A Smile is Not Happiness.

Assume the worst when there is an absence of posts. Yes, I have been stuck in a maelstrom of shopping. Justified, and not. I need new spring clothing. But goodness, does any one person really need to spend so much time researching a pair of cropped pants?

I had a great thought this week, and wanted to write about it so that I don’t forget.

I keep saying (yes, out loud) that if I could just find the perfect-fitting trench for the spring, I’ll be happy. If I could just get that bright pink bag for the summer, I’ll be happy. If I could just find… Well, the list goes on and on, and it ends with me being happy.

A few days ago, I realized that was all wrong. What I’ve been meaning to say is, “If I could just find [item 1,567], it would make me smile.”

Oh, there it is! Finally I’ve put into words that all this stuff does not make me happy just because it puts a smile on my face. I’m having fun buying a new wardrobe out of necessity, and I’m finding some pretty great things. I look at my outfits each day and really feel great… for a moment or two. Everything that I’m adding to my wardrobe is the best item I think I can find, fits me and/or my lifestyle about as perfectly as I would hope, and makes me feel confident and put-together.


Happiness doesn’t even factor in.  I am quite broken, actually.  I must’ve sprung a leak some time ago because I have no substance left. I’ve become a clothing hanger.

(That was today’s epiphany.)

My stuff looks great on. It looked good on the hanger at Nordstrom, too. Is there anything more to ME? Do I have any interests left other than clothing? Does anything else motivate me? What am I living this life for?

My older son needs a supportive mom who can help him control his impulses, not someone who has no time for him because she needs to check the new arrivals at ten different online stores. He needs a mom who will listen to his current interests, not someone who shushes him away so she can check her wishlist to see if anything’s gone on sale so she can pounce on it. He needs a mom who will listen to his side of the story, not someone who immediately punishes the screaming and crying because it disrupted figuring out who has the latest 20% off sale.

My younger son needs a loving mom who can teach him to be strong, not someone who tells him to go cry alone until he can be quiet. He needs a nurturing mom to match his gentleness, not someone who takes advantage of his obedient nature by sending him away to play by himself. He needs a mom who can “fill up his hugs and kisses when they are red” (empty), not someone who constantly asks for more space so she can type faster and browse the web easier.

My husband needs a wife who can fill his life with love, laughter, and memories, not someone who heads to the stores every weekend.

I need to redevelop the spiritual depth that carried me all my life until recently. I seem to have squashed it with my credit card.

So, here I am. I looked at my (awesome) pants today, and acknowledged that they make me smile, but they do not make me whole. It’s OK that they make me smile. It’s OK that my new jacket makes me giddy when I get to wear it. As long as I know that that’s not IT. There’s more work to do, and it doesn’t involve TJ Maxx.

7 thoughts on “A Smile is Not Happiness.

  1. m.c. Karlin says:


    Popping over from the forum. This is such a moving post and an important reminder for me. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. Sending you strength.

  2. Debbie Roes says:

    Cristina, I’m always happy when I see a new post from you. Not many people are blogging about the dark side of shopping, so I like to have other voices besides mine in the mix. I really appreciate your honesty and this post was one of my favorites. In fact, it brought tears to my eyes.

    I hope that you will continue to write, both because you’re good at it and because the truth can set you free. Blogging has been instrumental to my recovery. I still have a long way to go, but I’m well on my way and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without blogging.

    I squashed a lot of my spiritual depth through shopping, too. It’s tough to get it back and I’m still working on it, slowly but surely. But it IS possible. I can tell that you’re a beautiful person through your writing. You CAN come back from the depths of despair that is compulsive shopping. Hang in there… I am pulling for you!

    • Cristina says:

      Thank you, Debbie! I also appreciate your blog and easily relate to it. Blogging has been a huge help. Writing things down helps me remember the path, good and bad.

  3. Forgive me for saying this, but in this post, you write mainly about what other people in your life need from -you-. What about what -you- need from -them-, especially from your husband? Something that was missing that sparked the shopping addiction in the first place…

    • Cristina says:

      That is probably a good thing to look into. Though I suspect my shopping addiction started in college when I got my first credit card, after a minimalist childhood where I wore hand-me-downs and was limited to 3 outfits total. I kind of went nuts shopping after that!

  4. Nikki says:

    Wow..this is such a moving post. I would like to echo what an earlier poster has asked: what do YOU want for yourself? How do you envision a fulfilled life? One of the things I’ve come to realize is that happiness (however you define it) may not emerge when you expect it to, or even if it does, may well be a fleeting, temporary moment in time. To me, you are clearly someone who has not only depth but also immense strength. You just need the time & space to reconnect with your spiritual self. All the best!

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