculously expensive dress I once saw Jennifer Aniston wear. I also must admit to once purchasing a ski jacket from my iPhone while waiting at a red light.
All these pathetic, albeit funny moments had truth in them...MY truth...truth I was not exactly proud of...and sadly I could envision a side of myself doing all those things again!
During that time I had begun shopping for a mid-winter Florida trip that I’d been looking forward to. The thought of being in warmer weather where thick cashmere sweaters and down filled parkas were likely banned tickled my shopping senses. I envisioned myself divinely basking in the sun’s rays and catching me off guard some old habits started to emerge. I began shopping for the perfect clothing to accompany me to my southern destination. I desired new things to help me escape the winter and my dull, frozen life.
At first I justified it as “just a few new things”, but when I found myself still shopping while I was on this vacation, I realized I needed to pull the emergency brake! What was I doing? I knew if I let this continue it would snowball to blizzard conditions and I’d be trapped trying to shovel my way out again. I could not, would not.
These last months have been an up and down struggle for me filled with weeks where I have controlled my shopping and other weeks where I have not. Each time I falter I can stand back up knowing that I’m learning...surely a work in progress...a wheel in motion. But as long as I’m moving I will get to where I want to be. I do not want to go back to being that laughable woman I wrote about. So what now? Could this be my “A-HA!” moment? Perhaps we get many such moments on the journey to recovery. Perhaps there is not just one A-HA moment and I should welcome each and every one I get because they signal progression. They validate that I am recognizing the downfalls sooner and that gives me hope that there might be a day where I will see the bump before I trip.