Just a self portrait
By sheer coincidence I decided to begin my massive decluttering project on Cyber Monday because of my inner conversation about how much of a shopping “addict” I am. I don’t like to use the word addict for things other than drugs and alcohol addiction, because being a drug-addict and alcoholic, using “addict” for compulsive behaviors dilutes the necessary self labeling for the real thing. Still, sure, I buy clothes and possessions compulsively to my own detriment. I buy clothes online all the time, nearly every month, if not weekly. I have a hard time to stopping– in fact there’s packages on the way right now.
It’s destructive because I run out of money and I go into debt. I have maxed out credit cards and I can’t seem to comb them down. The funny thing is that I have more than enough money for an entire family but I can’t manage it whatsoever.
Why? Because buying clothes and other things creates a temporary high for myself with the anticipation of it’s arrival. Online discounts juice me up extra. I imagine myself in the clothes, I image the clothes fitting and me feeling attractive.
When I was in high school I had zero self esteem. I was overweight with big unruly hair and glasses. I had a big gregarious personality to the point of annoyance. I had a “mom body” from the age of 14 on and I didn’t know how to dress for it. The only times I was asked out was as a cruel joke in front of classmates. High school was miserable and I made it worse for myself because of my shit attitude.
When I got older, I got money. I started to buy my own wardrobe and it slowly shifted and actually alleviated my self-hate pit. Buying clothes lit up something inside of me that I never wanted wanted illuminated before: I felt beautiful and I was okay with how I looked.
But it was never enough. I worked a retail job for the enormous discount on clothes it provided. I got a credit card. I bought and bought and purged and purged and purged.
This habit never felt destructive, it just felt plain great.
Until it didn’t
I have found that most of the stuff I buy online are things that I wouldn’t buy in the store because the fit is not right, or the material isn’t what it seems online. I usually keep the items and then eventually donate them. Sometimes the purchases are great, but mostly they are unsatisfying.
Unrelated, but recently I have been having medical anxiety about a pain that won’t go away in my right abdomen. I admit, obsessively looking online with doom about potential medical diagnoses is another behavior I have consistently indulged. I am going to the doctor tomorrow and I think I will be just fine. But I can’t help and go to the dark-side of my own mind. What if it’s serious? What if I am dying? What then?
And it takes me back full circle, that if I was truly dying, all I would have to show for my life is a mountain of clothes. Now that’s a little dramatic however if all the clothes I bought and have donated over the years were not purchased, I could have gone on an international trip annually with the money saved. I am serious.
Anyway, I started the Marie Kondo method which she wrote famously in her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” which you take all of your possessions, pile them all in one place and ask each piece “Does this bring me joy?” and discard accordingly. I am finding that very little pieces of my clothing bring me joy– at least not in the way a good memory or experience. Most of them don’t even make me look that good.
The moral is pretty obvious– stop investing in short term highs that get in the way long term experiences such as travel. That’s a pretty “Duh” moment.
The problem is that going without is not something I have experience in. I have too much of everything always. And it’s never enough.
So today, by coincidence of it being Cyber Monday, I meditated all day on the role my stuff has in my life. All these things I have will eventually be sorted through and discarded when I leave this Earth and bares little significance other than it being mine. But the stuff not mine at all, not even this body is mine. Buying stuff I don’t need and can’t afford is borrowing against my own future for a thrill that all soon passes. I guess that is the thread that all addiction ties together. Addiction is endless bargaining between now vs. the future. I cash in my chips for now. I want to feel better now. I’ll deal with it later.
But, the later never comes because I am constantly re-upping and refilling. Another beer, another email that my package has shipped.
The only solution is to stop fucking doing it. But then what? Ah, the later has finally come but it sticks around like an uninvited guest except you learn that you are the guest. Addiction makes you a stranger in your own life.
The real solution is to not indulge the shitty compulsive behavior and to get honest. Don’t do it- don’t buy the crap and sit in your own skin until it doesn’t feel uncomfortable anymore. Repeat.
[insert wisdom here].
All I can say is that my hands are not calloused in those ways yet but I know that all recovery begins with a little honesty. I have a shopping problem and I am not sure what to do about it.
Thanks for reading.
since November 10th. It’s so so good to be home.
My brother and his future wife, Adina, just moved to Denver in August. Now that I am post-wedding, I was able to plan a small trip to come visit them in their new apartment. Tomorrow, all three of us are driving down to Farmington, New Mexico to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday. Read More
I got a call from Belk about seasonal hiring. I haven’t had a job in a while and I’ve applied about 7 places with no calls for an interview. It can get pretty frustrating but I try to keep busy and stay positive. Anyway, I told them I wouldn’t be available until after Thanksgiving because I am going to fly out grandpa for his 90th birthday and
spending the weekend at a cabin with my in-laws. They weren’t interested in
anyone who was unavailable that week, even though I am completely free everyday in December. I am disappointed but I know I am making the correct decision. No one should have to choose between family and work.
I am not sure why, but it seems like American culture can not stand depression, sadness, and grief in any form. The solution is presented with anecdotal musings about how to scrub sadness away, preferably with a homemade vinegar solution.
It’s the middle of October and I haven’t taken a single autumn photo until now. In fact, I haven’t been taking many photos of anything besides my honeymoon. I am getting in the habit of forgetting about all my hobbies including photography and before you know it a whole season has gone by and I have nothing really to show for it. I’ve been becoming more introverted lately and that includes online presence. Anyway this week was so beautiful– crisp low 60s in the morning and mid 70’s in the afternoon with clear skies. Our HVAC need a major repair (ugh) but thanks to this weather we have been putting it off until we can save the money. I hope to do another photo session for Halloween in the next week or two.