I will begin my “Weekly Check-in” by confessing that it hasn’t been the best week. On the positive side things improved as the days progressed. I began the week feeling accomplished from having finally launched this blog. Then on Monday piles of boxes arrived containing “stuff” I had ordered online the previous week. That dreaded feeling began to seep in as I witnessed how much I had bought. I started to panic wondering if my husband would notice and comment on all the packages (seriously, how could he not notice!). I even got angry at the retailers! Why do they have to ship everything in multiple boxes…surely that makes everything look worse than it is - right? As I rushed to carry the stack of packages into the house, I began wondering exactly what was in them. Did I even remember everything I had bought? I didn’t…and this made me feel like a drunk with a hangover who can’t remember the previous night.
The next day I tackled the task of unboxing. I tried on dresses, shorts, bathing suits, sandals, pajamas, and even bras, quickly tossing each item into one of two piles…keep and return. I was racing through everything so quickly that I couldn’t even enjoy myself. I felt like a contestant on “Beat The Clock” (if your not over 50 you may not remember that game show). There I was..I should have been cooking dinner but was still trying on clothing. I boxed up the returns and put them in my car trunk to drop off at the Post office the next day (when would I have time to do that?). Two boxes still remained unopened, but I desperately needed to cook dinner. Plus, I was exhausted and honestly have everything I need for this upcoming trip (and probably three more trips). Furthermore, I still can’t remember what I ordered in these boxes.
The following day was my therapy appointment. These sessions are always cathartic and I leave feeling lighter (similar to when I go to confession and am given absolution from the priest). Near the end of my session I asked “what do I do now”? I now possess a good understanding of the many many reasons that led me to become a shopaholic. I also have identified the numerous things that trigger me to continue overshopping. But what am I going to do with all this great knowledge? What don’t I know? What am I not getting right? What else is there to help me steer clear of weeks like I’ve had recently where I’ve rocked the shopping boat and tipped it over? My therapist offered a suggestion which resonated within me. I now need to experience and accept the emotions of NOT purchasing what I desire. Wow….this simple thought struck me right between the eyes…yes, I have never learned what it feels like to not get what I want (in material things). My parents never said “No” to me. I have no training in how to get over not getting what I want. So strange since I have definitely taught all my kids that you can’t always have everything you want…I’ve just never taught myself. I need to practice what I’ve preached! This must be my next step. I need the “parent” inside me to teach the “child” inside me that I can’t have everything I want AND that it’s OK and that I will be just fine without it. I need to say “No” and allow myself to feel the turmoil, disappointment, temper tantrum and any other feelings that may surface. I also need to be empathetic with myself and remember that it’s okay to feel what I feel and to be patient with myself in learning that I can work through and get past all these emotional barriers. I know what I need to do next, but can I succeed?
After this epiphany my week started to take a new direction. There were no further online or in-store shopping frenzies. Is it because I am temporarily exhausted from all the online shopping boxes I had to sort through? Is it because there is nothing left I could possibly want to buy for this anticipated vacation? Is it because I am finally filling a void with the work I am doing on this blog? Likely it is all of these things. My goal this upcoming week is to refrain from purchasing any additional summer clothing (no matter how perfect they seem) and to really pay attention to how this feels. I also believe it would be a good idea to reread Dr. April Benson’s book “ To Buy or Not to Buy“. It has been a while since I read it and I may gain new insight from it at this point in my journey.
Although this past week could have been much better, I am filled with hope that I CAN and WILL improve this next week. When I first started therapy I had high hopes that all I had to do was pay off my credit cards, close the accounts and “presto” I’d be cured…no longer a shopaholic. How many times have I consoled myself to believing that “once I bought those shoes” or “after I get that bag” I would not desire to buy anything else for months! Each and every time it was untrue and I‘d be contemplating my next “have to have” before even wearing the shoes or new bag I’d just gotten. Yet, each failure I encounter, each setback, each dent in my armor, is a stepping stone. I realize there is no magical elixir I can swallow, no safe haven I can hide in. I have to walk this winding, rocky path and if I can accept my journey then I can learn from each footprint I make.