My blogging was spotty over the past few months because I’ve been working on things other than not shopping, though it’s all intertwined. I feel like I’ve finally gotten somewhere so I’d like to share.
The truth is that since my youngest was born three years ago, I was bored, unhappy, and trapped. A reluctant mom to kids who needed more than I wanted to give. A wife to an overtired book addict that just wanted to read during his free time. So, I did what any sane person would do: I stuck my head in the sand, tried to will all of my responsibilities away, and filled my time with something that made me fleetingly happy: shopping. But it also made me miserable. The guilt and shame increased right along with my credit card bills. I also started to live as though I was my own little cave, retreating from daily responsibilities. I ignored my house, and the dishes and laundry piled up high right next to the bills and shame.
Outwardly, I always appeared neat, but internally, I looked and felt like a hoarder. I sat still and did nothing all day just to keep from falling apart. I filled up my insides with unimportant things: thinking about the next shopping trip, finding the perfect [fill-in-the-blank], and endless wishlists. The thought of doing anything parental paralyzed me. I even stopped cooking, one of my former passions. I just wanted to stay in control as life swirled around me. But I was not in control. My kids controlled my every minute, the dishes glared at me with disdain, and the laundry formed menacing blockades all over my bedroom.
Shopping was the only thing that helped me feel any sort of control over my life. I could leave the house, leave the chores, leave mommyhood, and be free. Free to indulge in the one area I could control: my neat and tidy appearance. Free to dress up and feign an elegant lifestyle that was not mine. Free to dream about a time in the future where I would have my own life back without anyone expecting anything from me. If I had to get through the sludge, I wanted to shop my way through it. A least then I had moments of happiness, even if they were superficial.
When I first started this blog, I thought I just wanted to spend less money and not waste so much time on material possessions. But the more I delved into the problem areas of my life, the more I unraveled. I wasn’t in charge of motherhood. I wasn’t in charge of my house. I wasn’t in charge of my health. I wasn’t in charge of day-to-day life, at all.
I needed to shift everything if anything was going to change.
Shopping was the easiest to tackle because it’s tangible, though it was (and is) a struggle to avoid buying on a whim. I’m happy to say that I’ve done very well with limiting my shopping, and the UPS guy can attest to that because he rarely sees me anymore! (UPS and Fedex used to make multiple stops here during the week thanks to Amazon Prime.) However, I seem to have morphed shopping for me into shopping for other things, because our bills have not decreased. There’s more work to be done, and I want to do it. I want to see proof that I’ve changed!
Parenting… I didn’t even know where to start, so I sought outside help. I found out that I needed a Dog Whisperer approach: it wasn’t the kids that needed an attitude adjustment, it was me. I needed and wanted to stop wishing I could fast-forward through their childhood. I needed to stop punishing them for behaving like…kids. I was surprised that it was easier than I thought it would be. Changing my attitude made everyone happier. My kids are at an age that is so ridiculously precious and cute that there’s no way I want to miss this! I’ve completely come out of that fog and am having fun with them. I also found an online resource, Positive Parenting Solutions, which is chock full of insight and is helping me out of my rut of ineffective, on-the-fly discipline. My days are now planned out with activities for the kids, and oddly enough, I no longer feel like they’re controlling my every minute.
My health became a priority over the holidays, when I got tired of feeling like my organs were folding over onto each other all the time. (I was convinced that I wasn’t put back together correctly after my c-section.) But that had nothing to do with me wanting to eat enough at each meal so that I felt sick. I never got to the point of an actual eating disorder, but I was worried that I was headed that way. Then I read about someone who had just lost 100 pounds in a year and it just clicked for me. I’ve spent my life wanting to lose weight and have tried before, but I am dedicated to it now like never before. I can see it. It is a given, it will happen. I’ve lowered my calorie intake thanks to MyFitnessPal, and am using the iPad app 5K Runner (similar to Couch to 5K). I was even disappointed when the app announced “see you in a few days!” after the first few workouts; I didn’t realize it was only 3 workouts a week! I was ready to do it every day. I was? Me? The one who avoids going up and down the stairs and will even have my kids go get something for me? Who won’t go to certain stores or malls because I have to walk too far to get to my destination? Who won’t even walk to the end of my 1/4-mile driveway to get my son off the school bus? I still can’t believe it. In addition to adding kid-fun stuff into my daily schedule, I now add in treadmill time. And look forward to it!
Life is leaps and bounds better than it was just four months ago. I’ve experienced mental shifts in three major areas of my life. My inclination to shop, my temper flare-ups, and my waistline are all decreasing. I’m in charge now, and this new mindset is becoming second nature. And it all began with unshopping.