It’s said that all of us are addicted to at least 12 things at any given time. It’s also said that when we give up one addiction we generally replace it with another. I’m not sure what I’ve replaced it with, but I know I’ve given one up. It goes a little something like this.
am was addicted to shopping.
I hear that’s the first step. Admitting the problem, that is. Seeing it. Recognizing you have one. Owning it. Of course, it’s much nicer to make excuses. To not admit it (even to yourself).
It happened last summer. 6 months ago now. I had been away, nestled in the woods, for 5 weeks with my boys. When one is camping something tends to happen to your wardrobe. You wear the same thing every.single.day. It already smells of campfire, so why dirty another sweater, y’know?
I spent my mornings running the tree lined paths. (work-out wear. check.) Much of our days lounging beside the pool. (bathing suit, cover-up dress, hat. check) We spent our nights huddled around campfires with friends roasting marshmellows and reading books and telling tales. (yoga pants, flannel, sweater. check.)
After those glorious 5 weeks we returned home. Home. Where each of us had our own room. Home. Where we could all be in the kitchen without bumping into each other. Home. Where we could do laundry every day. Home. Where I had a closet bursting at the seams.
I walked into our closet on my first day home and I looked at how tightly everything hung together. Row upon row of short sleeved, button ups, long sleeved, hoodies, dresses, skirts, jeans, cords, tights, and how my sweaters had spilled over onto the mister’s side cause I had plum run out of room.
Hear me when I say I don’t own overly expensive clothing. Much of it is thrifted or bought at consignment stores but that wasn’t the point. It wasn’t the cost of these things that mattered. It was the excess. When on earth did I plan on making use of all of this clothing?
It saddened me. It kind of disgusted me. A verse popped into my head about having two tunics. Two? I had 16.
How did I get here? I wondered aloud.
I know how. At least I think I do. See, shopping is fun! Perusing aisle after aisle of pretty. Checking out window after window of arty displays with fun combinations of clothing that I would never come up with on my own. I loved that stuff.
But there was more. I’m an artist at the very core of my soul. I harbour this passion for creativity and expression and even my clothes reflected this. I’ve always considered that one should never really just get dressed. One should play dress up. Mixing and matching and adding and subtracting accessories until you reach your perfect artistic design on the canvas that is your very body.
Plus there’s the very tactile nature of it all. Feeling the fabrics and hearing the swish of a good trench, the crispness of a new collar, the cozy of just the right sweater and that elusive hunt for the very perfect pair of jeans.
There’s more. There’s also the thrill of the hunt. Like (I imagine, anyways) a huntsmen stalking his prey and waiting for just the right moment. I would scour and dig for that perfect piece at the perfect price and then BAM! It would be mine. There’s satisfaction in that. Finding a burberry in a thrift store or some citizen jeans on the sale rack in just your size. It feels good. Well, if you’ve made shopping your life’s mission and acquiring your drug.
I realized this that day, standing there in my closet. I realized that I had made shopping a past time instead of a necessity. I had grown my closet to ridiculous proportions. Surely there are people that could use some of these more than I could.
I prayed right there, aloud in my closet that day. I asked God to help me. To change me. To turn this compulsion that I had to shop into energy better spent elsewhere. Money better spent elsewhere. Satisfaction found in something greater than the (very temporary) high of a new dress.
I shopped my last in August and I made a pledge to myself. One school year buying nothing for myself. Nothing. There was nothing I could possibly need so surely 10 months could go buy without me purchasing something. I’m a high challenge person and I knew I couldn’t just ‘kinda stop’ shopping. I needed a goal. So I made one.
Two months in my very favourite black boots broke. The zipper was shot and would cost more to replace than they were worth. I’d had them for many years and I got them at a consignment store so they were already well worn when they were new to me. I’ll just get new boots, I told myself. And I did. With no guilt because, you see, I made the rules, I can break the rules.
Months went by and I kept praying that God would continue to change my heart. To open my eyes to the world around me in a new way. A way that wasn’t about having and getting but about helping and sharing.
In November, 3 months in with only one item purchased, my husband and I started talking about it. He asked me what the point was. What the point was? Well, to try and go a full school year without shopping! Duh!
He persisted. But…..why? So that in a year everything you have will be worn out and while you’ll have saved a bunch of money in that year at the end of it you’ll just go have a big shopping spree? What’s the point of that?
Do you have a husband that challenges you? If you do, be so thankful. Even when you may want to punch him. I love that he questions me and pushes me to be a better thinker, a better doer and basically a better me than I could be all on my own. All because he doesn’t hold back. He asks the hard stuff even when I don’t want the hard stuff to be asked.
I thought on what he had said for a good long time.
But I’m going to pause here and ask my question. It is, after all, topic tuesday. So my question today is this: Do you shop too much? Do you get a little high off of ‘new’? It might not be clothes for you but technology or home decor or shoes or cars or vacations? Do you find yourself spending a lot of your time on it? Money on it? Acquiring to excess and not just need? Or is it just me…