NOTE: This article was originally posted to my previous blog, “The Healing Project,” in April 2010.
I love to shop! Walking around a boutique or department store, I’m like the proverbial kid in a candy store. I revel in the delights of pristine new clothes, shoes, and accessories.
Sometimes I am content to just look, but more often than not, I feel tempted – or even compelled – to buy. I feel as if I lose my sense of reason and rationality when I find myself face-to-face with new things.
There’s No Reason for Me to Buy So Much!
I often do buy, and at times it’s just too much. After all, I don’t work in an office surrounded by the same people day in and day out, so I can repeat my outfits more often than those in the corporate world.
In truth, I spend many of my days at home in front of my computer wearing workout clothes. For much of the time, the only ones who see me are my husband and my cats. I do enjoy dressing up for my husband when we go out, but he’s fine seeing me dressed casually at home, and I know the cats don’t care if I’m wearing pajamas or a little black dress! Suffice it to say that I don’t really need a large wardrobe, but need doesn’t seem to factor into the equation much of the time.
A Rare Shopping Outing with a Friend…
Not long ago, I allowed myself the rare weekday outing of shopping with a friend. I found myself buying things I didn’t really need and which aren’t exactly practical for my life. As I drove away from the mall, remorse hit me like a ton of bricks. Not only was I afraid to reveal my purchases to my husband, I felt weak and ashamed. I had broken my commitments to my husband and to myself around spending and sadly, this was far from the first time I had done this.
A Comedy Brought Realization and Tears
A few months ago, I watched the movie “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” This movie was supposed to be a comedy, yet it brought me to tears. While I was watching this movie, I realized that I, like the main character, had a shopping problem.
I hate the feeling of being out of control. I imagine that the way I feel in a department store is how a compulsive gambler feels in a casino. I know someone who had a gambling problem and she is steadfast in her belief that she can never gamble again. I shudder to think of never shopping again, yet I know I need to do something about this problem.
Buying, Returning, and Lack of Self Control
When I buy too much, I often end up returning at least some of my purchases. This helps to alleviate some of the stress, but it sure would be easier not to buy these things in the first place… I dread going back to the stores with my tail between my legs, but far worse than my embarrassment is my feeling of weakness and lack of self-control.
Most People Have Compulsive Behaviors
I know that not all of you have shopping problems, but I’m guessing that you can relate on some level. We all have our compulsive behaviors, whether they be shopping, drinking, eating, sex, gambling, working, or something else altogether.
I have vacillated among several compulsive behaviors throughout my life, with the most difficult being shopping and eating (or at times, not eating). There seems to always be something, but I am self-aware enough to know there is a much deeper issue than the compulsive behavior itself.
There is an emptiness inside that I am desperately trying to fill, yet I know no amount of new clothes or shoes can fill that hole. Awareness of this fact is the first step toward healing my shopping problem. I know I won’t overcome the problem overnight, but I am on the right track.