“Be what you are. This is the first step to becoming better than you are.” Julius Charles Hare
This past week I have struggled with worrying about my writing, the honesty of my blog and how I may be perceived by others. When I first started this blog, I chose not to tell anyone who I personally knew about it. After all, I’m not really going to stand on my roof top and shout to the neighborhood “Hey Everyone! Guess What? I’m a Recovering Shopaholic!”. While I knew I needed to get the word of my blog out there, I only mentioned it to some fashion and shopping facebook groups that I belonged to. I felt these women would understand me, and I didn’t have to worry about sitting next to them at the next Parent’s Association school meeting discussing my latest shopping binge. I was not ready for any relatives or close friends to know and certainly not neighborhood friends and acquaintances. I admit, I was and still am afraid of being judged. It is a lot easier to tell 1,000 strangers that I have a shopping problem than to tell one mom that I talk to everyday at the bus stop.
Slowly, I started to disclose it to select family members and my closest friends. Some I knew would be shocked, others I knew would not. As I grew more comfortable writing about shopping issues on my blog, I also became more comfortable talking about it with the people in my life who I felt would be supportive. Once, when I told a friend about the subject of my blog, her first reaction was to giggle until she realized that I wasn’t joking. I recognize that not all my friends and family understand much about being a shopaholic. I’m sure more than just that one friend thought it was merely something humorous like the “Shop till you Drop” slogan and the “Confessions of a Shopaholic” movie. Others, I’m pretty certain, were surprised to learn that there are therapists and programs specializing in helping people (like myself) recover from shopping disorders. Still, no matter how much they did or did not know about compulsive and addictive shopping, they were my close friends…the people who have been with me through the happy times and rough times of my life…the people that I trust to accept and love me just the way I am. And because of that, it was not difficult letting them in on this personal aspect of my life.
Recently, as I continue to become less shy and more willing to discuss my blog with others, I started to realize that inevitably news of my “shopaholic” blog will spread. Soon it is very likely that others I know in my real-life, everyday world may read my blog. Some may read it because they too have a secret shopping problem, and yet many more will read it purely out of curiosity. Suddenly, that thought frightened me…I felt exposed. Even with all the love and support I have received these past few months, I still have feelings of insecurity knowing that at some point I will have to face the fact that not everyone will be so kind. Will others look down at me? Will they think I'm not a good writer? Will they speculate that my husband should have left me already? All sorts of thoughts like these circulated in my mind and I wanted to crawl up into a ball and roll under the bed.
I’ve always been uncomfortable with getting attention. I’m more the quiet, stay out of the way type. Do I really want the people from my daily life (who are not my closest friends and family) to know so much about my problems, inner feelings and emotions? Wouldn’t I be more comfortable staying quiet, keeping my guard up and pretending that all was perfect in my life? Could I handle the negative gossip that some are sure to whisper behind my back? Can I accept hurtful comments I may receive?
My husband always says “It’s none of my business what others say about me”, but could I believe that too?
I thought perhaps it would make sense to be less revealing of myself in future blog posts. I mean, do I really need to write about my crazy waves of peri-menopausal emotions? Does it truly matter if I mention how I once bought a winter coat on my iPhone while waiting at a red light? Does everyone need to know exactly how much I’ve spent on Amazon? Maybe I could write in more general terms. Couldn’t I still write about being a recovering shopaholic without revealing all the personal stories and feelings that I am not proud of?
After much thinking and debating within myself, discussing with my husband and praying to God, the answer I’ve decided on is "No". I must be who I am and share who I am. I must learn to accept myself as I am and not be afraid for anyone to see my true self or my real life journey. Yes, some people may be shocked. Some will gladly gossip. Some may completely misunderstand me. But hopefully some will want to get to know me better, because people like people who are not perfect. I learned that from a character development writing class I took. The instructor had us give the characters we were working on a flaw or even several flaws. She said the best characters in novels all have their own vices, weaknesses, foibles or simply put, their own imperfections. It is because of these flaws that we may relate to them, and find them more interesting and likeable. So perhaps all my mistakes, missteps, and failures make me more likable too.
I know that not everyone who gets to know me (or reads my blog) will like me and that is okay (says the mom in me talking to the child in me). I suspect that many will relate to me and many may not. But, I can not worry about this anymore. In order for my blog to be as I intended it….a place to document my own journey and more importantly a place where other people with shopping issues can find support…I must embrace my truth and continue to be genuine and honest in my writing.