I’ve composed this post a million times in my head over the past couple of months. At first, it was “on vacation! too busy to post!” then it was “empty closet, nothing fits! how much should I buy?” then “help! I can’t stop shopping!” Now…it’s just guilt and shame.
My last post was in July, in the midst of several summer vacations. I thought I had a handle on shopping because my focus was elsewhere; I was working out regularly and planning fun trips. Then in August it became clear that the workout program I was following was working and I was losing inches…fast. Suddenly my entire wardrobe was uncomfortably baggy. There was not a single thing in my closet that fit well. I gave myself permission to start replacing some of my favorite items, and initially thought I’d limit it to a pair or two of jeans and a few tops. I even warned my husband about this mini shopping spree and had his support. Success! I kept my purchases to a minimum that day and thought I had a good start to a new fall wardrobe. I thought I’d be satisfied until October, when I might need to add some warmer clothes.
No. I was not satisfied. A few days later, an old familiar feeling arrived. I was consumed with the idea of a secret shopping trip, getting out alone for just an hour, and shopping my heart out. I really struggled with this plan, because I knew it would take me right back to where I started. I KNEW it. I felt it and it made me sick. I decided not to go.
And then the crippling blackness filled my mind and I went anyway. I remember that very second and I replay it constantly. I opened that door, I invited this addiction back into my life.
I had a ‘successful’ shopping trip that ugly day. I had a very limited and specific list and found exactly what I was looking for and nothing else. It felt good! Until I got to the house and wanted to hide my shame…my purchases…from my husband. I took everything out of my unmarked reusable shopping bags, scattered the new items under various piles in the bedroom, and eventually washed and put everything away without anyone noticing.
I had opened the floodgates. I could not handle the sanctioned shopping. I needed a new wardrobe and I spun out of control until last week.
It was not all downhill. Every single time I bought anything, it was something from my very specific list. I’ve limited the number of items and avoided anything that comes close to being a duplicate. I’ve limited the budget and have not overbought. My closet is still smaller than it was a year ago. I am VERY strict with shopping now; if I have any inkling of doubt, it stays in the store. If I even think about the store’s return policy, I don’t buy the item. If I already have a pair of bootcut jeans, I don’t buy another pair even if it’s a little different.
It’s all I think about. I window shop online for hours at a time, making wishlists. I tell myself that I’m doing research so that I don’t overbuy like my old self did. But my problem is not the actual spending or acquisition of items. It is that I am letting this ugly blackness into my mind. This ‘thing’ that takes me away from my kids. From my husband. From anything significant and meaningful. My temper has flared over the past couple of months. Impatience rules me. I’ve been feeling resentful about being trapped and stuck, saddled with children when I really just want to ditch them and go to the mall.
Every night before bed, I pondered all those feelings and my negative behaviors that have so recently resurfaced. I didn’t want them, but I knew I invited them in and was sorry for it. I would tell myself I’d do better tomorrow, and then fall asleep thinking about what I would add to my clothing wishlist in the morning. Ridiculous.
Last week I received some very distressing news about someone I care about and look up to. It was news of a financial nature, and I knew instantly that this person had a demon similar to mine. Only his was much bigger and has had a catastrophic effect on his life and the lives of those around him. In an instant, I knew that I could be in a similar position someday. Right now, my problem is small. But at some point, his problem was small, too. It wasn’t too much of a leap for me to see myself in serious trouble down the road…all over shopping.
I slammed that door closed right then and there. It was the same exact door I’d opened in August. I knew it, and I said it out loud. I CLOSE THIS DOOR. No more.
It is not so simple, though. Every day, my resolve weakens. I’ve already been back to online shopping lists. But I know that this is something that will be with me forever. I have to fight this every day, maybe even every minute of every day. Today, day 10 of closing that door, I feel stronger than yesterday. But who knows how I will feel tomorrow. I just know I’m done with that feeling of blackness taking over me. I’m done with the guilt and shame, and the worry that my husband will find out. And I’m writing it for all to see. I’m DONE.
God knows your sin, but calls you by your name.
The devil knows your name, but calls you by your sin.
I am Cristina and I will not fall.