Monday, April 11, 2005

Speaking of addictions...

I have recently had to come to terms with the fact that I am addicted to shopping. On the surface, this may seem like a joke, and I have certainly had a few laughs over it myself, but I have had to come to the realization that it is not something to laugh about.

It has become much worse over the last few months, in part because my coworker/friend is a bit of an addict herself, and we junkies tend to justify each other's checkbook abuse. I have fallen victim to the HORRIBLE rationalization that, if I'm going to write a check that I know is going to put me in overdraft, I need to make it worth it...For example, if I want to buy an item that is $10, but I know there is not $10 in my account, I have to write the check to AT LEAST equal the fee the bank is going to charge me for the overdraft, to make the overdraft fee worth it.

Over the last few months, I have paid literally hundreds of dollars in fees, and now I am in the process of trying to dig myself out of the hole I've put myself in. If all goes well, I should be standing on solid ground within the next month. I've really had to take a good look at what I've spent versus what I have to show for my spending, and I've had to come to terms with some very disturbing realities...I'm an addict. The rush I get from shopping is likely very similar to the rush a person gets from doing a drug or having a drink. For a little while, I feel like I'm on top of the world, but then I start to come down from the high, I start to see the fees piling up, I start feeling depressed...and I have to go shopping again to get the high back.


However, God is doing some financial pruning in my life. I think my current situation of absolute financial obliteration was necessary in order to show me how serious the problem had become. It wasn't as though I was going into overdraft to pay necessary bills, or put gas in the car so I could get to work (with gas prices being as they are, you almost need to take out a small loan in order to fill the tank). No, I was willingly and knowingly going into overdraft so I could have just one more pair of shoes and cute capris to wear with them. I've even got shoes in my closet that do not match anything I have, and I will likely never wear them, but they were so cute, I just had to have them. And now, hundreds of dollars in shoes, clothing, and accessories later, I have absolutely no money to speak of and I do not know how I will make it through the next couple of weeks. I have no savings, nothing available on my credit cards...nothing. But, it is a necessary suffering. A severe mercy, really. As I posted a few days ago, if I am ever going to get to a place in my life where I can afford to move out and make it on my own, I MUST stop spending money. I needed a wake up call, and here it is.

I am happy to report that my friend/coworker is also in recovery. She and I have both gotten into the habit of leaving our checkbooks at home, and we have now successfully made two trips to the mall and walked out without buying anything. That is quite an accomplishment for people like us. Each of us spotted a couple of things we wanted, and said that we might come back and get them after payday, if we still want them by then. But we're not in the habit of justifying going into a financial nosedive just to have the cutest skirt in the window at any given store.

I have had to wonder why I do shop like I do. I've always liked to shop, but never so much as I have in the last six months. I think it is in part because I have gone through so many changes, and I am now able to wear things that I couldn't even think of wearing a year ago. It's as if I'm trying to make up for all the years that I was not able to fit into the "cool" clothes I saw in stores. I also think that there is a very large psychological element at work here. I have gone through a lot of changes in that regard as well, and I am trying to situate myself between the old me and the new me, and shopping has become a sort of distraction that keeps me from dealing with the uncertainties I feel as these changes progress. I do not have the option of using food as a coping tool anymore, so rather than dealing with things, I've just moved on to shopping as my addiction of choice.

They try to warn you about all the psychological stuff you'll deal with after surgery, but you just can't really know how serious it is until you're living it. It is a very strange and difficult thing to stop thinking of yourself as the ugly fat girl that nobody wants to be around, someone who is very easily dismissed and overlooked for no reason other than the physical appearance. That is what I am accustomed to, and it has been quite a transition to go from that to being someone that people actually acknowledge in a non-patronizing or condescending way. (I could, and eventually will, write about the differences between my experiences pre- and post- surgery.)

Anyway, as with all addictions, there are underlying causes that go far beyond the addictions themselves.

As I write this, I am also remembering that God tells us we are to clothe ourselves in righteousness. That is one size fits all. It is always fashionable, always in season, and never goes out of style. If I invested even half the energy into my walk with Christ as I've invested in shopping and worrying about how to cover the deficits I've oh my, how different things would be.


save your money and ask god what to do with it.
Read Proverbs good money advice in that book. PTL you have recognized and are dealing weith the situation. That is strength and it is from God. Thank Him for that.

Thanks for your vulnerability and honesty, That Girl. I don't have problem with shopping, but there are other things in my life that easily become obsessive. It's a battle to keep perspective and focus on Jesus; not because I don't love him, but because the tangible is more easily engaged. I think the fact that you've taken time to write about your concern over this indicates you are investing time in your relationship with Him.
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