Monday, November 21, 2011

Shopping: My Drug of Choice

I'd rather be shopping at Nordstroms !

This statement used to frame my license plate.

When my daughter told me that she would go with me to Nordstroms so that I wouldn't spend so much money, I knew my secret was out !

Raised in a low income home, we had very few essentials; at times we had no hot water or electricity and I didn't even have a pair of shoes when I went to second grade. I felt ashamed and embarrassed !

I always vowed that one day I would have lots of fine things in my life.

I kept my promise to myself. As my first husband became a successful architect my dreams began to be realized.

The problem was that I couldn't say NO to anything I adored ! It didn't matter what it was, I just had to have it at that moment. I often hid purchases in the closet thinking that what my spouse didn't see he wouldn't notice.

When Imelda Marcos was exposed for her obsessive overindulgences, I personally owned over 150 pairs of shoes. I felt slightly embarrassed but still didn't acknowledge that I had a serious spending problem.

I ignored my behavior and so did my spouse; he had his own issues. We maintained an unspoken agreement to remain silent about our self-sabotaging behaviors.

Eventually, the truth was revealed; we were headed for bankruptcy. We blamed it on the economy. The truth is that if I had not spent so much we could have saved for a downturn in the economy.

I still continued my addictive behavior; I refused to acknowledge my destructive habit and kept spending.

When my spouse was offered a lucrative job in Moscow, Russia I soon had more money that I had ever imagined and I spent it on trips, clothes, and gifts. No matter how much he made I managed to spend to the max !

When my first marriage finally dissolved and I left the extravagant lifestyle, reality set in; I couldn't hide my addiction from myself any longer.

I'd like to say that I immediately changed and became frugal; unfortunately, it has taken several years for me to overcome my compulsive behavior.

When I get angry, bored, discouraged, anxious or even excited the first thing I want is a FIX !

My compulsive shopping is no different than using a drug to numb myself from facing uncomfortable situations in my life. I was running away from my own suffering. My childhood was fraught with abuse so I tried to comfort myself and to fill the emptiness. It seemed easier to avoid the source of my pain than to face it. My first instinct was to run !

Over time I began facing my discomfort and noticed that my urge to shop or run away lessened.

Now I hold myself accountable and so does my spouse. Whenever I want to purchase something, I discuss it with him to decide whether or not it is a necessary expenditure.

I rarely shop alone; when I do, I create a list and a price range and stay within a budget. I have started a savings account and am learning to plan for future goals and dreams.

With Christmas arriving, I already feel the excitement of shopping.

Yesterday I went to a mall and purchased items on my list for my grandchildren, keeping within my reasonable limits. As I was leaving I walked through a new store on my way out and noticed lots of things that I would love to wear. The adrenaline began pumping through my entire body. I felt intoxicated, and wanted to spend, spend, spend ! I recognized the self-sabortaging sign and immediately left the store. Calling my daughter in the parking lot, I confessed that I felt like an alcoholic at a bar and had to remove myself from temptation.

When I got home I shared the entire experience with my spouse. He told me how proud he was that I had stayed on my projected course and even spent less than I had originally planned, buying only sale items.

I am encouraged that I am learning to overcome my self-destructive pattern. I know that I am still vulnerable and need to be aware of my feelings so that I don't fall into the same trap again.

I now surrender my uncomfortable moments to God and humbly asking that He fill the empitness with more of Himself.

Shopping till I drop is no longer my slogan !

1 comment:

  1. wow thats crazy. Sorry you have to deal with that. That has to be hard. I know how you feel at times. Before i started getting closer to God what i used to do is smoke cigarettes to help relieve stress and at times i feel like i going to have cravings for it but then i thank God for opening my eyes to when i was in that sin and asked for forgiveness and to take away that urge. I thank God i stopped. When i stopped smoking i would still feel depressed and overwhelmed because of what happened to me. Before now i really didn't have anyone to talk to much besides friends from church. I was afraid no one would understand what i had been through. But i know i wasn't alone. It wasn't til this year that i started to speak out about my abuse. So i can say that i understand how you can get urges to do those things that you dont want to do. God bless you.