On Relapse, Reasons, and Recommitting

Recovery from any addiction or compulsion seldom occurs in a linear fashion.  While there are those rare few who simply decide to change and find it smooth sailing from there on forth, the majority of us experience both hills and valleys.  Sometimes we take three steps forward and one step back, and other times it feels like we’re moving backwards instead of progressing.

As a new month has begun, it’s time for me to post my next accountability update.  While I usually experience a few butterflies in my stomach when typing up my monthly reports, this time I feel a sense of downright dread.  I have to admit to both my readers and myself that I have hit a bump in the road.   After a number of months of fairly steady recovery – with some minor setbacks along the way – I’ve plunged back into some old and unproductive behaviors.

Shopaholic relapse

Have you ever experienced a relapse in your shopaholic behavior?

In today’s post, I share the details of my recent relapse and highlight some of the reasons for this backslide.   I also recommit to continuing my recovering shopaholic journey and highlight some of my plans for the remainder of 2014.  I know I’m not alone in struggling to overcome a compulsive shopping problem, and I’m sure many of you will be able to relate to my difficulties.

It is my hope that this post will be inspiring for you instead of depressing.  I also hope that those who have believed in me and cheered me on will continue to do so despite my failings.  Even as I typed the previous sentence, I know that will be the case, as most of us are far harder on ourselves than anyone else can be.

So, What Happened?

While I will highlight the details of what I bought and how much I spent in my upcoming accountability post (to go live within the next week), I’ll tell you now that those details aren’t really all that heinous.  Yes, I overspent my budget and pretty much blew my item limit, but what’s far worse is how I lost my way emotionally.  Instead of doing the things I knew I needed to do for myself and my life, I wasted countless hours on shopping, returning, and browsing e-commerce sites.

In some ways, I felt more like the Debbie of 2012 and previous years than the stronger and wiser woman who writes this blog.  There were some marked differences, however.  I frequently exercised the “power pause” and most of what I purchased was on my shopping priorities list.   I didn’t completely lose myself in the experience of shopping like I used to.  To a large extent, that spell has been broken, yet in the absence of more constructive replacement activities, shopping took center stage once again.

I don’t even want to contemplate how much time I spent on shopping-related activities over the past month, nor do I really wish to consider the countless other things I could have done instead.  I have a list of personal and professional projects I want to tackle that’s as long as my arm, but I opted to spend my time ensconced in shopping rather than doing things that would make me feel proud of myself.  As a result, I am hanging my head in shame today as opposed to striding confidently with my head held high.

Enumerating the Reasons for Relapse

After I emerged from my shopping-induced coma of sorts, it didn’t take me long to understand why I had veered off the beaten path.  While there are some very plausible reasons as to why I faltered, before I go into them I’d like to make one thing abundantly clear.  I take full responsibility for my actions.  No one held a gun to my head and forced me to shop.  I chose to do it and I don’t blame anyone else for my actions but myself.

Not only is it healthier for us to accept responsibility for the choices we make and the actions we take, it also empowers us.  After all, if we can choose to do the wrong thing, we can also choose to do the right thing.  I believe it can be constructive for us to understand the precipitating factors that motivated our behavior, as that can help us to take precautions in the future.  However, I feel isn’t healthy to dwell on such explanations for too long.  I’m sharing my reasons for relapse in today’s post, but I will quickly move on to recommitting and outlining the next steps for my journey.

In no particular order of importance, here are the primary reasons for my recent relapse:

Health Challenges

I’ve alluded to my less than stellar health on the blog in the past, but I experienced some additional challenges during July, including a severe tooth infection that necessitated multiple antibiotics and a number of dental visits.  My face swelled up to a degree that put a large damper on celebrating my wedding anniversary on July 4th and had me looking far from my best for quite a while.   The cost of this treatment also led to some serious stress, as I do not have dental insurance and have already spent quite a bit of money on my teeth this year.   A more perfect person wouldn’t have turned to shopping in the wake of financial challenges, but unfortunately I am not such a paragon of virtue.

I also continue to experience other health issues that have defied multiple efforts towards improvement.  It’s been intensely frustrating to keep trying new treatment modalities, only to struggle with the same troubling symptoms over and over again.  Of course, I’m not going to give up, but the aggravation of continually bumping up against walls has led me to seek solace in what was once a successful escapist activity for me.

The “Real Simple” Article

I knew the article about me would be published in the August issue of “Real Simple,” which would hit the newsstands by mid-July.  While I was honored to share my story on such a wide platform, I was also nervous about what the reaction to the piece would be.  I worried about people in my life reading all of the sordid details of my shopping behavior.  I wondered if there would be any backlash I’d have to deal with.

I also wondered what the response to the article would be overall.  Would it be a blip on the radar screen or tantamount to an earthquake registering high on the Richter scale?  What’s more, I wasn’t really sure which result I wanted.  A close friend encouraged me to capitalize on the publicity and start offering consulting services, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that or even wanted to pursue such an avenue.  But another part of me was afraid of missing out (that FOMO thing again!) on an opportunity that might never come around again.

I tried to push myself to not only publish my first e-book before the article came out, but my second one as well.  I am unable to work at a computer for long periods of time without pain (I have neck, back, and arm issues), but I pushed myself beyond my comfort level trying to get it all done.  In the end, I had to accept that it wasn’t feasible for me to publish the second book in time for the article’s release, but I felt a bit like a failure for not reaching my goal.

Feeling Unattractive and “Not Good Enough”

Back in June, I published a post called “What I Wore in May 2014 and My Style Reflections.”   I received a lot of “constructive criticism” on the outfits I posted, including the ones I identified as favorite ensembles that I felt good wearing.  I also had several readers tell me my hair color was unflattering on my skin tone.  I handled the comments graciously, and many of them had good merits, but I ended up feeling quite deflated when it was all said and done.

I’m not sharing this to make anyone feel bad for what they wrote.  As I mentioned above, many of the comments were accurate, but they brought up old wounds for me of feeling not good enough.  While I encounter these types of feelings in many areas of life, they are at their strongest related to the way I look.  In fact, I’m quite certain my “I’m not good enough” feelings were one of the primary motivators of my overshopping behavior, as well as the eating disorders I suffered from for many years.

Following the post and after I looked at photos of myself from previous years, I decided to change my hair color and go back to more of a brunette tone rather than the increasing red hue I’ve sported more recently.  Sadly, the result I received (from a professional, not at home) was not good.  My hair ended up being too dark, especially around my face, and I hated it.  I’m also trying to grow out some of the layers in my hair, so I agreed to have my hair trimmed to even out the ends.  This “trim” ended up being more than I expected, leaving my hair at a shorter length than I was comfortable with.

So I felt like my clothes were all wrong and my hair was all wrong.  Fortunately, my hair color has faded and I’ve gotten it fixed at least to a certain extent (it’s a work in progress), but I continued to feel up in arms about my wardrobe.  That feeling, coupled with the two reasons outlined above, set off my July compulsive shopping relapse.  I got many of my skirts shortened (many commenters said they were too long) and started feverishly shopping for clothing that would somehow render me more acceptable to both myself and others.   This is, of course, a slippery slope and it was difficult for me to stop at buying just a few items.

Clothes are Just Inanimate Objects

So, there you have it, the main reasons for my recent shopping relapse.  It’s worth reiterating that I didn’t share my reasons as a means of excusing my behavior.  I own what I did and I take responsibility for it.  I’m not proud of it, but I can’t turn back the clock and change the course of events.  I need to accept what happened, forgive myself, and move on.

It took me a while to remember that clothes will never make me feel good about myself.  They are merely inanimate objects and thus cannot soothe my fears, increase my sense of self-worth, or make me feel happy about my life.  Those things have to come from within.   They cannot be bought at the mall, inside a boutique, or through visiting an e-commerce store.

I ended up returning a number of the items I purchased, particularly those I ordered online during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.   As we all know, online shopping is a risk and I never intended to keep everything I ordered anyway.  As one commenter mentioned, it’s basically a way for us to try things on in the comfort of our own homes.  However, such online buying can be problematic, as many shoppers don’t get around to returning the pieces that don’t work out for them.  Fortunately, I did return many substandard pieces and recouped the money spent, although the time those returns required was definitely non-trivial.

Goals, Rules, and Paradoxes

I may still return additional items that I bought during July, but as I mentioned previously, a lot of what I purchased was on my shopping priorities list.  Because it’s so difficult to find certain items, I hesitate to return everything, especially those things I love and which suit my lifestyle needs.

I eventually want to reach the place where I have a yearly budget rather than monthly targets and don’t need item limits to push me to shop wisely and buy higher quality pieces.  But I’m not quite there yet… At this point, I need to get back on track and ensure that I finish 2014 in a much better place than when it began.  I’d also like to meet at least some (if not most!) of the shopping and wardrobe goals I set for myself back in January.

In truth, I probably set too many goals (that’s kind of a pattern of mine…) and some of them are at odds with each other.  For instance, I limited the number of items I can buy, but I also committed to donating or consigning all closet pieces that aren’t at least “8”s on a scale of 1-10.  I’d like to release some less than stellar garments and shoes, but I started bumping up against the barrier of my item limit as a result of ill-advised purchases earlier in the year.  If I purge staple items that I don’t love, I likely wouldn’t be able to buy replacements until next year, so I continue to hold on to them.

While I don’t wish to give myself carte blanche to buy as many pieces as I want, I also feel somewhat stymied by the item limit.  What I’ll likely do is retain my budget but bump the item limit up a bit so it feels more doable for me.  I think part of my overshopping during July was in reaction to thinking, “I’ll never make the item limit anyway, so why even try?”  I definitely don’t want to purchase as much as I bought last year (76 items), but perhaps aiming to cut that number in half was biting off more than I could chew this early in the game.

Forgiving Myself and Moving On

My primary goals are to shop less, buy better, and cultivate a resonant personal style and a workable wardrobe.  Despite my recent setback, I feel I’ve still made significant progress on all of those fronts this year and intend to continue making improvements.  So it’s time to forgive myself for my failings in July and move forward with a positive attitude and a recommitment to “progress not perfection” for the remainder of 2014.   I will delve more into specifics in future posts, but for now forgiveness and positivity are first and foremost.

I realize that I may have disappointed some of you and I apologize for that.  I also disappointed myself, but I am only human and as such am prone toward making mistakes.  I could have glossed over all of this on the blog, but I remain committed to sharing the truth of my journey, warts and all.  I am very happy to have inspired some of you and I hope to continue to do so.

If nothing else, mine is a tale of falling down and then picking myself up and moving forward once again.   That’s what we all need to do, as we all have our failings and will regularly let ourselves and others down. But we also have our successes, which can help to motivate ourselves and others to forge ahead and stay the course.

Both our ups and our downs are important parts of the journey for all of us.  My journey continues and I have faith that one day, I’ll truly be able to put my struggles with overshopping behind me – for good.  I have faith in that for myself and for all of you.  That’s why I continue to write this blog and why I continue to fight the good fight for myself and all recovering shopaholics.

Please Share Your Thoughts and Stories

Now it’s your turn.  Have you experienced any setbacks or relapses along the way to becoming a more conscious and moderate shopper?  If so, what have been the reasons behind those difficult times?  And what did you do to get yourself back on track again?

This is a safe place for all of us to share our thoughts and feelings, so I invite you to chime in on this important topic.  Your input will likely help more people than you know, as many people will never comment but appreciate what all of us share.  Let’s do what we can to pay it forward and help other shopaholics who are struggling along the way.  Many thanks!

Before You Go…  A Quick Announcement

I have frequently shared some of the excellent posts from “Into Mind,” and I’m sure many of you also subscribe to that wonderful blog about minimalist personal style.  Just today, Anuschka (the blog’s author) has released her first product, a workbook titled “Personal Style & the Perfect Wardrobe.”

This interactive workbook includes 17 worksheets that each tackle one specific component of the personal style and wardrobe management process, from style concept to shopping strategy. The workbook is available for the price 16 Euros (approx. $21 US)  – which is a 20% discount – until 9:00 am Eastern Time tomorrow.  I purchased my copy and look forward to digging in (and will likely write about the process on the blog)Click here to learn more about the workbook and get your copy (NOTE:  I am not an affiliate of this product, just a fan).

114 thoughts on “On Relapse, Reasons, and Recommitting

  1. Debbie, I am going through a lot of the same things right now as well. It’s so funny how I see so much of my life in your blog. You have my support, for one!
    I can definitely relate to the fact that stress causes me to shop more. For sure feeling bad about yourself saps your limited stores of discipline. My health has been getting worse (suspect thyroid, or more autoimmune problems) but can’t get into a doctor for 2 months! And it’s such a convenient distraction from the problems we can’t solve *right now*. I find myself making excuses for why I should buy this item right now– it’s on my list, it’s on sale, I’ll swap it with another planned purchase to keep everything spread out in time…. Maybe I’ll feel better about my body in this garment. We tell ourselves that at least we can have control over this one thing, but are we really in control?

    • Thanks for your support, Sarah! I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through health issues and have to wait so long to see the doctor. I think your point about control is a good one. I know my health often feels so out of control that I want to be able to control SOMETHING, and that can lead me to overshop. But control with shopping is not easy, at least for those of us with shopaholic tendencies. It often seem to be all or nothing! I hope you will find some relief from your health issues soon. I have low thyroid, I learned this year. It’s amazing how many symptoms that can lead to!

      • That’s too bad about your thyroid. I do hope your mood will lift as your treatment gets to the right level though! I hear that tweaking meds can take some time, but it’s very worthwhile. I know I’ve been finding myself more emotional lately, and I’m hoping it’s related to this and treatable. And I’ve definitely been taking it out on my shopping habits. Something about weight gain making you hate all your clothes….

      • Thanks, Sarah. I wish the same for you! You’re so right about weight gain and hating our clothes. I wrote a post about that way back when: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/weight-body-image-and-shopping/ I seem to be having a lot of on and off bloating due to the thyroid issues. It’s really frustrating and makes getting dressed increasingly difficult. I feel like I need two sizes of clothes in my closet! Instead, I’m trying to get some stretchier pieces that will fit and feel good during my more bloated times. Not fun at all to be going through these issues!

  2. You’re very hard on yourself, Debbie. I found your blog recently and it has really helped me start to make changes in my habits. I just started keeping journal of what I wear and how it makes me feel and I am finding it a great tool to help me pause. Maybe stop allowing comments on posts if they trigger bad feelings for you, but truly appreciate your candor and willingness to take the risk because it helps me and I’m sure other readers too. A journey is never a straight line.

    • Yes, I’m hard on myself and it actually used to be a lot worse! I have more compassion for myself these days. I’m glad your finding the outfit journal helpful, Justine. It’s been a great help to me and I will write about that again soon. Thanks for your support and kind words.

  3. I also had a relapse this past month but mine was far worse . The lure of my favorite website final clearance sale sucked me in yet again. Sadly not many items can be returned as they were final sale , sooo I have decided to sell my less than stellar items on eBay in hopes to recoupe some of the costs. Kicking myself !!

    • Sorry to hear that you also had a relapse, Bella. Try not to be too hard on yourself and instead try to learn from the experience so you can be better equipped to face such sales in the future. I think it’s great that you’re being proactive in selling some of the items on eBay. I hope that goes well for you.

  4. I feel like I could write a novel in response to your post. First off, please don’t be so hard on yourself. Extend a little grace to yourself and know you are SO worthwhile and very much good enough.

    My heart aches a little reading your post about self esteem and your unfortunate time with your hair stylist. Our looks and esteem have so much to do with our life overall and certainly play into our compulsive shopping behavior. I’ve been there myself (and I’m still very much in the “valley” when it comes to shopping). I had a similar experience with hair as you did. Two years back I decided to change my copper red hair (which I had been dying successfully at home for over 10 years) back to my natural dark brown color. I went to a professional, but the results were so intense and shocking to me that I went into a bit of depression about it. Finally, I got more accustomed to the color (had to buy all new makeup, and my color pallet for clothing was totally different too), and as my natural color grew in, I began to feel good again. Now, I love my dark hair and I’m in a good spot with it. My point is that hair is very much tied to our self esteem as women and when something goes wrong (even just a perceived wrong) it can really wreck us emotionally

    …and we all know how well compulsive shoppers fair when our emotional state is tanked. Sigh.

    Anyway, give yourself a break, find and acclimate to the new you, and you’ll be feeling better about it soon :-).

    As for the health issues, I hope you decide to share them with us one day. I suffer from autoimmune diseases – scleroderma, Raynaud’s, and Celiacs. Sometimes I think my mental state about them fuels my shopping… It’s tough to deal with harsh realities of health sometimes. I sure don’t have the answer (my shopping is still bad), but I just want you to know you’re not alone.

    Thank you for your honesty and for the connection we have with you through this blog. 🙂

    • Oh yes I can also relate to the hair thing! You should really go back to the stylist and ask her to lighten it up a bit. You paid for it and they didn’t meet your expectations! Also, I find with certain hair types the color will lighten up a few shades after a few shampoos, so I hope that happens for you! You could also try blending some hair bleach with your shampoo (pretty dilute), as stylists have been known to do that to just lift a little bit of the color. Anyway, I do hope your upcoming month is better!

    • Sorry to hear you went through a hair trauma, too, Chelsea, but I’m glad things are better now. My hair is better now, too. It faded a bit (I washed the front part a bunch of extra times to get it to fade) and I’ve had it colored again since the bad experience. I have to color my hair every 4 weeks because it’s about 75% grey at this point. I’m liking the brown better and it feels more like me. It’s not exactly the color I want just yet, but it’s moving in that direction. It still has some auburn highlights, but it’s not bright red. I have a lot of issues about my hair in general, but this last experience pushed me over the top.

      As for the health issues, they’re not exactly secret, but I didn’t want to dwell on them too much on the blog, especially since some are unexplained and without official diagnoses. My worst problems are severe migraines (have had them for 30 years, but they have worsened as of late), migraine vertigo (started about 5 years ago but very bad last summer), multiple digestive issues (likely from my years of eating disorders), and the neck, back, and arm issues I mentioned in the post. It’s demoralizing to have a lot of health issues, as I’m sure you know given what you shared (thanks for being open). I definitely feel that my health issues and my frustration about them are main drivers of my overshopping. I shop to lift myself up or to celebrate when things have improved. I need to come up with more ways to soothe myself because shopping creates too many other problems!

      • I totally agree with what you said about finding other things that soothe us or make us feel better… It’s just hard because shopping does! (And then it doesn’t, right?). Sigh. I guess this is all part of the journey!

        Thank you for always taking the time to write back and to share your life with us. It’s nice to have someone who understands 🙂

      • I feel the same way, Chelsea. Before I started writing this blog and connected with all of you, I felt very alone in my shopping problem. It was always such a secret that I kept to myself and felt ashamed of. I’m happy to now know a number of other women who can relate to my struggle and are cheering me on. I’m happy we can do that for each other!

  5. Debbie – I just got back from a conference where one of the speakers talked about her new book, “Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8.” This funny title really sums up how each of us struggle to achieve our goals. But think of the courage it takes to get up! And that is what you are doing. You may have fallen but you are upright once again.

    I know that I commented back in January that your item limit goal seemed awfully ambitious. Cutting the number in half was a big step to take. Perhaps 25% would have been more realistic but you really had no idea of the right number until you tried 50%. Now you have learned something. Yeah!

    I, too, have had a month of bad hair – too short. It has really made me feel conspicuous and caused me to be extra critical of my outfits. I am trying to just observe my feelings and move on. The Clothing Journal has helped me be more objective and less emotional. I can write that I feel frumpy but then I have to figure out why. It is often just one little thing that needs tweaked.

    So I applaud you for continuing on and for getting up when you fall!

    • Love that book title, Anne. Maybe I’ll have to read that one… I think you were right about my overly ambitious item limit for the year. Things always seem less daunting and more doable when they are far out into the future. I started out last year trying to buy just one item of clothing and one accessory per month. I had good intentions, of course, but it was too big of a leap. It only lasted for 3 months and I didn’t set alternate goals after I blew that one. I kept to the budget but continued to buy too many things. I think I could have kept to the lower item limit much more easily if I didn’t continue to make so many shopping mistakes. I’m learning, though, so I think I will buy less and less as the years progress.

      Sorry to hear you had a month of bad hair, too! I wrote in my outfit journal that my hair was the weakest link multiple times, so I can relate there. But I agree that the journal has helped me to be more objective and better understand the problem. I may not know exactly how to create a scenario in which I will love my hair, but I do know that buying more clothes won’t do the trick or necessarily make me love some of my outfits more.

  6. Thank you for your honesty! I don’t know what it is about this time of year? The months that we should not really need to shop (especially here in California), we are out shopping. It’s like the emotional pull to back to school shop is too strong. I also spent way too much money this month. It sounds like you had real challenges to your self-image this month too so that makes a big difference. I hope that you are feeling better. I don’t know what it is about the internet and people giving unsolicited opinions. Wear what you want to wear and how you want to wear it. There are only a few people in the world I would ever take fashion and hair advice from and none of them are internet strangers.

    This is one of my all-time favorite quotes from a woman who is too pale, wears too much makeup and wears her skirts too long. Just kidding – but those are criticisms she gets a lot. I think she is lovely.

    “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
    ― Dita Von Teese

    • I love the Dita Von Teese quote, Leah, as well as what you wrote. I am trying to tune in more to my inner muse and find my true style. Posting outfit photos and getting feedback (which I didn’t even really ask for) took me away from that process, but I do really want to wear what I want and how I want to wear it. I used to do that a lot more back in my 20s and 30s, but in my 40s I tried too hard to be stylish in the conventional sense and always felt like I didn’t measure up. If I find my own style and embrace it, I won’t have that battle.

      It is strange that we shop so much in the summer here in California. If I look back at my account records, July through September were usually the months when I spent the most. I think it’s partly because I love summer clothes and partly as a result of all of the sales which abound. I think the back t0 school issue is big, too. It gets so ingrained in us that we don’t escape it as we age, even if we don’t have kids!

      • I think I buy because I really like fall clothing and I just can’t wait :)! Not that I can wear most of them until mid-October but I like to pretend (and turn the AC on high in my classroom and ignore that it’s the hottest month of the year).

        You have never asked for feedback on your outfits (nor should you). I’m sure most of the people who like to critique others are not fashion plates themselves. I have run into a few of the very popular style bloggers (in L.A. and in New York). They know their best angles and have photographer boyfriends/husbands (and use photoshop a lot). In real-life they are regular, cute people. Not the fashion icons everyone makes them out to be online. In the real world you wouldn’t really notice them or their outfits amongst all the other people. I say this because everything can be manipulated by the right camera, lighting and angle. You don’t post vanity shots – no series of pictures of you contemplating a leaf while holding your new handbag :). Just examples of outfits to illustrate a point.
        I have a very distinct style (very dressed up, dark colors, sort of Helmut Newton inspired – think Carolyn Bessette Kennedy meets Carine Roitfeld) and people ask me all the time why I dress like I do. I tell them, “Because it’s Monday.” (Or whatever day it is.) I never take it personally. I wouldn’t wear what they are wearing and I definitely wouldn’t take their advice on what to wear. Please do not listen to the comments of others about your skirt length or anything. Wear the things that make you the happiest on any given day.

        I’ll take this opportunity to recommend a few things you may like to read or look into. You have mentioned trying to find your style a few times. I think I have every book out there on this topic including some that are out of print. My absolute favorite is “Style Statement” by McCarthy and LaPorte. It’s a personal branding book where you come up with two words that represent you. I really have found it helpful in narrowing my focus while shopping. My words are Refined and Sophisticated. The author of the Unfancy blog recommended the book “The Compound Effect” and I think it the best goal-setting/life book I have read. I never watch TV so I hadn’t heard of the Rachel Zoe backed show called “Resale Royalty.” I watched the first season this weekend on Amazon. I really enjoyed it since I do most of my shopping from online resale stores. It really helped me stop my shopping this week too. To watch how little the women were getting for perfect condition designer items – yikes.

      • October often is the hottest month of the year, isn’t it? Weird Southern California weather… But the rest of the country (and much of the world) would laugh at us for complaining!

        Thanks for sharing your experiences of running into some of the famous style bloggers. I’ve always thought that it’s the fabulous photography and “model” poses that make the outfits look more exciting than they really are (I love your comment about contemplating a leaf while holding a handbag!). I’ve never wanted to post vanity shots, as that’s just not the type of person I am. I’ve always been very modest and if anything, more self-effacing than someone who thinks I’m “all that.” In fact, I’ve been working on my self-confidence for years and style has been an important part of that (but also has lead to overshopping).

        Like you, I often like to dress up and people will ask, “Why are you so dressed up?” I’ll have to remember your snappy comeback for next time 🙂 I think it’s important to wear what makes us happy. I did just that last night when I met up with a friend who I haven’t seen for a while. I was feeling a lot less than par physically, but wearing a “happy outfit” made a big difference. It might have been “dressed up” for San Diego, but it make me feel good, which was what was most important.

        I appreciate the book recommendations. I’ve heard of the first but not the second. I like the idea of coming up with two words to represent my style. I like the two words you chose and it presents a very clear picture (and dovetails nicely with the Carolyn Bessette Kennedy – loved her style! – and Carine Roitfeld hybrid description you gave). The second book is intriguing because I am big into goals (but set too many, as I wrote!). And the TV show just sounds like fun. I have never shopped at online resale stores but am open to the idea. I have sold a lot of my clothes through local resale stores and have sometimes gotten print-outs that itemize how much I got for each item. Very depressing and scared me straight, at least to some degree! My clothes are not high-end designer, but I would have thought they would have netted me more money than they did!

  7. And this post shows that your blog is really about more than just shopping.

    I have said this before, but I don’t think you should beat yourself up about exceeding your item limit for the year, particularly if it is because you did a great job at getting rid of the U8s.

    Sorry to hear that you have had a rough month. Hopefully writing about it will prove cathartic.

    • Thanks, Sara. I’m glad that my blog is about more than just shopping. Writing about my relapse DID prove cathartic and I feel much better now. I’m ready to move on. You’re right that I’ve done a great job of getting rid of the items that are not “8”s or above. I think I’m shopping smarter, too, even if I do keep making mistakes. Nothing is really lost as long as we are learning!

  8. I`m right there with you, Debbie. I love your blog, the way you write, your often raw honesty, how you put outfits together, it`s my favourite blog. Be encouraged Debbie, I am one of a whole lot of people from all over the place, that loves what you do to inspire, teach and encourage us, out of your own experiences. Thankyou so much.
    Fiona (New Zealand)

    • I’m honored to be the author of your favorite blog, Fiona. Thanks so much for telling me that and for all of your other kind words! I’m happy to be able to inspire and teach others through my writing and I don’t ever take that for granted.

  9. Don’t be so hard on yourself, Debbie! I only recently discovered your blog, but already I made some changes in my shopping behaviour because I am inspired by what you write.
    I am sorry to hear you had all this trouble with your health, and I can imagine how this would cause you to shop more. But you are only human, and you are allowed to make mistakes.
    As for your clothes and hair, I am also very sorry how comments made you doubt yourself, there is no need to doubt yourself. I think you are very brave to be so open and honest in what you write and show. And you are good enough!!

    Kind regards,

    • Many thanks, Bettina. I welcome you as one of my newest readers and I’m glad my writing has helped you to make positive changes. You’re right that I am only human. I’m doing my best to believe in myself more. It’s difficult, but recognizing and naming when I don’t is helping me to trust myself more fully. It’s a process, but I’m gradually getting there.

  10. I’m sorry that you’ve had a tough month. The last three months have been challenging to me shopping wise. I met two of my friends in NYC in May. I didn’t buy anything new for the trip. That is very unusual for me. I always buy new clothes for vacations and especially for a trip to a place that is so different than where I live. While I was there and also the portion of the trip to CT. to visit my family I only bought one blouse. This should have been a reason to celebrate, but I felt somewhat deprived. I had a few incidents with a couple of people that I’m close to. I will say that I could have acted in a better way in response to their behavior. However, I swung from feeling outraged to taking responsibility for the whole situation. I felt really bad about myself. I don’t know if I thought that I should have been a better doormat? Done what other people wanted and totally ignored what was right for me? After all that I spent a huge amount of time looking and shopping, much like you’ve described above. I also didn’t spend too much over my budget, but it was the feeling I had that bothered me.
    After feeling so out of control I decided to do a shopping ban even though I haven’t had very much success with them in the past. Toward the end of it I was counting the days until I could shop again. In late June and through July I have overspent and bought too much again- feeling deprived from the shopping ban.
    This could have all been bad, but it has actually turned out to be a positive thing because I really learned quite a bit. I realized I was ignoring the things that have worked for me in the past such as filling my time with things not clothing related and saving for something else that I want such as a household item or a vacation. I was continually drawn to things that I haven’t had a history of success with like a shopping ban. It’s like I felt to make a change I needed to suffer and it had to be hard and extreme. No wonder I was failing! I have committed to doing what works best for me and the results have been good. There has been much less looking and buying. On the practical side of things I passed along about 30 more things and have a much better idea of what I’m looking for, a list, and a more clear idea of what I like. This has led me to spend even less time looking because I’m not buying all things now. I feel like I’m in a pretty good place at the moment and hope it continues for a while. I know it won’t be forever though and I’ll have to have a plan to get through future hard times.
    I wanted to share all of that with you in hopes of letting you know that your mistakes this past month could turn out to be a very good thing. You’ve recognized what some of your triggers are and now you have the option to come up with alternative ways of coping. I’ve had good luck with meditation and writing in my journal-some days I feel like taking up kick boxing would be more appropriate 🙂 You’ve come so far and you’re nothing like 2012 Debbie. I’ve been reading some of your first blog posts and the changes are obvious. I love your honesty and willingness to take responsibility. This to me is more of an opportunity rather than a failure.

    • Your story is proof that things are not black and white, Tonya. Some people would just beat themselves up for shopping too much, but you delved deeper and learned some really powerful lessons from the experience. I’m trying to do the same. I agree that if we see these types of experiences as opportunities rather than failures, it’s far more empowering and serves us a lot better.

      Like you, I tend to ignore my feelings and needs in my interactions with others. That definitely leads me to want to shop as a way of nurturing myself. I have also tended to try “solutions” that never worked for me in the past, such as “shopping bans.” I think there is no one size fits all solution. Shopping bans or hiatuses or time outs – or whatever you want to call them – can be very beneficial for some people, but they aren’t for everyone. I tend to overshop more in the face of such restrictions, but I know that Jill Chivers and many other people have done amazingly well doing what didn’t work for me. I need to focus more on the other facets of my life and less on controlling and monitoring the shopping. I was doing well for a while there, but then I had more stress in my life and slipped back into bad habits and behaviors. I applaud you for the positive changes you’ve made! I’m glad you’ve noticed similar changes in me, especially since my earlier posts. Perhaps I should go back and read some of those myself!

  11. Wow, Debbie! You are a brave woman and I so adore you showing your vulnarability. It, will for sure help others to deal with their compulsary behaviour, including mine.

    • Thank you so much, Anki. I never used to consider myself brave or courageous and it still brings me to tears to think that now. But I guess I am brave for writing this blog and sharing so much. If it helps others, it’s definitely worth it to me!

  12. Debbie, I’m very sorry to hear about the issues you’ve been having lately, and the persistent health issues. I agree with the other commenters that you shouldn’t be hard on yourself about buying more than you ‘should’ have. It happens to all of us, but I can imagine the guilt might be compounded when you make yourself publicly accountable.
    The hair issue really hit a chord with me. I recently had to cut my hair shorter than usual due to damage, and I really dislike it. Also I dye my hair blonde, and, as finding a colorist who knows how to deal with Western hair in Japan is no mean feat, I’ve never been satisfied with my colour. Then there’s the humidity that makes hair unmanageable for half the year, as well as years of less than complimentary comments about my hair from my mother (I know she means well but…). I’ve developed a huge complex about my hair, and feel that no matter how well I dress my hair always lets me down. Our hair is really so important to our self-confidence.

    • I think the hair issue struck a chord with many, Kayla. You’re right that hair is important to our self-confidence and I struggle with mine all the time. I’ve been flat-ironing it for years because it has an uneven wave and lots of frizz. The humidity wreaks major havoc on my hair and this is the worst time of year for it where I live. Now that I’m in my late 40s and my hair is mostly grey, it’s more fragile and has been breaking and splitting from the flat-iron. I will likely have to cut it short before too long and that’s hard for me as a woman who has been known for having long, pretty hair all of my life. I see lots of women with short hair that looks good, but it’s an identity thing for me. I have a huge complex about my hair, too, and it always seems like the weak link in many of my outfits. I’m not sure what to do about it, but I just want to tell you I feel your pain. Hope you find a good colorist in Japan soon.

    • Kayla, I had to smile about your difficulty finding a good hairdresser for Western hair in Japan – not because I’m happy you’re having trouble, but it reminded me of my lovely friend. She and I used to go to Salon Mona Lisa Rokko (I think it was called) in Kobe because there was a stylist there who had trained in NYC and spoke good English – always a bonus when you’re uneasy about getting your hair cut somewhere new. My friend was 5’10” with beautiful peaches and cream skin and bright blue eyes and had frizzy/curly blonde hair. Needless to say, she got a lot of attention in Japan… One day she came back from a 3 hour appointment with a new colorist at the salon very upset – “Do I look like Kermit? I look like Kermit!” was all she could wail. And sure enough, they had dyed her hair (at least slightly) green. It took so much for her to go back to the salon and apologize for not being happy with green hair and ask them to fix it. I think that was when she decided it that blonde might not be her best option any more. 🙂

      • Oh, Joanna, your poor friend! Kermit! I’m not too far from Kobe, but not quite close enough to go there regularly for haircuts, unfortunately. My hair was dyed orange once, and more recently purple, in the pursuit of the right blonde colour. At least my current current colour is definitely blonde. Also years ago I used to have my hair cut in a layered bob to make it curly (it’s naturally wavy). The first time I ever went to a hairdresser’s in Japan (a salon called “Brains Hair Club”!) they styled my hair dead straight. Although my preference is for straight hair now, at the time I was in total shock because I didn’t even know it was possible to straighten my hair.

  13. Debbie, I’m so very sorry you’ve had such a rough time of it lately. Please know that you are most definitely good enough! I think you’re a beautiful woman inside and out even though you may not feel like it. Don’t beat yourself up too hard. It’s an ongoing battle for all of us recovering shopaholics. I have to start physical therapy tomorrow for an injury and what do you think my first thought was? It was “what am I going to wear?” I usually wear dresses all summer and don’t like the way shorts look on me right now so, even though I’m on a shopping ban, I immediately thought to myself that I’d go shopping today for something appropriate to wear to PT. Really that’s just a ridiculous idea. Nobody cares what I wear as long as I’m covered. I’m going to wear sweatpants and take a pair of workout shorts in case I need to change. I still don’t feel good about it though. Here’s hoping that August is a better month for you! 🙂

    • I would have been right there with you about wondering what to wear to PT, Kim. I did have to have PT a few years back and hated how many mirrors were in there because I kept thinking I looked terrible in my less than stellar clothes I had to wear to my appointments. I prefer the way I look in dresses in the summer, too. I only wear shorts to exercise at home because I have unsightly varicose and spider veins (have done some treatments but they come back). I see lots of women with less than beautiful legs out there enjoying life, so why can’t I do it? Anyway, I hope your PT goes well and that you feel okay in what you wear there, whether it be sweats or shorts. And hope your injury heals quickly!

  14. Firstly, I want to send you a virtual hug! I think you are a wonderful person, and I hate that you struggle so and wish I could help. You are enough! I read every post you publish because you are a great writer, are open and honest, and because you are also very intelligent and have helped me and others immensely along the way of helping yourself. I hate to admit that I find you so much more relateable when you share the bad as well as the good- you help us aspire to do better without putting yourself up as the paragon we should all follow! So please, don’t feel like you are disappointing US when you share your faults- remember that we need both sides of the story, or we could feel 2x as bad about our own slip ups and not feel able to share our own dark sides of the story!

    I also am struggling this month, all for similar reasons to you. Emotionally in particular- there has been a LOT of serious family issues (my parents are very close to separation at this point for example, my mother’s health, etc etc). In an emotional state and a ‘to hell with it’ attitude (without even really thinking about what I was doing or why), I turned to online shopping and placed 4 large orders in one day after a particularly nasty family situation. 5 pairs of shoes, 3 pairs of pants, 2 skirts, and 8 tops if I remember correctly! Once I got them the first day, I was tempted to keep most of it. But after a couple days of reflecting, I am keeping 2 pairs of shoes, 2 blouses, and a skirt (all identified needs). But we are only in the beginning of the month, and it’s my birthday in a few weeks (Happy early birthday to you, Debbie!)… I have a shopping trip planned with friends I haven’t seen in a while for this weekend and will concentrate on getting things on my list that are 9’s+ and will be versatile/well used. In the end though, too much shopping and not enough work on the triggers to shop.

    I also upped my item limit, back to the original 45 (50% of last year’s shopping). Next year it will be a lot less though. I also don’t want all these restrictions, but I need them until I walk the line without crossing it constantly and having to do damage control.

    • Sorry to hear that you are struggling, too, Meli. I appreciate how honest you are on your blog, too. I think you’re right that we are more relatable when we have both ups and downs. I know I read some bloggers who seem “preachy” and just too perfect and I often stop reading those blogs because I just feel inferior when I read them. I like to read people who are “real,” so that’s a big part of why I strive to be so open and honest here.

      I know you have struggled with your item limit, too, so I’m glad you decided to move it up again. I know you changed jobs recently and your needs have changed. My needs haven’t really changed much, but my style is evolving, plus we are all in different places and should be aiming for progress instead of perfection, like I’ve said. I really hoped I could cut down on my items purchased by half, but maybe that wasn’t really feasible for me this year. I know, however, that I will make substantial progress, as you have and will, too. The restrictions can be helpful for us while we’re new to shopping less, but hopefully one day we won’t need them anymore. Best of luck to you!

  15. Debbie: you are very brave & tough minded to share the bumpy parts as well as the smooth. That shows grit! And grit is what will get you where you want to be, in my humble opinion. I am a fan who wishes you a double share of health & happiness in the months ahead.

    I haven’t commented in awhile… I’m the recovering clothesorexic. I have a new job & some pressing wardrobe needs that are making me anxious. I like having a Pinterest board for ideas. It’s a cooling off step that lets me get comfortable enough with items to maybe eventually buy them. It might work the same way for the opposite impulse.

    I also just started storing my clothes differently, to give my husband a little more room in our one closet. I repurposed a beautiful cedar wine shelf a friend was discarding into open wardrobe storage. I have jeans, tees and scarves folded in stacks, shoes, jewelry in acrylic display bins, and shoes and belts. It’s pretty empty and reminds me I should perhaps add a few items to make it more functional. Anyway, seeing more of my wardrobe displayed together makes it almost like my own little store & helps me put things together in new ways. It might work the same way for someone who feels stymied by too much.

    Congratulations on the article! That’s huge! And you are helping a lot of people with your writing. Warm regards…

    • Glad to see you commenting again, Thimblelina. It sounds like you are making good progress. I like your ideas of using Pinterest and storing your clothes differently. I haven’t used Pinterest all that much, but I can see how it would be useful. I have definitely benefitted from reorganizing my closet, though. I do it every few months and it does help to see things in different ways. Thanks for your kind words and I wish you the best with your recovery journey!

  16. I had a small haul this last weekend after No Buy July, even though I wanted to take it slow. It just sort of happened, the things on my list started popping up. Then there were 2 impulse buys. It comes to 5 items, which may not sound like much to most people, but I can’t think of any time I’ve ever bought that much in a day or two. I started to get buyer’s remorse and questioning what I got and why. But I know I made good buys and I need to find a place where I can be content with mini splurges and then relax without buying for a while.
    I’ve come to realize my item limit was hopeful but not that realistic. When I broke it down into what I have in each category and how often I want to update, it comes out to 30 items. That’s without any surprise items that just grab you. I also realized my shopping patterns vary depending on living in FL or CA. I buy more when living in FL and less when in CA. All that to say, I should have expected to be nearing 36 to 40 items for this year, and planned accordingly. Next year will be lower, hopefully 24 or less, when I move back. Also, expecting to buy a certain number monthly does not follow my shopping patterns I’ve noticed either. Better to alot for 4 or 5 items the first month of a season and then back off for a month or two, and maybe refresh again near the end of said season. Instead of 2 items per month every month, for example.
    And yes, I feel like 2 steps backwards this week, but I keep picking myself up, too. Tomorrow’s a new day!

    • I often tend to have at least a small shopping “binge” after I do a shopping hiatus of any length, Mo, so I can relate. I think what you wrote about buying more at the beginning of a season sounds like a good plan. I have been thinking I should make those same type of allowances for myself. Where I live, July is basically the beginning of summer and I’ve traditionally shopped more then. Likewise, fall really starts here in November, which as also been a bigger shopping month for me. I think I’d do better to plan for those bigger shopping months than to try to get myself to buy the same amount each month. I know that you do a lot of analysis like I do, and you seem to have a good sense of what you need and what works for you. It seems to me that you’re doing quite well, even if you do end up buying a bit more than you originally planned.

  17. I read somewhere that the past serves merely as a teaching tool so learn and move on. I flinched when I read the comments section on that post about your outfits. It made very uncomfortable reading – especially after you mentioned that the outfits per se weren’t up for discussion. Oucha!

    Virtual Hugs to you dear Debbie, keep on keeping on x

    • Good comment about the past, Saltbox. We are better served to try to learn from it than by beating ourselves up. Yes, the comments on that post kind of took me a back. I don’t really feel inclined to post more outfit pictures at this point, especially since I’m really trying to find my own style. I’m sure everyone meant well, but I’m not strong enough in my self-esteem and my sense of style to withstand all that criticism at this point. I admire those who post their outfits on a blog every day. I couldn’t do it! Thanks for the virtual hugs – right back at you!

  18. First, success is very stressful and Debbie you have achieved much attention and published success in a very short amount of time. We always tend to believe success will make our lives easier, but what it brings is new lessons, new challenges, and it opens the gate for critics to jump in and examine us with a magnifying glass. And if you are like me, it causes us to feel insecure, and to overly examine ourselves and can wreck havoc. The good news is you have moved beyond and now you have good hindsight and can see what you need to watch out for. For those of us who use, or have ever used, shopping and clothes and our appearance as a means to cope with whatever it is that we are having a hard time coping with, shopping will always be dangerous territory. I had lots of relapses in my early years. Occasionally I still tend to want to comfort myself with clothes and other appearance things. But now when I see that I’m becoming overly focused on clothes and my appearance, for me this is a red flag that there are important emotional issues I need to deal with, and I can now recognize that it is not a good time for me to shop, spend money, or make decisions about clothes. You are doing beautifully Debbie. You had a relapse. No worries. It will happen from time to time. Most importantly is that you are learning good things along the way.

    • I don’t feel all that successful, Terra, but I very much appreciate your saying I am. I guess I need to adjust my definition of success because I have it tied up too much with financial income, but i know there’s a lot more to it than that. On some levels, I’m just happy that my words are reaching those who need them and that my story has inspired other women. That really should be enough for me, but I hold myself to very high standards, probably TOO high.

      I appreciate you sharing that you had relapses in early years and still sometimes want to comfort yourself with clothes. I would imagine that it’s a continuum and that as we progress, those impulses decrease. After I wrote yesterday’s post, I already felt better, especially after I’ve been receiving such support from readers. I know that I am learning and growing and that’s what’s most important!

      • Me too Debbie. In the past my idea of success was wholly tied up too much with financial income. It tripped me up for many years before I began to see success playing out in a multitude of other good ways.

        All the money in the world could not have bought you recovery from shopping. Nor could it have bought you your talent as a writer and this successful blog and your published books. You earned success with your hard work, good writing, your candid honesty and your heart-felt connection to your readers. Financial reward may follow. Hopefully it will. But it cannot measure your success.

      • Very true words, Terra! I think that people in general place too much importance on money and income. Of course, those things matter, but they don’t matter as much as we often make them matter. I have beat myself up for far too long for failing to bring in 6 figures, but I know deep down that I am a worthwhile human being despite my modest earnings. When it comes down to it, I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned and the talents and abilities I have for a big paycheck. The older I get, the more I realize it’s not worth it. There is a lot more to life than a big paycheck or a fancy job title!

  19. Oh Debbie!~ I feel your pain (and share it!) on so many levels – this is not an easy road – we are humans and are susceptible to feelings and other people’s judgment, and it is very hard to NOT let that happen – you moreso by exposing yourself to the public eye….I’m hiding behind a screen name myself 😉 And I bet many who do criticize wouldn’t put themselves out in light either – that said – I got remarried Sept 2013 (after a failed 22 yr marriage) – well new husband had his own house fixing up to sell while moved in (partly) to my house – all good but (and here come my reasons) me feeling not quite “financially married” because we hadn’t really talked about comingling money while he maintained his house – he helped out in winter with heat and plowing…while putting money into repairs for his house. He’s a very hard worker and I knew and know we will be fine – of course I’ve been honest with him about my overspending/shopping in the past….mostly… Finally in May his house went under contract – just now sold end of July – yippee! Oh dear – the reality of now REALLY being honest with yes my credit cards that have crept up over the past 2 yrs (paid off when I sold my other house) – and the fact that my work life turned very stressful when a coworker was fired, and 2 p/t replacements both left for different reasons – all stresses on me…led me to shopping (husband would stay working 1-2 nights per week at his former house) which gave me the freedom to order away…we have a trip to Italy planned using some wedding money and will be going in Sept for our 1 yr anniversary – well husband is not happy and would have preferred not to go as he doesn’t believe in ANY credit card debt – I keep saying it is my debt and I work and make money and paying is not an issue….and here I am 50 yrs old struggling with still feeling the guilt of spending/shopping and trying to keep an open, honest marriage going…which talking about spending didn’t happen in my last marriage as x had his own issues he didn’t want to talk about…
    long story but alas – I know I was doing a bit better when I was keeping track – keeping a list – then I just kind of let it go and fell back somewhat into old patterns…On a positive I still sell consistently at consignment shops and into this fall will be purging a few good items coats/boots for better money…
    It’s just exhausting…..and although it doesn’t sound it, I really do want to be better, stop overspending, and get to a more minimalist way of life – hugs to you!!

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Sandy. Congrats on being more open and honest in your second marriage and on your 1-year anniversary. A trip to Italy sounds fabulous! My husband doesn’t believe in credit card debt, either, and he’s helped me to learn better financial habits. It can take a long time to change old habits, but awareness and a desire to change are important first steps. I wish you the best with your trip and your journey toward change. I’m routing for you!

  20. PS
    Remember, you have traded your full closet for a full life. A gentle nudge. No need to wait until you are feeling better, or have gain gains to report. You are doing beautifully just as you are. A full life is not ahead of you, off in the distance, it’s wherever we are right now, in this moment. It is often small and simple, rooted in everyday things, which is why much of the time we don’t recognize it. Yes, I’m a tad bit preachy today, but this is the one good thing I learned when my son was living his last few years with cancer.

    • Thanks for this gentle nudge, Terra. I need it. I agree that it’s important to remember that our lives are happening right now, not off in the future when we get everything figured out. I try to take pleasure in the everyday moments, but it’s good to remind myself to do that more often. I don’t think you’re preachy at all. I know you care and I know you’ve been through some very hard times, especially with your son’s illness and death. Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned with me and others.

  21. Always a pleasure to read your posts. I had a situation where I was online shopping and bought things I really didn’t need. Long story short; the order was mailed to my old address and took over a month to get my refund. I think this was a sign from above. Because then I read your article in Real Simple. I keep saying that I am going to pare down my closet, drawers, etc. if have gotten as far as making lists. For me, that is progress. I have also unsubscribed to a lot of retailers and my email received in my inbox have been cut in half.
    Thank you

    • Congrats on the progress you have made, Gina! Unsubscribing from lists and making a plan of action are very important steps. Recovery happens one step – and one day – at a time, and you are on your way. Best of luck to you!

  22. I am sorry you’ve had a tough month physically and emotionally! That sounds like a lot of stress. I can relate to your hair woes, being in my eighth month of ponytails every day while trying to grow out a bad haircut (and then a worse one). 😦

    I can see why you feel like you’ve had a relapse over the past month but reading your post what I see is a real leap in insight. You’ve realized that for you, recovery isn’t just about how much money you spend on clothes or how many items are in your closet, but also how much time and mental energy you spend on the activity of shopping. That is huge! I think you’ve had some sense of that in earlier posts but the clarity really comes through here. To me it suggests that the structures and limits you’ve set up (item limit, $ limit), while important, won’t do all the work of getting you where you want to be. I often find that when I’m trying to make a change the structures or systems that I set up at first don’t really work — but that’s not about me failing, exactly, it’s about me not understanding at first what it is that I need to succeed. I’m NOT suggesting that you need new or additional structures/limits around shopping, I don’t mean my post to be a “you should”! Instead I just want to point out the real progress that this seeming “setback” represents in terms of you understanding what it is you really want. Cheers, as always, for your bravery in putting this difficult stuff out there! All the best to you.

    • I’m sorry to hear that so many others share in my hair woes. It’s a big issue for many of us! I sometimes want to cut my hair off, but I worry I would be in your shoes, wearing a ponytail every day after a bad haircut. They always say, “It’s just hair. It will grow back.” But it grows an average of 1/2 inch per month, so that “It will grow back” takes a long time, as you well know!

      Thanks for recognizing my leap of insight and for sharing it here. I agree that I have made a shift in that I’m really present to what the shopping is costing me beyond the dollars and cents. My life is not as full as I would like, in large part because I waste so much time on shopping and related activities. And the mental energy is a big deal, too! As for systems and limits, I think those shift as we grow and change. I did the best I could with those rules as I’ve been going along in my journey. I don’t necessarily want to add more rules, but I think the rules I implement (at least some of them) in the future will be different. Or perhaps some of the clarity I’ve gained will eliminate the need for as many rules. Time will tell, but thank you for your kind words and for cheering me on!

  23. Everything has been said already in the previous comments…

    I’ve been blessed with a high sense of self worth, enough for both of us – you can have some of mine. We’re both people of value to someone close to us, we’re equal to everyone else, we’re talented, unique and worthy of our own love. If we buy stuff we don’t need from time to time, it doesn’t make us worth less. It’s just an act, not who we are. Hugs.

    • To have a high sense of self-worth is truly a blessing, Mette. I was given a smaller helping in that department and even the relatively small amount I have now has been hard won. I thank you for your willingness to give me some of yours. I wish it worked that way! But I thank you for caring and for your kind words and virtual hugs. I agree that buying too much doesn’t decrease my worth. I’m slowly but surely starting to learn new ways of measuring my worth, as the old ways definitely didn’t serve me!

  24. I know I don’t know you but I want to give you a HUGE hug right now! 🙂

    It makes 100% sense why you fell back to shopping during the past month or so. There were simply too many things for you to deal with all at once. Yes, it would have been great if you could have taken a step back, dealt with each issue as it arose, but that’s not the way we, as humans, work (most of the time).

    You have made amazing strides since you started this blog and you should pat yourself on the back for it (repeatedly!) Besides that, you’ve also helped a bunch of women face their own shopping addictions and been their mentor-of-sorts in their own journeys. Isn’t that amazing? Yes, it is 🙂

    This is just my second comment ever but I felt I had to say something. Please be kind to yourself. You deserve kindness.

    • I really appreciate your taking the time to comment today, Ali. I feel that huge hug and I thank you for the kind words you wrote. I have been overwhelmed by the kindness that has been extended to me by readers of this post. I guess I expect others to react similarly to how I react to myself, but you have all done pretty much the opposite of that. I know I need to do more of the same. I have forgiven myself for overshopping last month and am committed to moving forward without guilt and shame. Writing the post helped me to do that and all of your comments have cemented it for me. Thanks again.

  25. Hi Debbie.

    I am going to suggest that you state in all posts in which you post photos that you do not want commentary on how you look or your outfits. You have said a number of times to that you are not a stylist and you are not posting outfit pictures for that reason. I think people forgot that, and feel free to comment as most blogs with outfit pictures are style blogs which encourage feedback on outfits.

    My heart goes out to you. I dress for myself and my life, both which are very casual. I’d love to be dressier but it just doesn’t work for my life no matter how often I buy those clothes. With my figure, casual looks are very ordinary. But they are perfect for me. It’s a hard thing to balance. Good luck to you.

    • I’m not sure when I will post outfit photos again, Croi, but if I do I will definitely state what I’m looking for. I thought I was clear in that last post, but perhaps I was not. I think some people will criticize even if the writer states that isn’t what she wants, though. I was trying to illustrate a portion of my style journey, but I’m not sure if that really came across. Oh, well. Not all posts are going to be stellar or land how I want them to. I think it’s great that you dress for yourself and your life. My life is very casual, too. I would also love to be dressier and sometimes still am, but I have to accept what my life is and dress accordingly, as I know I will be a lot happier that way. Thank you for your support!

      • I would go one step further and say it would be perfectly fine for you to turn off comments on posts where you are using outfit photos. I also noticed on the post you mentioned that many people gave you negative feedback despite you saying that wasn’t the point of the post. Since people ignored your request and said things that made you feel bad – I think you would be justified in turning off comments on posts like that (if you ever do them again!)

        Failing that you could post photos of the clothes on a hanger (I think another commenter once suggested this?) as if there was any criticism then it would feel less personal.

        I also saw a post that made me think of you on a blog I really like – it’s about becoming better at dealing with criticism: http://captainawkward.com/2014/07/10/597-how-do-i-learn-to-take-criticism-better/

        Sensitivity can be a good quality and often makes people very good friends as they are empathetic – but it can also backfire and make us overly self-critical. I always think it takes a lot of bravery to put photos of yourself online.

      • Thanks for sharing the article, Rachel. I look forward to reading it. About the photos, I agree that it takes bravery to post them. I was very scared to do it even the first time, but I didn’t have very many readers back then. If I do post outfit photos again (unsure at this point), I may take your suggestion to either turn off comments or just do “flat photos” of the clothes. I’ve seen some bloggers post outfits on a mannequin. I wish I had one of those! But outfits on hangers or on the floor can also work. I feel kind of sad to not post the outfits on me anymore, but I am understandably gun-shy. I know people were trying to help, but I felt a bit beat up when it was all said and done. It’s true that I am very sensitive, which is both a blessing and a curse. I have been working on caring less about what others think for many years, but it’s still an issue for me (but one I will continue to battle!).

  26. I think you are being way too hard on yourself here. I think at the outset, you were a little optimistic in limiting yourself to a number of garments. You might find it more flexible to set yourself to a dollar amount to spend instead, and you can be more clever about how you allocate your budget. You can have as many or as few pieces as you want depending on how you choose to spend your money.

    We all have these kinds of “relapses”, and it doesn’t always have to do with stressful things going on in our lives. I look at these flurries of purchasing as also being about “mindfully seizing opportunity when it presents itself”.

    Its the end of the summer, and if you’re like me, there are some pieces you’ve had your eye on, waiting for them to go on sale. It seems like common sense to pick them up now that they are on sale after I’ve waited all season. Over the past month I’ve deliberately gone over budget because I was able to get them at the right price. Since I underspent the 4 previous months, I found that my expenditures still averaged out to less than my allotted monthly budget.

    And you are right, clothes alone will never make anyone feel good about themselves. No one thinks they have a perfect body or features. You get up in the morning, get dressed in the garments you have carefully curated, and you do the best you can with the raw material of yourself to work with. And then you step outside of your own way and get on with the business of …living.

    For example today I wore a black/beige ethnic print maxi skirt with a sleeveless black tank and a handmade leather belt. If I was really sensitive, I wouldn’t bare my heavy upper arms in a sleeveless top. But its hot here and I don’t WANT to wear sleeves just because I have a little arm jiggle going on. And you know what? I went out for lunch in a restaurant. Nobody noticed my upper arms, but they did comment on my beautiful skirt and interesting outfit. People don’t focus on our flaws as much as we do.

    • You’re absolutely right, Deby. I am being too hard on myself and I was too optimistic with the item limit. I definitely plan to keep the dollar amount limit, but you’re right that sometimes we spend more in some months than others. We just have to stay aware of what we’re spending and stay on track. I tend to buy more in the summer months, especially since our summer weather starts later here. The sales tend to coincide nicely with when I need to get my summer wardrobe in shape. The same is often true with fall sales here.

      Good for you for wearing the sleeveless top outfit (which sounds lovely) and not worrying about your arms. You’re right that no one else focuses on our “flaws” (which are sometime only such in our eyes) as much as we do. We need to do our best to dress in ways that please us (and are appropriate for our lives) and get on with the business of living. True words!

  27. In my opinion you are a very brave and strong woman! You expose yourself to the whole world which leads to critizism for sure. I would never ever share such insights with anybody in the world, because I do not want to make myself more vulnerable than needed. I appreciate your honesty and openness very much, because this makes you to a real person in the www from whom we all can learn a lot.

    As you often mentioned, your style is evolving and you want to get rid of most of your benchwarmers. This seems to clash with your item limit, as you do not seem to be satisfied with your current wardrobe. I’m in the process of a style change myself (I seem to go through this every 10 years) why I spent more money this year and had to buy matching pieces. I also put on some weight, so it was quite easy for me to overhaul my wardrobe. I don’t want to suggest that you exchange your whole wardrobe all at once, but this might also be a reason why you have trouble sticking to your item limit, which was quite arbitrary anyway. I would tick that off as trial and error and move forward. You are still learning, but you already make a lot of progress!

    If I was satisfied with my complete wardrobe, I would not want to have more, more, more. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I guess that it is possible, as there are people who are satisfied with less (and living a happy life).

    I always used to shop sales at the end of a season. This year I shopped at the beginning of the season and was prepared for spring and summer. It made me quite satisfied, because I had a lot to enjoy during that period. I just added a few things lately which had been gaps. I can wear all my new clothes and do not have to wait until next year when those clothes are already ‘old’ and I crave new things. I think this is a good strategy for me for the future.

    • Congrats on your continued progress, Sandra! Sounds like you prepared well for spring and summer this year. I am lucky, in a sense, in that the summer weather really only starts here in July and continues through October or even November. But sometimes I take advantage of those end-of-season sales a bit TOO much!

      Your observations on my item limit are pretty right on. I think that once I am happier with my style and my wardrobe, I will be okay with buying fewer pieces. I just have to watch out that my style isn’t too much of a continually moving target! If it’s every 10 years like has been your experience, that’s okay, but I don’t want to feel the need to overhaul my wardrobe every single year. If that’s the case, something else besides a style journey is probably going on and needs to be addressed.

  28. Keep your eye on the big picture, you have made great progress and will continue to do so I’m sure. I can relate to not wanting to part with basics that are not so great. I finally donated 8 ill fitting basic tops that I purchased in May. I have held on to them because finding replacements can be very difficult where I live. I still haven’t found replacements, so I will be doing laundry more frequently. A few months ago I mentioned that I had to stop dying my hair due to an allergic reaction. I know how you feel. It can be difficult to achieve the right shade of brunette. I just didn’t feel like myself , it was either too red or too dark & looked harsh next to my skin. Also, bad “trims” like you experienced! I’m also 75% gray / white. Being forced to stop dying my hair at 50 was the best thing ever. Friends & family tell me I look younger. I get compliments all the time from total strangers of all ages. It is much easier to select makeup and clothing colors now. Going gray has boosted my confidence, my hair and skin compliment each other. I just wish I had stopped dying my hair years ago. Your skin and eyes are lovely. You would look striking with white/gray hair if you ever decide to stop dying. Check out “Going Gray Looking Great” site ,it helped me get through the grow out phase. I live at the beach so humidity is high and my hair can get frizzy. After washing my hair ,I put a tiny amount of coconut oil on while still damp. Thanks Debbie, I enjoy your writing. 🙂

    • Totally agree about going grey Jan! I’m 50 and only have maybe 15% grey but I love it. I call it my white highlights. I had never colored my brunette hair although I thought about it several times. Once some grey started I just decided not to start coloring because I knew it would be hard to stop. Plus I didn’t want to pay lots of money for haircolor. I love the site you mentioned and another interesting site is http://greyisok.blogspot.co.uk/. I want my hair to look like hers but I’m not there yet. Also, I agree that Debbie would look striking with white/grey hair.

    • I love women who have the guts to go natural – I have some photos pinned on pinterest of older women with gorgeous long gray hair that I think are just fantastic! I hope in 20 or 30 years I have the guts to go platinum silver!
      However, I did just want to mention if any folks are looking for a natural way to color, look into henna, indigo and amla. You can achieve shades from black to brunette, and all shades of auburn with combinations of these, and it’s all just powdered plant material. I recently switched from chemical hair dye and found that I love henna so much! It takes a little more time than harsh hair dyes but I think it’s worth it, since it actually improves your hair strength and texture instead of damaging it, and it hardly fades at all. If anyone is interested I can share where I get it (I just don’t want to come across as spammy).

    • Thanks, Jan, Kim, and Sarah for the hair resources! I look forward to checking out the sites on going gray and I would be interested in learning more about the henna color, too. I briefly looked at the first gray site that Jan posted and saw a lot of women who look beautiful with gray hair.

      I would LOVE to be free of the burden of having to color my hair so often! I color it every 4 weeks, but it hasn’t even been three weeks now and it already needs it again. The last week, I feel that it doesn’t look all that great. I sometimes use a root cover-up (that looks like a tube of mascara) and that helps, as I refuse to go to the salon more often! I fight my hair in terms of BOTH color and texture and a part of me is really ready to stop that. It could be a very important step on my journey toward simplicity and joy, as well as self-love.

      I wrote about how much time I waste on shopping, but I think I waste MORE time on dealing with my hair (fighting against it). I worry about looking like an “old hag,” but I wouldn’t use that term to describe any of the women I saw on the site Jan referenced. Perhaps I just need to reframe things a bit. A big worry of mine is the transition process. If I had Kim’s wisdom and never went down the color route, it would be much easier. But I don’t know what to do if I want to stop coloring but don’t want to go through a “skunk” stage of a stripe down my head. Wondering how one gets around that without cutting hair very short. Perhaps I can find out on one of the sites…

      • I also had the thought while reading your post that embracing your hair’s natural color and/or texture could make a big difference in how you feel about it! And it does seem to reflect simplicity and joy, too. =) You can’t lose the fight against your hair if you’re not fighting it…

        Even if you hair is just wavy, I would recommend checking out the book Curly Girl or the site naturally curly if you ever get the chance. They both have hair care divided up by texture so you can get a lot of info just reading about your type, and there is lots of focus on reducing frizz and bringing out the best in your natural texture. I have “3a” (wavy hair is 2a and 2b) curls and gave up straightening, and my hair is much healthier now! But it can be a big change if you are used to striving for that straight style.

        I’m young still, but I wish more women embraced gray hair! I think it looks very elegant, and I hope to go full gray when I’m older. Of course, I realize you can’t control how the gray comes in or how it looks, but I hope I’ll be able to work with what I’ve got when I get there.

      • Hi Debbie, I get my henna supplies from hennaforhair.com. It’s run by a woman named Catherine who has a PhD in which she studied the henna plant and its chemistry, so she is VERY knowledgeable. If you email her or call their number, they could probably advise you on how to blend colors to get the one you want. They also carry indigo, amla, and cassia, which are the black, brown and golden tones, respectively (henna does reds). They also carry tiny sample packs so you can test it out first. As far as lightening hair up gradually so the gray doesn’t show, I think you’d have to go to a conventional salon and use bleach, maybe when the damage grows out a bit. (At least the “ombre” trend is still in, so you could do a slow fade from ends to roots!?) The natural products can only deposit color, not lift it, so I actually do use a bit of bleach occasionally as well, but I find the plant material actually coats the hair and makes it stronger and softer again afterwards. Also, since you mentioned that you’re not happy with the texture — have you ever tried oiling your hair? I use a blend of coconut oil and joboba in a bottle with a narrow nozzle, put it in a shower cap for awhile, apply a small amount of heat with a blowdryer, and then leave it for about 30-60 minutes. I find it helps when I have damage.
        Whatever you decide, I hope it works out for you!

      • Thanks so much for the information, Sarah! I will check it out. I have never colored my own hair and would be very nervous to do so, but I know women do it every day. My hair is looking a lot better since the bad color and cut experience. I’m not totally in love with the color yet, but it’s not so crazy dark anymore. I definitely need all the help I can get with conditioning, as my hair is quite dry. I use hair oil most days, but just a few drops. I haven’t done a deep conditioning treatment with it, but I will give what you mentioned a try. I worry that it would be hard to get the oil all out, though. When I was a teenager, I conditioned with mayonnaise! It worked, but it was very hard to wash it all out. And the smell wasn’t the best, either! I’m glad we have better methods all these many years later!

      • If you were ever going to try short hair, I wonder if that might make the transition to your natural color a little easier. I am a big fan of letting hair be what it wants to be. I believe that every woman can have a wash and wear hair cut that suits the way their hair grows and doesn’t require curling or straightening or product or anything. I have found that for myself – I don’t even need shampoo any more. My hair has found its own balance now that I’ve stopped stripping it with shampoo and trying to add that back with conditioner. (I have used coconut oil as a leave-in conditioner on my hair in the past if it got too dry and fluffy, eg after the hairdresser shampooed it). But I love not having to fight my hair.
        Of course shorter hair requires a good stylist and regular visits – my guy did a runner, so I’m 3+ months overdue for a cut and I look like a shaggy dog – but even then it still looks OK, even if it’s driving me nuts hanging in my eyes! 🙂 I really need to walk into town and choose a new stylist. That’s the hardest part for me.

      • Good point about letting hair be what it wants to be, Joanna. I really struggle with that one! I have never had wash and wear hair and have been fussing with it for as long as I can remember. The texture has changed a lot over the years, but I’ve never been happy with it and have always fought against it. That’s definitely not the type of simplicity and joy I’d like to have in my life! Congrats on ending the war with your hair, but I’m sorry to hear that you lost your hairstylist. A good hairstylist is worth his or her weight in gold! I hope you find someone else soon. As for me, I hope to be ready to stop fighting my hair soon. It’s a tough one for me, but I know I would likely feel much more peaceful if I made some changes…

  29. Debbie, this post just goes to show you’re as beautiful on the inside, as you are on the outside! Thank you for being so honest.

    • Thank you so much, Frugal! You inspire me, too. We’re in this together and we WILL get there!

  30. First of all thanks for your honesty. I was slightly scared to read your blog as of late because I haven’t been perfect myself recently. I couldn’t bear to compare myself to all the culling and sensible shopping choices that I know make sense, as they would only serve to highlight my own glaring lapses. Thank you for reminding us that we are all human, and apt to fail. But what matters is what we do with that experience and that we strive to get to where we want to be.

    • I would never want anyone to be afraid to read my blog, Janet. I never want to hold myself up as any type of “paragon of virtue” and better than anyone else. I’m glad that my recent relapse has made me more relatable to some readers, but I hope to always convey a compassionate and empathetic attitude in my writing. That said, I “get’ where you’re coming from, as I sometimes feel inferior and judged when I read some of the minimalism and simplicity blogs. I think it’s important to always stay humble even when we get farther along on the path toward recovery. We ARE all human and we all make mistakes. Perhaps one day, we won’t make so many mistakes with shopping, but we will still slip in some areas. I agree that it’s the lessons we learn from those slips that matter most.

  31. Debbie: The earth is still spinning on its axis, so you didn’t do anything earth-shattering, no matter how much you feel like beating yourself up. You should allow for the fact that you (and everyone else) will fail a little bit now and then — if you didn’t err occasionally you wouldn’t be human. Perhaps you should “forgive” yourself by doing something soothing — a long coastal walk or a massage or a trip to a museum.

    • Good ideas, Dottie. I have a massage planned for next week and will likely take a long coastal walk this weekend (or even tomorrow on my birthday!). And there ARE lots of museums nearby… You’re right that the earth is still spinning on its axis, so my “failings” couldn’t have been THAT bad 🙂

  32. Aw Debbie, sorry you had a tough month. Well, I’ve said this before but I still think it: you’re not broken, you don’t need fixing, and you certainly don’t need to apologize or explain yourself. What you share here is a privilege. I try not to view what you share here as “right/wrong” or “good/bad”, just as your individual and unique story. And also fwiw, I’ve found this perspective helpful: sometimes falling down the rabbit hole is just fine, even useful, maybe exactly what we need at certain times. I hope that makes sense, as that thought tends to comfort me and ease the way back when I’m struggling. Take care 🙂

    • I like your perspective, Claire. Thanks for sharing it. I also like what you wrote about my not being broken and not needing fixing. I think I need that reminder from time to time!

  33. Debbie,

    You couldn’t disappoint us, and you needn’t worry about anyone’s opinion but your own. With that said, please be gentle on yourself. I see a person who has come so far. I respect your honesty and I value your humanity. Thank you for sharing so much of your journey. Through your blog I have been able to check myself in many areas of overshopping. I’m still working on makeup, and I realize it comes from feeling less than stellar in looks. However, no amount of makeup can fill those feelings, and I need to work on strengthening bonds with the people in my life which will ultimately impact my self-esteem far more than beauty products. Again, thank you for sharing.

    • I really appreciate what you wrote, Jackie. I’m glad that my blog has been helpful to you and others. It’s worth it to me to share all of the good, bad, and ugly of my journey if it will help others who are struggling. I have had trouble with make-up and beauty products, too. You should have seen the stockpile of such items I had not long ago. I improved in those areas before I made much progress with the clothes, but we’re all on different paths. Like you, I also need to work more on strengthening bonds with other people, as I agree that will help our self-esteem more than buying clothes, make-up, beauty products, or any other “stuff.”

  34. Debbie there is so much love, support and respect for you in all the above comments and I send you mine as well. I wholeheartedly agree with those who say “You are enough” but actually believing and living it is a struggle for most of us.
    Please don’t feel obliged to cut your hair because you feel you “should” at a certain age because you always look great in your photos – long hair suits you!!! If you are considering alternate ways to approach the inevitable grey, you might like to try golden/caramel highlights in your greying brunette hair – they look more natural as they blend in and last so much longer than colouring. This is what I’ve done and I’m very happy with the result.

    • Thank you so much for your support, Megan, and for your hair advice. I wouldn’t cut my hair because of my age, as I don’t believe in those types of “rules.” If I cut it, it will be because it’s unmanageable, not because I’ve reached a certain milestone. I have considered highlights, but my hair is too damaged for bleach according to my hairstylist (and I believe her). But I am working on going lighter so the gray doesn’t show as much. I’m not ready to go gray yet, but I like to be aware of all of my options. Thanks for your compliment on my long hair. I’ve always liked my hair long, too!

  35. I found the post very helpful and encouraging. Your regrets over the time spent resonate enormously with me; in fact I think its more of a problem for me than the budget – I’m not too bad these days about keeping within a limit, but I waste too much time fretting over clothes, surfing the internet for imaginary purchases, looking at fashion magazines or sites (where the clothes are modelled by women so different to me that its absurd to form any views on the basis of how they look. or simply standing rooted to the spot in front of my wardrobe unable to decide on any combination that I like. I have many far more worthwhile projects in my life, if I could understand why I waste all this time even (or particulary!) in the face of important impending deadlines, that would be real progress!
    oh… and hair is another issue that rings try right at the moment. Your long hair suits you. I’ve just started putting mine up, and am worrying over the result..and then getting annoyed with myself for fussing so much.. so it goes on!

    • You know I understand how you feel about the abundance of time spent, Alice. I seem to revert to spending a lot of time on clothes and shopping when I am avoiding something else in my life. Could that possibly be true for you? The awareness is an important first step. Sometimes if I push myself to take some action of something I’ve been scared about – or didn’t quite know how to approach – I feel better. It’s the “baby steps” that are what get us to where we want to be in the long run. I know why I delved headlong into shopping in July, but now I’m trying to gradually face the “demons” so I’ll be stronger in the long run. Not easy, though!

      Thanks for chiming in regarding the hair. I can see that many others can relate to my hair woes. I think a lot of emotions are tied to our hair, just like our clothes!

  36. PS when my mum used to fret about her legs when she was young, her father used to say ‘what’s wrong with them, they reach the ground!’ – remembering that has often made me smile when I get frustrated with my appearance. You look just fine!

    • Love the comment from your grandfather to you mum! I’m trying to focus more on the functionality of my body parts instead of just how they look. My legs may not look like a supermodel’s, but they DO get me where I want to go and allow me to take long walks by the water. I am definitely grateful for that!

  37. Debbie – I’ve read your blog for maybe 6 weeks & I have to tell you that it has been so wonderful! Every day I read it, whether you have a new post or not. Your words keep me centered since I have many issues with shopping, size changes & body image. It’s just been the best! Rather than buy things that aren’t right but are on sale or not buy pieces I could use (like decent dainties or pants that fit), I made a list of pieces I needed, bought a number of them & shocker – I haven’t want to shop as much. Boy, talk about holding myself hostage, & for what? The things we do to ourselves.

    So thank you for your honesty. Truly, I needed that. And please try to be a bit more gentle with yourself – it is a constant battle, this thing of feeling worthy. Top it off with health issues & some unkind comments from the peanut gallery – just makes matters worse, but you’ve made a difference in my life. I have so enjoyed & appreciated your words. Thanks!

    • I was thrilled to read your comment yesterday, Caro, which was my birthday. It was definitely a gift to me to learn that I have been having such a positive impact on your life. Thank you for coming by to tell me that! Congrats on making up a shopping list and using it! It really does help a lot. I wish you the very best. Just take it day by day and try to be gentle and forgiving of yourself during challenging times. You and the other commenters have convinced me I need to do so as well 🙂

  38. You couldn’t disappoint me Debbie. I find your openness impressive and I value all your contributions. I’m sending you a virtual bunch of flowers to commiserate for a rotten month. I think making progress and then slipping back a bit is very human (I’m trying to lose weight and I was told anyone can lose the weight for a while, it’s what you do when you slip that makes the difference). Think how far you’ve come since you started, and all that you’ve achieved. I’m proud for you, and I hope one day you’ll feel the same. Yay, Debbie!

    • Thank you for your kind words, Cathy, and for the virtual bunch of flowers 🙂 I think you’re SO right that it’s what we do when we slip that makes all the difference. I feel a lot stronger after writing this post and reading all of the encouraging comments from readers. I believe I will finish the year on a positive note. I wish the same for you!

  39. Coming in late as I was on vacation last week. Debbie, I want to thank you for your openness, but also please know that you could never disappoint me. Personally, I also struggle a lot with the “why am I not perfect” thinking, and to be honest, thinking that other people ARE perfect is a big part of why I beat myself up. Selfishly, if your recovery were linear and perfect and you never slipped up, it would make me feel more alone and crappy. I think that opening up to us, and admitting your failings is very helpful as we can see that, hey, other people have problems too. I would so love to share lunch and tell you in person how big of a contribution you are making to other people’s lives. Except of course there’s a whole continent in the way!

    Anyway, I have been realizing lately that shopping is just ONE of my behaviors that I indulge in to stuff down emotions and not deal with them. I have a whole arsenal of them! One of my new year’s resolutions was to no longer drink to drown my sorrows. I still will share a beer or glass of wine with someone to enjoy a meal, but I am not allowing myself to have a glass (or 3) on my own because I’ve had a bad day and want to de-stress. I have stuck to my guns, but I have had some very uncomfortable evenings where I just want to be out of my own head. But as I force myself to sit through it, I have realized that shopping was just doing the same thing for me as drinking was – providing a temporary respite from life’s difficulties. I just wish there was some way we could learn coping strategies at high school or something and not go through all this. I think with a month as difficult as you have had, a slip was highly likely. If shopping is your major way of “de-stressing” then it is natural you go back to it easily. But please don’t beat yourself up – you are learning from it and will come out victorious. Perhaps one day we will all figure out better coping strategies.

    • I appreciate your “late” comment, Sarah, and could really relate to what you wrote. I struggle a lot with comparison and wondering why I’m not perfect, too. I don’t think anyone’s recovery is linear. If so, that’s probably a very small group. Most of us have the types of ups and downs which you and I have experienced. I’m glad that my sharing my failings can help others to feel less bad about their own. In truth, we ALL have failings, but most people do their darned best to hide them. I’m honestly tired of doing that and tired of trying to appear “perfect” (or as close to it as possible) for so many years. I just turned 48 (yesterday – Eek!) and I’m ready to live my life for me – and more fully and less wrapped up on negativity and comparison.

      I have used a lot of behaviors to stuff down emotions, too. Shopping has been one of my biggest ones (as well as eating, not eating, and overexercising), but there has been a long list of mostly maladaptive behaviors that didn’t get me where I wanted to be in life. Congrats on your commitment to no longer drink to drown your sorrows. I know how difficult it is to try to do things in moderation – and it IS very uncomfortable!, but you’re doing it! So am I, but I had a rough patch. I’m over it now, and I’m moving on…

      I wish we would have been taught more life skills in school, too. I wish I would have learned more positive ways to cope when I was younger, but it’s not too late for us to learn. I’m searching for those better ways to deal with my emotions, too. As I learn new insights, I will definitely share them here on the blog. Life is tough, fast-paced, and relentless. We all need ways to cope with difficulties. It’s understanding why we would turn to shopping, alcohol, food, or a whole host of other behaviors or substances. But I KNOW there has to be a better way and I’m going to keep searching for it!

      • Happy belated birthday!! I wonder if this is the age for really figuring all this stuff out. I’m turning 46 in a few short weeks, and I do feel this pull to be authentically me, and to get my life in a place where I am happy with it.

        I recently read 10% Happier by Dan Harris, which was excellent. It’s all about meditation which I keep trying to do instead of all my destructive behaviors in order to deal with life. But of course, I’m very fits and starts with that too. Ah well, I’ll keep trying with it all.

    • Oh, I forgot to say… I wish we could share that lunch, too! Too bad about that pesky continent stopping it from happening. I wish I could meet many of you in person. Perhaps if any of you make it to San Diego one day (or if I ever do more of the traveling I’d like to do – when I’m healthier…). I appreciate when you tell me I’m making a difference in your lives, but please know that you all make a difference in MY life, too! I feel pleased to have this platform that allows me to connect with so many wonderful women around the world!

  40. Happy Belated Birthday!
    I must have missed this post. Good for you, sharing the hard stuff as well as the successes. That’s why there’s an “-ing” in your blog title – it’s a work in progress. But you’re learning from every choice you make. No one expects you to have it all together, except maybe yourself.
    What’s that thing people say about not comparing your insides with someone else’s outsides? Just remember that no one has it all together. Everyone is a work in progress.
    Hoping this year brings you lots of happiness and fulfillment 🙂

    • Thanks for the birthday wishes, Joanna! You’re so right about the “ing” in my blog title. I don’t claim to be completely recovered. It’s definitely a work in progress and even when I have setbacks, I learn from them and that has a lot of value, especially since I also share my lessons with others on the blog. I really appreciate your kind words and encouragement.

  41. I think we all slip back into poor habits from time to time. But if we didn’t slip back, we’d probably never realize all the progress we HAVE made. One needs something to compare against right? I also purchased and returned from NAS, which is an old habit. But I did purchase less overall, return less and am much happier for the items I did keep and the decisions I did make.

    • Very true, Lisa! I do think we all backslide from time to time, but fortunately I’m in a better place again now. It seems like you did well with your NAS shopping judging from your recap post. Maybe it takes us a few go-arounds with that sale to get things right. Next year, I plan to be better prepared and to have a budget allocated specifically for NAS.

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