This blog is called “Recovering Shopaholic.” It started out being a personal log of my progress in overcoming a decades-long compulsive shopping problem. I never dreamed that I would attract as many readers as I have and have the capacity to touch so many people’s lives. Over the close to three years that I have written this blog, it has evolved into being about more than just me and my recovery, but that is still the focus of many of my posts, including my accountability updates.
Most of the comments I receive on my posts are very positive and encouraging. I appreciate that so many of you share your own struggles and triumphs in your comments and emails, and I am frequently touched that you feel comfortable opening up to me. In addition to sharing about yourselves, many of you also comment on my growth and progress. Sometimes you challenge me with your questions and give me “tough love” about my behavior. On a number of occasions, readers’ comments and emails have inspired future posts. This is one of those times…
The Comment that Inspired this Post…
Just this morning, I received a comment that included the following sentence:
Everyone is telling you how great you are doing, that you are on the way to recovery, but buying 11 items in one month doesn’t speak of improvement or “recovery.”
There was more to the comment than just that one sentence, and the entire comment was worded in what I thought was a harsh way, but there was some truth in it and it made me think. I thought about what recovery means and about the recovery process in general. I decided I had some thoughts I wanted to share with you, as I’m sure others have thought similar things to what the commenter expressed and may have questioned my recovery or their own. It’s my hope that today’s post will shed some light on the topic and perhaps spark a lively discussion among readers.
First, I want to address the comment directly. I think that one has to consider the context before making a blanket statement like that. What if those 11 items were all that a person bought in an entire year or for a full season (e.g. fall/winter or spring/summer)? Would you think that person was exhibiting compulsive shopping behavior? And what if the person who purchased 11 items in one month used to buy three or more times that many pieces? Wouldn’t that be a vast improvement and potentially signal a significant milestone on the road to recovery?
Yes, I know that not all of the hypothetical scenarios I mentioned above apply to me, but I wanted to make a point. I don’t think it’s fair to make such a sweeping judgment without knowing the context, but I know that people do this all the time. I am not above reproach in this respect, either, as I have been known to judge people’s behavior without knowing much about them. Until we have walked a mile in someone else’s shoes, we can’t really make judgments about them. We just don’t have enough information…
On My July Purchases and How Recovery Unfolds
But having said all that, let’s get back to me and my eleven July purchases. If you’ve been reading for a while, you may also recall that I bought about the same number of items back in April. Do I think it’s okay to buy that many items every month? No, I don’t. Do I think I’m still buying too many new things? Probably… But does it mean that I’m not improving or recovering from my compulsive shopping problem? In my opinion, it does not mean that.
Why not, you might ask? Because recovery is almost never a linear process in which a person makes incremental improvements day by day, month by month, until she reaches a hallowed ground state whereby she can declare herself “recovered.” No, it very rarely unfolds like that… More often than not, we take two steps forward and one step back – and sometimes it’s even two steps forward and two or three steps back. Yes, sometimes we fall back beneath what had previously become our baseline. We get to a certain point and expect to keep moving forward beyond that milestone, but we encounter a setback that has us falling back to an earlier place on the path.
If this happens, should we throw our hands up in the air, declare that all is lost, and begin shopping again with reckless abandon? No, of course not. If we are dedicated to our recovery, we take some time to reflect, learn from the experience, and recommit to moving forward once again. We may feel inclined to beat ourselves up for falling back into unproductive behavior, but in my experience, that is never helpful. Self-flagellation only serves to decrease our confidence and lead us to feel depressed and demoralized, which often sparks more of the very same behavior we just flogged ourselves for. It’s far better to forgive ourselves, internalize the lesson, and move on.
My Recovery Process
If I look at my path of recovery since starting this blog, I see lots of ups and downs. I notice periods of time when I was really strong and moving forward powerfully, and I see other timeframes when I was deeply struggling not to fall headlong back into the abyss in which I found myself at the end of 2012. But if I look at the overall trajectory, I see a lot of improvement on multiple levels. I’m buying fewer items, keeping within a yearly clothing budget, spending far less time on shopping and related pursuits, have a smaller and more workable wardrobe, and feel much more satisfied with my outfits and personal style aesthetic. These are all powerful wins in my opinion and I’m happy with how my recovery has proceeded thus far.
Of course, I wish it were happening faster, but we all proceed at our own pace. Some of you may have been able to recover far more quickly than I have, while others may be moving along the journey at a slower pace. Luckily, it’s not a race and we aren’t been timed or graded by anyone else, or at least we shouldn’t be. We should really only be measuring our progress against ourselves. Doing otherwise is a recipe for dissatisfaction and misery, and it’s not really meaningful anyway. So what if someone else is faster or slower. As long as you are making progress, that’s all that should really matter. Progress, not perfection, is the motto I like to follow…
Have I Experienced a Setback?
Now that I have said all that, let’s get back to my July purchases. In all honesty, I don’t consider my having bought eleven items last month to be a setback. Most of the items were purchased at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and I had actually planned to do a fair amount of shopping at that sale. What was a mistake, however, was my not having allocated a larger proportion of my yearly budget for that purpose so I wouldn’t end up behind the 8-ball with my spending. While I feel good about the items I purchased at NAS, I wasn’t happy with being so close to the edge of my third quarter budget just one month into that term. But I have learned from this mistake and will plan better for NAS in 2016.
I didn’t feel bad about my July shopping when all was said and done, but I do have to come clean here about my continued shopping during August. If I had just stopped shopping after NAS, it wouldn’t have been a setback, but I have persisted in buying more new items. Thus, I feel like I have taken a few steps back in my recovery. Although I can state valid reasons for buying everything I acquired and I believe it will all get worn, I have exceeded my budget and bought too many things. I shopped for emotional reasons, which is something I’m trying to get away from. The fact that I did it just underscores my need to devote more attention to developing new coping mechanisms and focusing on improving the rest of my life as much as my wardrobe.
Shopping and Avoidance
Those of us who shop compulsively are often trying to avoid painful things in our lives that we don’t want to look at or just don’t know how to fix. I feel sick, stuck, scared, overwhelmed, anxious, lonely, and a whole host of other unpleasant feelings. Turning 49 and being on the cusp of 50 has not been easy for me. I have actually been avoiding writing the birthday reflection post that I have been promising, as I know it will bring up a lot of difficult emotions. However, I also believe it will be cathartic and important for me to write that post, and I sense that many of you will resonate with what I have to say. I know I am not alone in the things I have been thinking and feeling.
There may be explanations for my overshopping behavior, but I’m not trying to absolve myself of responsibility by stating my reasons for doing what I did. I know full well that shopping won’t solve my problems. It often only creates new problems such as debt, closet excess, and guilt, while the original problems remain. Yet old habits die hard… If we don’t have positive ways of coping with our life difficulties, we will fall back on our old, maladaptive behaviors like shopping. Such habits usually don’t serve us, but they are what we know and we collapse into them like a soft, comfortable easy chair.
Why Come Clean About Overshopping Behavior
So I wasn’t necessarily relapsing in July with my eleven acquisitions, but I admit to backsliding in August. I could have waited until September to spill the beans, but I’m coming clean here today for several reasons. One, the truth almost always sets us free. If we can be accountable for our compulsive behavior instead of hiding in the shadows, it loses some of its power over us. Second, I know I’m not the only one who is struggling right now. If my honesty touches even just one of you, I’m happy to out myself here today. If even one of you sees yourself in my words, then I’m glad I decided to write this post.
Recovery is often a long process with many twists and turns. Sometimes it may feel like we are running backwards instead of walking forwards, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. It doesn’t mean that we are not on the path of recovery. Backsliding and setbacks are part of the journey and are instrumental to our learning process.
Dealing with Setbacks
If you find yourself in a setback today, here’s what I recommend:
- Acknowledge where you are, right here, right now. Tell the truth to yourself and at least one other person. There is power in honesty and opening up to someone who loves you and won’t judge you harshly.
- Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up for what you have done. Show yourself the same type of compassion you would offer to your child or a best friend.
- Internalize the lessons. Ask yourself what you can learn from the setback you have encountered. What can you do to avoid a recurrence in the future? What new coping mechanisms can you implement that will better serve you instead of overshopping? How can you better deal with the stressors and emotional challenges in your life?
- Make amends if you can. If you have spent too much money, can you possibly return some of what you bought? If you have lied about your expenditures or hid your purchases from your spouse or other loved ones, would it help you to come clean? Would telling the truth help to improve your relationships? I know it’s hard to do, but I encourage you to do it.
- Recommit to your recovery. We can’t change the past. We can only move forward. Don’t dwell on what you’ve done wrong. Look ahead and start doing the right thing again today.
I forgive myself and I hope you will do the same if you have faltered. I realize that I do not have enough positive coping mechanisms for my life. I acknowledge that I don’t have the type of support network that I need. I need to place a greater focus on improving my life than I have been. I don’t really know what I’m going to do, but I have to make some changes. I need to place a much higher focus on my life at large than I have been. I have been giving too much time and attention to things that don’t serve me and that has to shift. I need to practice better self-care and nurture my soul more. I will write more about this in future posts, but I’m setting the intention today.
Recovery isn’t a linear process. It can be messy and uncomfortable. It can look like a jagged mountain range rather than a gentle slope moving up a single hill. My recovery has been far from perfect, but I am recovering. I may never be fully recovered. I may always be a recovering shopaholic at risk of a relapse, but I know I will continue to improve because it’s important to me. And as long as I have this blog, I will always be honest with you, even if it opens me up to harsh criticism from time to time.
Compulsive shopping can often be the source of a lot of hiding and shame, but I want those who struggle to feel like they’re not alone and to have a place where they can feel understood and be heard. No matter where you are in the recovery process, there is hope for you. There is hope for all of us to trade our full closets for fuller and happier lives – no matter how long it takes.
I, too, had wondered if you were disposing of things simply to buy new things and keep the shopping cycle going. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us and putting yourself out here. We are rooting for your success and wish you the best. 50 is not bad: 50 is more accepting.
Thank you for rooting for me, Tessa. I think that there HAS been a relationship between my closet culling and shopping, but I think it happens more the other way around. Sometimes I buy too much and feel guilty about it and overwhelmed by too much stuff (I can’t believe how much I used to have…), so I purge to keep the number down and to make myself feel better. Either way, it can be a problem. I need to re-think some things for sure…
You could continue shopping and change tack a bit. It certainly works for me. Set aside, say, 200$ a month. Buy a couple of stocks. If they go up in value, at the end of the year (selling them soon invites short-term capital gains, which is silly), or more, see how much you made, then use some of the profit to buy yourself something nice. The research is interesting and fun, the outcome is good, plus you get to shop – stocks rather than stuff.
Works for me. And thanks for your honesty.
What a creative idea, Nutrivore. I remember that one of the frequent commenters here (I think it was Deby) was doing something similar and using the time she used to spend shopping on investing instead. I have been doing that with photography, but got a little off track as of late. I can see how investing could be a good transition from shopping because it’s still a type of shopping.
If this idea works for you, I think it’s great. But I get very nervous about basing shopping or similar on things beyond our control. What if the stocks go down? (See yesterday….)
Good point, frugalscholar. I don’t know if it would be wise to base one’s entire budget on the stock market, but it could be a good way to work with part of it. It makes me nervous, but I can see the merits in it, too.
Hi Debbie. Thank you for writing this post about your recovery and possible setback for August. Although I do not have any personal experience with what you are going through, I am rooting for you and your journey towards living a more satisfying life for yourself, which is something that everyone can relate to. You seem to be expressing that the shopping problem is a secondary problem that results from not wanting to deal with the larger emotional things going on in your life right now. In this context, buying 11 items in July (which I also did) seems to be looking at the small picture rather than the larger one. I find that having even one person to confide in (who will not judge you) every so often can be a great way to relieve the internal distress going on on the inside despite not having changed and/or not being able to change the hardships going on in your life. I look forward to reading about how you will be developing more positive coping mechanisms.
Thanks for your support, Margaret. Yes, I think everyone can relate to wanting a more satisfying life, but we all go about things differently. I definitely need more people to confide in and I need more reciprocal relationships, as I seem to attract needy people who take more than they give. Then I get drained and use shopping as a way to fill my internal storehouse. I obviously need better friends and better coping mechanisms. The latter will be easier for me to find than the former, I think, but I hope I will eventually be able to find both.
Debbie, this post is so honest and comes at such a good time for me. For the last several months I’ve had a couple of big and several small stressful things going on. One of the things that could have had the biggest impact on our lives is resolved and hopefully the other will be over next week. Through all of this I’ve remained strong and been a source of support for other people. It was one of the small things that did me in. A transaction that should have taken a couple of phone calls and lasted about a month has had 30-40 calls and emails and lasted 4 months. The person who I’ve been dealing with is very…challenging and has made me about lose my mind. When papers were signed and it should have been over I discovered that she had made a mistake and we may need to do it all over again. I was so stressed out and didn’t sleep well at all that night. The next day my husband and I had planned to go to the mall and buy a couple of birthday gifts for his family. I shopped for several hours and promptly forgot about everything that was bothering me and it felt GOOD. I bought some summer stuff on sale after saying that I didn’t need anything and that I was content with what I have. If I had just acknowledged that I would have been better served to find a different way to cope with stress and resolved to do better, it would probably have ended there. Instead I was very hard on myself saying things like “How stupid do you look buying stuff less than a week after you said you had enough” and “You think you’re doing so much better, but you’re not. What do you need any of this stuff for anyway?” and worse. I have not stopped shopping since. I’m sure that I’ve spend hundreds of dollars. I haven’t kept track. I think that it was Cheryl Richardson that said “No one is ever inspired to do more by being made to feel like they are less” That’s so true including when I’m the one who’s doing it. I never want to make excuses for my behavior nor do I want to help you do that Debbie. The fact is that you’re right, this IS an up and down process. It sounds silly to say that buying clothes is a problem. It’s not about the clothes though. It’s about doing something to cover up depression, anxiety, avoiding things, etc. If I said that I was guzzling gin or getting high to avoid anxiety or feel better about myself, it sounds a lot more serious doesn’t it? Been there, done that, stopped doing that. I’ve dealt with addiction almost my whole life and I know that I have made a ton of progress. I wish to continue on that path so I am going reset and know that I’m not perfect and I will make mistakes, but that I will keep trying to do better.
Thank you so much for being so open and honest, Tonya. I could really relate to everything you wrote. I think that it was a bunch of things compounded that did me in. It’s was like a house of cards that eventually collapsed around me. Too much stress for too long and eventually something had to give. You’re right that people don’t take compulsive shopping seriously. April Benson calls it the “smiled upon addiction” and it’s so true. People think it’s so easy to stop, but it can be just as difficult to overcome as all of the other compulsive problems that get a lot of press and respect. It can cause a lot of pain, anxiety, and depression, too. And this quote is SO right on and bears repeating:
“No one is ever inspired to do more by being made to feel like they are less”
That’s true of how we talk to ourselves and about some of the comments here, too. I am always diplomatic in my responses, but the truth is that I feel very deflated by what some people write. I feel attacked sometimes and it doesn’t inspire me to change. It makes me want to retreat and hide. I usually manage to rise above it, but it’s not always easy.
I have dealt with addiction for most of my life, too. Compulsive shopping has been an issue for me since my teens, but I have always had at least one or two other things going on, not all of which I’ve written about here. Like you, I have made a ton of progress, but I also want to continue on the path. I’m pushing reset, too, without guilt or beating myself up. We have both come a long way and I know we will continue to move forward. Thanks for sharing and helping me to feel less alone and less flawed. Hugs to you!
Tonya and Debbie,
I wonder if something about this season brings on a lot of stress. (The weather making people impatient maybe?) I have also been overwhelmed by stress (as have other recent commenters), especially in trying to find a new job, and I find myself just struck by the absolute need to wander in clothing stores. Even without buying, I just feel better interacting with the clothing and being in a public environment without any pressure from the other stressors in my life. Thank you both for being incredibly open and honest, with your feelings and where you feel you are with recovery. Debbie, I agree with Terra that your blog community feels so warm and safe. It is lovely that so many have come/read and are willing to share bits of their own lives.
I’m so glad this community feels warm and safe to you, Di. That has always been my intention. I wonder what it is about this time of year and overshopping. I have struggled with buying too much during the summer months all three years of the blog and August seems to be the worst month. It’s definitely something to think about. Maybe there is more stress during the summer? I know there is this year for me, but I don’t remember if that was true for previous years. There are the things I discussed in a free teleseminar with April Benson and summarized here: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/avoiding-the-3-most-common-august-shopping-mistakes/ Perhaps this is a topic I should revisit on the blog.
So many great comments in this blog!
Di and Debbie-thank you for your comments.
Misty-I’ve obviously not figured it all out judging from my comment above. However, I have had periods of no or very minimal shopping and have been okay with it. I would highly recommend Dr. April Benson’s book ‘To Buy Or Not To Buy’. It has many exercises in there to help determine why you are over shopping and good tips on how to stop and meet your needs in better ways.
Jess-Thank you for your comment. I think it would have been easy to avoid this post or lash out defensively, so I appreciate your thoughtful reply. Since you weren’t compulsively shopping for as long as some, I guess it makes sense that it would take less time to get things under control. My plan has been to cut my budget every year until I get down to 1200$ a year. I’d like to shop less, look less, return less, and overall spend less effort on clothing. For the last few years this has been working well. The past two weeks was the first time that I’ve gone on a shopping bender since last year I think. As I get comfortable with the idea and the feeling of less, I’m dealing with the crap that I’ve kept buried for years a little at a time. Honestly I don’t like this method. I want to do something grand and dramatic like not shopping for a year or I only need 20 items of clothing and will only replace if something wears out. Every time that I try something like this I have bad results. I know what works best for me and I should just stick with it. Your comments and others made me really think if I should change what I’m doing and if I’m just trying to justify shopping. I don’t think so, but I will think on it a bit longer.
I remember you did all of the exercises in “To Buy or Not to Buy,” Tonya. I did some but not all, but I found it helpful. I think I need to revisit that book since I have had a setback as of late. I think your plan is good, but I can also understand your not liking that method. You and I are very similar and the dramatic changes don’t work for me, either. I think we will eventually get to the point of not buying all that many items or only replacing things that wear out. I get frustrated at how long it’s taking me to overcome my shopping problem, but since it’s been over 3 decades that I’ve been dealing with this, having my recovery take 3 or more years is not unreasonable. Same for you… Sometimes I do think I justify shopping. It’s easy to do… Most of the time, we don’t really NEED to shop. It’s often more of a want or a coping mechanism. Shopping isn’t bad in and of itself. It’s how we do it that matters. Learning moderation is really challenging. I feel like it’s easier to just stop shopping altogether, although I am rebellious and probably wouldn’t stick with it. There is no one right way to overcome a compulsion or addiction. We have to figure out what is right for us and that often requires some trial and error.
Honesty is good, but your recovery on your own time is far more lasting. If you feel this might push you into an emotional space that you are not ready for, and that might spur unplanned shopping, then take a step back and take care of yourself. Yes, you have more road to travel, but so does everyone reading this blog otherwise we would not be here. My problem is that my real life means that I need less than project 333 suggests. I must go out of my way to wear more than 33 items in three months, but I’m not ready to face it yet. Although I have worked for years to downsize and now have about 75 pieces of out and about wear, it’s still more than I need or use. I rarely shop now, but I do buy a few pieces each year. But I could probably not buy anything other than home-wear for the next year and be fine. But I don’t want to. I feel like I’m getting closer to wanting to. But if someone were to say something to push me, it might send me in the other direction. I sincerely hope the comments you receive take you to a good place. Most of all, don’t let this blog become more important than your recovery.
Debbie I’m so glad, so happy, to see you are receiving sincere comments. I love this community you have gathered.
I appreciate your support and concern, Terra. I do struggle with the comments sometimes. I know that almost everyone means well, but there are occasionally some comments that throw me for a loop and cause me to question if I still want to put myself out there like I have been. But then I get a comment or email from someone who tells me I inspire them and I remember why I’m doing this. It’s bigger than me. My journey mirrors the path of so many other women out there, many of whom have felt alone and ashamed for far too long. I feel incredibly blessed to have been an inspiration to others and that keeps me going.
I am committed to overcoming my shopping and wardrobe challenges, as well as all of my life challenges. Growth is one of my deepest values and I want to keep growing until the day I die, even if it is hard. We all experience setbacks in life, but if we keep going, we will progress. I look at you and feel like you are so far ahead of me, but you have your challenges, too, and you see where you have space to grow despite your tremendous progress. If I am completely honest, I don’t need any more clothes than you do. Our lives are so very similar, after all. I’m sure I will come to a similar realization as you have at some point. I know I still have too much and it doesn’t help me to buy so much because then I either have to live with more than I need and am comfortable with or I have to let go of old things perhaps before I’m really ready. The best approach is to buy less and I know that. I just can’t always do it. But I will get there. I have faith and I will keep going…
This post really resonates with me. I’ve had many ups and downs since I started trying to get my shopping under control (and I too bought eleven items in July!). I think it’s difficult for someone who isn’t a compulsive shopper to understand that for those of us who are it isn’t easy to simply buy less (or nothing). It just isn’t. As you touched on in your post, there’s also the issue of what defines recovery or progress. Some may wish to reach a point where they shopping only to replace worn out items or fill a wardrobe hole, while others may be satisfied to stick to a budget or other restrictions they have set for themselves. While the former may be ideal, I know that for myself, for the time being at least, the latter is the more realistic goal.
It’s great to see you commenting here again, Kayla, and I could really identify with what you wrote. Yes, it sounds so easy to those who don’t have a compulsive shopping problem. “Just shop less,” they say. I could say the same thing to my mom who is a compulsive overeater because I don’t have that problem, but I know better. But she doesn’t know the same about me. She thinks my shopping is frivolous and not a “real problem” like hers is. Many people feel that way, unfortunately. It’s a real struggle for many of us, but we CAN overcome it if we are keep working at it. You’re right that the end goal will vary for many of us and it may shift over time for us individually. Sticking to a budget is equally worthy a goal as shopping only to replace worn out items. I couldn’t stick to a budget for decades until the past two years. I still struggle with it, but I hope to meet my annual goal even if I’m struggling with my quarterly targets. Thanks for sharing your perspective and I hope you continue to make progress toward your goals.
OMG, your posts totally resonate with me. Quite simply, I absolutely LOVE to shop. I, too, temporarily forget my problems, challenges and stressors. I run in a crowd in Houston who really care about wearing the latest styles and high-quality (read: high dollar) attire. I am decidedly middle-class and have a special-needs child who recently began a new therapy that costs close to $2,500/month. I simply can’t afford to spend what I used to. My husband sacrifices continually, yet I’m spending time weekly at places like Kate Spade, Burberry, Donald Pliner, and Lucky. Much of my life revolves around when I get to The Galleria to “look around.” It makes me unhappy.
I feel for you about your special needs child, DuncMom. That must be very challenging for you to deal with. I’m glad my posts resonate with you. Shopping can be so compelling, but any happiness it provides is typically very short-lived. Then we often feel that much worse about ourselves for losing control, overspending, or just having too many clothes, shoes, and accessories in our closets. It must be difficult for you to continually feel like you need to measure up to your peer group. I don’t have that issue specifically. My issue is that I don’t have a peer group and I shop because I’m lonely and anxious. I also have low self-esteem and think that if I look good enough, I will feel better about myself. That was a primary driver behind my eating disorders, too. But it’s a losing battle because the styles keep changing and we keep getting older. My shopping worsened in my 40’s, partly due to appearance-related anxiety. I am trying to learn to value myself for more than what I look like. If I can’t figure that out, I will be a mess in my 50’s and beyond.
Yet again, you nailed it Debbie: I am trying to “live up to the Jones’.” In my social group, most of the Jones’ have more disposable income, particularly given the expenses surrounding my child. I was depressed last week, so within two days, I spent my budget for the last half of this month. And I’ve begun my typical cycle of “I can’t wait till the first of next month” to have the freedom to spend again. You’d think I’d learn after years of living this way. I feel terrible and so want to change.
Debbie for what it’s worth I think you are striking a good balance with your self-examination these days. Careful to consider everything but not so hard on yourself as you used to be.
You make a good point about having a support network. I’m currently recovering from surgery and my family is not being as supportive as I expected. It can make things much more difficult and I think any critics should take note.
I think we should also be aware that people have different shopping styles- some slow and steady, and some in “bursts.” So you really have to look at the whole year overall, and not judge based on a single month.
I’m glad to see you commenting here, Sarah, and I’m happy to read that you are recovering from your surgery. I’m sorry, however, that your family isn’t being as supportive as you had hoped. I have experienced the same thing with my health challenges – not a lot of support. I’m lucky to have my husband’s support because others aren’t really there for me. I hope that you have some supportive friends to fill in the gap…. You’re right about shopping style and not really being able to judge at a single point in time. I hope that when I look back at my 2015 shopping as a whole, I see good progress over 2014. I still have a third of the year left and a lot can happen in that time frame. I haven’t done as well as I’d hoped, but there is still time…
Your blog touches more people then you probably realize. There are a lot of us getting encouragement and inspiration from you. We are fighting the same fight you are. Life is a journey and the lessons learnt along the way are just as important as the destination. Yay for those of us that can do it easily but there are a lot of us that can’t. I get discouraged when I buy things I don’t need or look at my full wardrobe that needs culling. But I am learning lessons as I go and your blog has opened up my way of thinking. Don’t under estimate the progress you have made or helped other people like me make. Big hugs from another (Recovering) overshopper.
Your comment meant a lot to me, Di. Thank you. I know there are many others out there fighting the same fight and that keeps me going. I know that if I open up about how I have faltered, there will be a lot of readers out there who are right there along with me, even if I don’t know who they are or hear from them. I know that most people will never comment or email me but they are out there. I feel very blessed to be able to touch, encourage, and inspire people. I’m glad my blog has helps to open your way of thinking. I appreciate your acknowledging my progress and I send you virtual hugs right back!
I’ve recently started following your blog, but have been in recovery for other addictions for almost 8 years. While I’ve just started to get a handle on my shopping and finances, I can really relate to what you’re going through right now. It’s tough when someone questions your intentions and integrity. I too feel that the comment was intended to be a little nasty, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all learn from it. After all, you did create this blog to become accountable!
This is a good time to really re-evaluate your intentions and re-commit to your goals. Like you said, recovery is not a straight line and what counts is that you continually strive to do better. While I have been in recovery for substance abuse and sober for 8 years, there have definitely been moments where I have acted out in other ways. For me, shopping and overspending have been defects I haven’t been ready to address until now. Since shopping is your primary addiction and you’ve already been working on this issue for a couple years, I would suggest you try a period of abstinence. I know that you can’t just quit shopping permanently like with other addictions, but perhaps attempting to abstain for a set period of time will bring you newfound inspiration and help illuminate whatever underlying issues lead you to overshop. It’s something to think about!
Whatever you do, just know that you have helped a lot of people! Your blog has helped me so much the past couple weeks. I’ve purged diligently, and now my working wardrobe contains 201 items including shoes, and another 33 items I haven’t been able to let go of yet. I hope to get down to 100 one day. Reading your blog and taking the time to inventory my belongings has really helped shift my focus from wanting more to appreciating what I have. I find myself checking your blog instead of shopping sites and fashion blogs which has been a huge shift for me. I’m so grateful! Another thing that has really helped is the budgeting software YNAB, because now I can’t avoid reality.
Anyway, thanks so much for being here!
Thank you for your comment, C. I’m glad my blog has been helpful to you. How wonderful that you are checking my blog instead of shopping sites and fashion blogs! Others have mentioned YNAB software . I haven’t checked it out yet, but perhaps I should… I have done periods of abstinence from shopping in the past, but that hasn’t been very effective for me. I have a very rebellious nature and when I’m told I can’t do something, I usually want to do it that much more. I tend to “white knuckle” it through my period of abstinence and then “binge” on shopping afterwards. Instead of having total off times and total on times, I’ve been working on learning moderation. I have been more successful with that some months than others, but my general trend has been down. I used to buy SO much more and spend so much more time, attention, and money on shopping that I do now. I know I am making progress even if I have ups and downs. What I really think I need to do now is devote more of my energy toward improving the areas of my life that are broken. I have been focusing most of my energy on my health, but I haven’t seen much improvement and have actually gotten worse in some respects. I will continue to place a lot of attention there, but I can’t keep waiting until I’m healthy to have a better life. I shop too much because my life is small and I’m lonely and frustrated, among other things. Rather than work more on the shopping issue, I believe I need to defocus on that and shine a brighter light on the issues I have been avoiding by shopping. If I do that, I believe I will naturally shop less without having to declare a shopping moratorium. Shopping bans or hiatuses can work great for some people, like Jill Chivers, who I respect and adore. I just know myself and I am choosing to go at this from a different angle…
I forgot to mention prayer and meditation. That’s pretty much the cornerstone of every 12 step program. While I’m not religious by any means, I have become spiritual. Although Im not very disciplined about my practice of prayer, when I do remember to pray for freedom of fear, strength and whatever else I need I always feel better and act more reasonably.
I even pray with my husband sometimes, and it really brings us closer together. That and sharing goals with our YNAB budget has really helped curb spending as well. (I know I’m obsessed with my YNAB budget!! Check out their website!) While I know you’re not in debt, maybe setting a financial goal for a vacation together could be additional motivation.
I haven’t gone through your whole blog yet, so I’m not sure if you’ve discussed spirituality before. But I know I always benefit from a reminder!
Have a good day
Good point about prayer and meditation, C. I think I would be well-served to integrate both more fully in my life. I do pray, but I rarely pray for myself and never about my shopping problem. Sometimes I pray about my health challenges and for strength and freedom from fear. I am definitely more spiritual than religious at this point in my life, although I am open to religion as well. I don’t think I have discussed spirituality much in my blog post, but I know I have written about it in respond to comments from time to time. I used to write more about spirituality on a previous blog and you can see some of my old articles on my personal site: http://debbieroes.com/archive/
I think it’s great that you and your husband pray together and share budget goals. My husband and I review our budget regularly, but he is not one to pray, as he’s pretty agnostic. I wish he would be more interested in spiritual things, but he may be open to doing meditation. I don’t know why I resist meditation so much, as I know it would be good for me – and it could help my health as well as my psyche.
Your post has helped me today, Debbie.
I’ve been on a shopping spree since sales started in July. I’ve picked up quite a few new pieces, most on a whim, even though I know I will wear them all; because I make far better choices these days. I didn’t need so many tops…..but I found designs I loved online and bought them all….
I have been shopping every month, as planned. A few well-chosen additions….so it’s not like I needed to buy more. Every time I buy something, I think ,”This would be the last. All my wardrobe holes are filled now. I don’t need to shop anymore”. Yet….it happens again.
I had a few really good months in between when I bought NOTHING at all. But I forgive myself today. I know I’m not alone. And I don’t have to hide my guilt…it only makes me anxious, and hence makes me want to shop more. Thank you for writing this post, Debbie. It’s helped me. I understand now that recovery isn’t a linear process. It’s OK to fall off…to falter….to make mistakes. Rome wasn’t built in a day….and a lifetime of giving into temptation and shopping mindlessly can’t be cured without challenges….
I’m glad this post helped you, Maneera. I could identify with what you wrote. I am making far better choices now, too, and I believe I will wear everything I bought. But I don’t need as many clothes as I have and because I have so many, most things don’t get worn as much as I ideally want. Logic doesn’t play into it a lot of times. It’s called compulsive shopping for a reason… I am not nearly as compulsive as I used to be, but my emotions are still running the show more than I would ideally like. But yes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. We can falter and get right back on the horse again. We can learn from our setbacks without guilt and shame. The guilt and shame only make me want to shop more, and I know that’s true for others as well. Recovery isn’t linear, but it IS possible and we will make it.
I’m sorry for the harsh tone of the critical comment on your previous post. I hope this doesn’t inhibit your willingness to post such honest observations about your shopping habits in the future . I find them immensely informative, and I appreciate you taking the time and effort to chronicle your journey. I was struck, too, by how similar your battle against shopping compulsion is to mine of overeating. Non-linear recovery, indeed! Boy, I can identify! I suppose all compulsive behaviors share similar features, which I hadn’t considered before reading this. I found your tips on dealing with setbacks so useful to apply to my own situation, so again, thanks!
I plan to continue being as honest as I’ve always been, Elaine, even if it’s hard sometimes. I do it because I know that my honesty helps others to be more honest with themselves. I also know that the truth, even if it’s very uncomfortable, is what sets up free. I’m so glad that my tips for dealing with setbacks are helpful for your overeating issues, too. I definitely feel that there is common ground among all compulsive behaviors. I was anorexic and bulimic for years and that was my primary issue for a very long time. I also had other compulsive behavior issues with which I struggled. Beating ourselves us and feeling guilt and shame will never help us to heal. I’ve been there done that over and over and I only got worse instead of better. We need to show ourselves a lot more compassion on our road to recovery.
Do you think the August setback may be connected to the July shopping at NAS? I have found in my own shopping patterns that even a planned for, budgeted for shopping spree tends to be followed by an aftershock–a little more shopping that I did not want or plan for. I believe I just get carried away by the euphoria of the initial shopping and it is very hard to put the brakes on it. Especially if the planned shopping spree involves researching items and stores, because that invariably exposes me to new items/stores that wouldn’t otherwise have been on my radar. I am not sure what to do with this information other than be aware of the tendency to experience an aftershock and try to shore up my defenses to prevent or contain the damage.
I to wondered the sales shopping connection.We can be such habitual creatures, I have noticed that when I get into the shopping mode, it’s always in the autumn and although I don’t over buy I do spend more time shopping and I do notice that I kind of crave it when the season is over. But of course everyone is different and this observation may not be true for anyone else…
Yes Mary! I have wondered why people who are struggling with over shopping/over spending keep putting themselves on a path to failure by going to sales and special events and spending time browsing for stuff. Of course we’re going to find new things to covet! Just stop!Don’t we feel like we’re at the total mercy of the retailers and the fashion industry altogether ? Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE clothes and Fashion, but….those things exist to serve ME . The idea that shopping for clothes and the size and content of my closet could CONSUME my thoughts, ruin my budget and credit….and worse consume funds for things my loved ones might need (including planning for the future) is just wrong
Yes, I do feel that shopping at NAS was like turning a buying faucet on that I wasn’t able to turn off when that sale ended. I got caught up in the whole experience and then it wasn’t easy for me to just go back to how I was before. That was part of it, plus I was dealing with some stressful situations in my life and a difficult birthday and I don’t have much support in my life at all. That all added up to my not being able to stop shopping when I should have. I do think that having awareness of our tendencies can help us to develop better coping strategies. I don’t think we need to avoid all sales. I have tried that and I got a false sense of security. I would stay away from the stores and then believe that I had my shopping problem licked. I didn’t… I just had a reprieve from it for a while, mostly while paying down credit card debt. I mostly avoid sales shopping, but I do enjoy the NAS and want to continue doing so. I think we can get to the place where WE are in control of the sales rather than the other way around like Gloria said. I think I did well with NAS, but then a perfect storm of life stuff sent me into a shopping tailspin. It really hasn’t been THAT bad because I have learned some things. I didn’t go completely off the rails, but I did shop more than I wanted to. I am learning from this and perhaps it needed to happen for me to see how much I need to change my life. I can be grateful for the setback and what it’s teaching me instead of ashamed…
I really appreciate and applaud your strategy here, Debbie. I think it’s far more realistic that not shopping sales. I have tried to stay away from sales too in the past…..not much help. I keep telling myself ‘I am worth full price’ but I think it’s silly to buy full price when I can buy cheaper at sales….just because I may falter. What happened in my case wasn’t much of emotion upheaval….my personal style is in the process of evolving so my wardrobe can better serve my real life, while I wear clothes that are still true to my personality and sense of aesthetics. This was the main reason for over-buying….simply because I did discover too many wardrobe holes. But that’s the whole point of living fashion…..your style evolves and you grow out of trends/ideas. All my choices were very good choices…..it’s just that I have bought more than I would like to, because everything was cheaper. I haven’t exceeded my budget or anything…..but I have a lot of new clothes, shoes and scarves this season.
I’m considering a ‘Shop Your Closet’ phase until winters arrive. I may have to make a few changes in my winter wardrobe too….
Thanks, Maneera. When we are re-vamping/evolving our personal style, it is natural to buy more. That has been a big part of my buying more this year, too, but like you, I have bought more than I would like to or than I really need. As a result, my closet feels too full yet again. I think having a person of “Shop Your Closet” can be very helpful. That’s actually a better way to frame it than to say you’re doing a shopping ban. One blogger (Lisa of Shopping Brake) even called her unworn clothing pieces “the boutique,” which reframes things to increase excitement about re-visiting what we have. We often have a lot of great pieces we aren’t really utilizing and we would be well-served to focus there instead of looking outside for what is next. I wish you the best of luck and I hope you report back on how your “Shop Your Closet” phase is going (if you decide to take that on).
I really appreciate this post, I am also struggling. I do not consider myself in recovery as I have not reduced my spending even a little bit. If I were in a 12 step I would still be on step one. I am becoming more aware of what I am doing and the emotional motivations involved, I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday that was hard to acknowledge. Of course, I promptly purchased two things this morning on an impulse. That burned up what was left of my September budget. So I am going to do the five things you listed and attempt to abstain. I don’t know how long, I think maybe one day at a time. If you want to join me great, if not, I understand.
Thank you for your honesty, Misty, and congratulations on your epiphany. I commend you on your self-awareness and your commitment to change. I’m glad you are going to take on my steps for overcoming a setback. I like Terra’s abstinence plan. I tend to do the same thing as she described – buying too many clothes for my “out and about” life when I already have more than enough there. Any buying I do should really be focused on my home-wear, as that is where I spend most of my time. Great plan, Terra, and I can sign on for that!
I will join you Misty and abstain from buying “smart causal out-and-about clothing,” and take it one day at a time, and see how long I can make it. I simply do not need any more clothing in this category. Each time I buy something new in this category I tell myself all of the smart-casual wardrobe holes are filled now, and I don’t need anything else, and then the next month I begin to want something else, and begin to save and plan and long for it. I need to stop this behavior cycle. It would be far wiser for me to save that money and use it later when something truly does need to be updated or to add something special to my wardrobe later, in 3 months or 6 months, or in a year, but not now! However, I’m not abstaining from all buying because that’s not my weakness and I almost never over-spend in other areas such as home-wear and that’s a category where I ought to be focusing on since it is the clothes I wear most often! BUT.. I need to rein myself in and not buy more of the type of clothing I would wear to work, or for social occasions away from home. OK, I’m in. Anyone else?
Smart-casual-out-and-about… I know that category too well, it describes most of my wardrobe. Welcome! I’ll make the coffee.
I replied about this above, Terra. You and I are in much the same place. I don’t need more smart casual out and about clothing. Those types of things are more fun to buy, but they aren’t what I need. Meanwhile, I get frustrated with my home and workout clothes. Awhile back, I committed to focus more there, but I haven’t done well enough. If I abstain from buying out and about clothes but still allow myself to do some targeted shopping for what I really need, I will have a greater chance of success than just doing an out and out shopping ban. Great idea, Terra! As an aside, I really wish I could have coffee with the two of you. It was so wonderful to be able to meet Terra in person, as well as a few others, but I wish I could meet all of you!
Debbie, as you know from the guest post I wrote (The Clothes We Wear at Home) for the past few years I’ve been very successful in maintaining a larger portion of my wardrobe for clothing worn at home and the reason I feel I have slacked off in this area lately is because of health challenges I’m facing, and this past year instead of buying/replacing items I really need to wear at home, I imagined myself in a different life space (a dreamy space where I am younger, stronger and spend much time to-ing and fro-ing, far more than I do in my real life, or want to be doing actually) and I slipped back into buying clothing for my imagined life. Doesn’t matter that I was only buying a few pieces here and there and it’s all clothes I do wear, the point is that I was over-shopping in this one area and ignoring my true needs. Then yesterday afternoon I crash landed in my real life, which is a nice life, filled with good things, even though I have health challenges. I’ve been lost in my own “Year of Magical Thinking.” And now I’m back, and it feels good to be home!
Debbie – I appreciate, once again, your total honesty. I have been struggling lately. Last weekend, I was “sick of everything” and wanted to “buy a whole new wardrobe.” Fortunately, I stopped and asked myself what I was really feeling. I was physically tired from school starting. I was bored with the same old clothing combinations. I was weary of the heat. I was frustrated because I can’t find comfortable leopard flats that I “have to have.” Once I realized what I was really feeling, I felt better.
So instead of shopping, I decided to take on your LIWI challenge. I have only been doing it for 5 days, but already I feel better. Instead of looking at my clothes and feeling bored or telling myself I have nothing to wear, I am asking myself, what do I love. To me this is a great extension of the KonMari method I did over spring break to purge my closet. Now, it is what sparks joy today. That’s what I am going to wear!
I have been involved in 12 step groups and one thing I’ve learned that I rely on when I am feeling stressed, unhappy, depressed, and/or anxious is HALT. Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? It forces me to check in with my body and my emotions. Sometimes you have to act and sometimes you just have to wait until the icky feelings pass. But I am slowly learning to tune in and not zone out shopping.
I appreciate your willingness to share your journey. It is true that the road is seldom straight. But thankfully we don’t have to go it alone!
I commend you, Anne, for taking a step back and evaluating what was really going on with you instead of diving into shopping. I am familiar with HALT but I haven’t been applying it as well as I should. I am good at dealing with my hunger appropriately, but I don’t do so well with angry (don’t let myself feel it), lonely (feel it too often but don’t do much to change it) and tired (well it’s almost 1 am now, so you know the answer to that one!). I need to do much better at dealing with my feelings, that’s for sure. I’m so glad you are taking on LIWI and that you’re seeing results after only 5 days! LIWI has helped me a lot, but now that I’m in my 8th month of it, I need to take it to the next level. I am giving that some thought and will write about it soon. I think I can get even more out of it than I have thus far with a little tweaking. Stay tuned and best wishes to you!
I didn’t realize there was already an Anne commenting here! Cheers. 🙂 I’ll find a pseudonym for future comments.
Debbie, I am very impressed by how you reacted to this critical comment–by using it as an opportunity instead of letting it get you down. I appreciate your honest sharing and can really relate to what you said in this post. Congratulations on how far you’ve come, and also on “catching” your possible slide back into negative behavior and dealing with it in a positive fashion. It’s very inspiring.
Thank you, Karin. I try to learn from all of the feedback I receive. Sometimes I have to take a few steps back and wait a bit to respond, but I try to believe that all who comment have positive intent and truly want to help even if the way they express things isn’t always kind. I’m very happy to be inspiring readers and I appreciate your praise of me and my blog.
Hello! I have been following your story for a while, and today is my first comment.
I think you have a very large wardrobe even after the purging and reorganization. What would happen if you just stopped shopping….stopped browsing for clothes online….stopped going to sales….. What would happen if you wore the clothes you have now, shopping your own closet?
You seem to have so much already, but you are always thinking about getting more ,filling in perceived needs that aren’t really needs but are wants. You seem to think about clothes all the time and write thousands of words about them. What would happen if you just stopped? It seems like you are going round and round on a merry-go-round. How about a year with no clothes shopping….how about 6 months? No one would notice because you already have SO MUCH!
Welcome, Gloria, and thanks for your comment. I agree that I still have a large wardrobe and more than I really need for my life. Shopping my closet is what I’ve been trying to do with my LIWI challenge, but I have still been buying too much overall. I addressed the issue of a shopping hiatus in response to C’s comment above, so I won’t repeat myself here. In regards to my thinking about clothes all the time, that isn’t really true. I actually have been focusing on other things much more this year, but not all of what I’ve been involved with has been good for me. A lot of the time and energy I spend focusing on clothes is for the blog, as it does take me a long time to write my posts. But if they help people, I am all for taking the time. Even so, I do think it would benefit me to buy less and shop my closet. I’m going to think of some ways I can do that and write interesting posts that will benefit others. If the time and attention I spend on writing the blog can best serve both me and others, that will be a win, win.
Gloria’s comment is true for most of us I think–I’m sure many of us could go months if not years without shopping and still have the clothes we technically need for our lifestyle. But that seems to miss the point. This is a compulsive shopping blog precisely because the shopping is excessive and unnecessary. That’s why it’s a problem. It’s easy to be on the outside looking in and tell someone “Well you have plenty, just stop buying until you actually need something!” It’s not that easy when you are the person with the problem. Maybe this goes back to what Debbie said in a comment reply above about the “smiled-upon addiction,” that it’s just hard to get people to take overshopping seriously.
(I posted as Anne way above but then saw there is already an Anne here, so I will be Annie unless there is an Annie too!)
Well put, Annie. If stopping shopping was that easy I’m sure Debbie would have done it long ago and there would be no need for this blog!
As well as for the rest of us. I try and give up clothes shopping for Lent every year and feel I’m going through withdrawal. Most years, I’m unsuccessful and then ask myself what that says about my faith.
Oh, no! DuncMom, please don’t worry about what that says about your faith… That is between you and your Higher Power. Faith isn’t a tool to use for your own ends, rather it is a gift to be cherished. It sounds like you have lots of other stresses in your world, and that shopping is your self-care strategy. (Even if it is not working so well…) It may very well be that this blog is the place that you can find the hands that lift you when you are sinking! I will be lifting you up in prayer.
Liz, you will be in my gratitude journal (which I just initiated) tonight as I deeply appreciate your thoughts. I really struggle with this on a spiritual level (it may be Catholic guilt!) and want to free myself from this shame which often leads to the very actions I’m concerned about. My therapist – who often counsels special-needs parents like me – also suggested expanding my self-care strategies. But in a shopping-oriented city like Houston with designer stores and amazingly stocked Nordstrom Racks, Off 5th, and even Marshall’s and TJ Maxx stores. And yes, I’m the parent of a special-needs child (wonderful 12-year-old son named Duncan) which has its own set of emotional challenges. Whew…just writing this makes me want to SHOP! 😉
I’m scheduled for Adoration this evening… You and yours will be lifted up!
I completely agree with Annie. I feel Gloria is missing the point of this whole post…..
Debbie, I saw the comment in the previous post. All I thought was: is this a troll? It was not just the comment about the amount of items you bought, but also about the smell of your new denim jacket. Please do not let negative comments get you down. People just read 1 or 2 posts and leave a comment. They do not know the entire story. I have been following you for a very long time and you are making serious progress. Big hug!
Gloria is saying what I have been thinking about myself lately. I have more than I need, so why am I still shopping? I have been abstaining for all of a day now and already I can tell this is not going to be easy. I feel anxious, I don’t know why. So 6 months or a year seem really far away. Instead I am focusing on today. Longer seems overwhelming and doomed to failure. I am not where Debbie is, as she has done project 333 and other exercises in control. She is attempting to find balance in her shopping and that is really hard. There should be a happy medium between abstaining and compulsion. For those of you that have figured it out, please share it with the rest of us.
Hmmm….identify a real need before shopping and then address that real need only? Then reward yourself with a low-calorie , healthy refreshment? How about something that takes care of your body a pedicure? Feeling anxious……well…how about going for a walk if not a bike ride, a hike….a swim.. paint something…clean up something….think of something you can do for your significant other…or a person in your household who could use a little extra attention. Read for pleasure….or knowledge. Upgrade the meals prepared at home….put more attention towards the things that REALLY MATTER, that make everyday life better for yourself and those that matter to you. You notice I didn’t mention the usual “join this join that….volunteer….whatever. That isn’t always easy for people to do and not everyone is a joiner…..but everyone has a place where they live and/or people they live with/near.Focus on your immediate life and REAL NEED. Excess clothing and “retail therapy” benefits no one accept the retailer. The retailer DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU !…or your family.
I like clothes. I have s reasonable smallish wardrobe. It SERVES ME. I do not serve the clothes or the retail industry. Shopping should be a MINOR pleasure…not a main focus. Our brains are made for more than this…..and this leads me to you, Deb. You seem very intelligent and extra sensitive…and you want to help others….and express yourself…you’re a great writer…keep writing! But write about something else. Think about something else…focus your energy elsewhere. What you’re doing is akin to an alcoholic writing a blog comparing liquor brands or reviewing bars. Start a new blog about something else…or focus on fiction..popular culture..essays. You are a great writer with a tremendous attention to detail. I would be right there as a reader as I’m sure we all would be.
This blog…this topic…the way you a doing this is skirting recovery. You stated that recovery is not a straight path…well, first you have to get on the path. Is this really a path? You’ve been thinking about this approach for THREE YEARS of your life…and besides one major closet reduction…seem to be stuck now. Time for something new!
to add to this – the blog has become an outlet for people who come and vent and write long comments about about what they purchased, why they purchased, how bad they feel about themselves, how they have some deeper issues, and that justifies the whole shopping habit… But at the end of the day it is me who is making the decision to shop, to press the button, to drive to the mall. I was really happy to read Debbie’s August 4th blog about NAS marketing and FOMO, but then after that came this whole July accountability post and more revelation about August purchases… seemed a bit hypocritical to me – “do what preacher says, not what he does” – kind of feeling… I will shut up now. sorry and the best of luck to you, Debbie.
Misty, let’s not think that far ahead, just one day at a time. Like you I have felt anxiety. But then I realized the anxiety comes when I get ahead of myself, and start worrying about the future and then I slip into my scarcity mindset and focus on lack instead of enjoying what I have. So let’s keep reminding ourselves just one day at a time.
Yes, thank you, that’s exactly it Terra. It’s good to hear from someone who gets it. Gloria seems to think I over shop because I have too much time on my hands or because I focus on the wrong things. LOL. My over shopping is online via phone in 5 minute increments between clients at my ridiculously stressful yet very rewarding full time job. I don’t shop in stores, I am raising several children tag-team with a husband who works nights and weekends. What I lack is time to spend on me, so I substitute shopping to give me the lift I crave. (And a pedicure is just like shopping: spending money on something I don’t need with time I don’t have). BTW, I made through day one of abstaining. I deleted all my shopping apps and unsubscribed from all retail emails. I even unfollowed all fashion blogs. These are all suggestions I found on this blog and others dedicated to shopping addiction or minimalism. I don’t read it for fashion advice, I am looking for others with similar challenges who are succeeding.
Misty, Yay! You have completed the first step, and you are on your way to a good place. A few years back I shopped way too much too. Although I was never in debt, never spent over my budget, but the end result meant that I had ways too many clothes. My co-workers where I worked (in an office that required a high polished professional look) shopped all the time too, my friends shopped, and so did my husband. It never occurred to us not too. Then one morning my husband, and I both looked into our closet and we said, “What have we done, we have too much!” We began cutting way, way back on shopping and kept it to a minimum, along with and editing down our very large wardrobes, and we kept only the things we loved. Today I have a small wardrobe, yet now that I work from home I don’t need much at all. So I must cut back a bit more. I’m glad I’m joining you in this “one-day-at-a-time” retreat.
Your blog is “Recovering shopaholic” not recovered shopaholic. It’s active verb.
You are a very brave lady – nobody can take that away from you.
Buying well selected items at good price – I call it savvy!
I figure you love clothes – and you are looking great! I am pleased you are experimenting with different style, there is always a risk that it will challenge our comfort zones. At 67 I still experiment and I hope I will continue doing it in my 90’s.
As for some people being judgmental – including me, well, live and let live.
You are right on, Helen. Yes, it IS an active verb – recovering. It’s certainly not easy, but it’s a worthwhile pursuit. Yes, I love clothes and I have been doing style experimentation. I hope to be doing that when I’m 67 and in my 90’s, too. We can all be judgmental sometimes. It’s human nature and I do it, too. We are all on our own journey and while we can look at someone else and think we would do things differently, maybe they need to slip and fall along the way to get the lessons they truly need. I falter and have lots of ups and downs, but I don’t give up. I am committed to my recovery. I very much appreciate your calling me brave. I never used to think of myself that way at all, but maybe this blog has changed that…
Afraid not. You are not recovering… or on a path of recovery. You are playing at, in, around your idea of how you can say you are trying…but still keep your hand in the shopping, browsing, spending game. It dangerous to other people with other types of addictions reading this philosophy of ” I can have a drink….just go check out the new bar down the street…keep exposing myself to my known triggers…and keep telling myself and others that I am in recovery or on a winding up and down path…. my understanding is that one is working a true recovery program or not.
Seems you are very black and white on this issue. Life is rarely black and white. There is value in harm reduction when discussing addictions. Buying half as much clothing as previously is progress. Drinking half as much as in the past is progress. Not every one with a problem is one drink away from complete skid row blackout bottom, nor one shirt away from spending their mortgage payment on a fall wardrobe. My two cents. And Helen has a great point about judgements.
No, it’s just that I think true and total honesty with oneself is the key to any real breakthrough, no matter what a person’s issue might be.
There is a tendency in all of us to justify our actions and even our failures….when we are not serious or truly ready to make real changes. It’s just human nature. Also not saying people are “good” or “bad”…..smart or not, worthy or unworthy… As i said before, we all all human beings and we experience all the conditions that being alive include. It’s about intent.
What is our true intention?
wow! hello everybody. it is me and my comment. First of all, I sincerely apologize Debbie if my comment offended you in any way, but I think sometimes things just need to be said and there is no way of sugar-coating them. I have been following your blog since you first started writing it, so I know all about your struggles, victories, lapses. I have been on this journey with you. It took me much less time to recover. I don’t know how that moment came – it started out with flash sale sites in 2010 and spiraled down from there. Thankfully, I realized I had a problem sooner (2 years into it) and started looking online if other people were dealing with the same issues and came across your blog in 2013. You helped me tremendously and I am truly grateful to you. I should not have been so harsh and straightforward, but I sensed that many people felt the same way, had the same thought, but were putting different words. You say you are doing it for us, to help us, but I think at some point it should become about you, about your habit, about what is good for you. All I could think of are those blogs who try to deal with less shopping, but feel pressured to shop for the content and it just creates a never ending circle (grechen’s closet comes to mind (love her/the blog dearly!)). Maybe you should take a brake from blogging – not write 1 month, 2 months, more? And then see how you are doing?
As for the “smelly” jacket – great if you got rid of the smell. But the fact that it had the smell might stay in your head and you might end up not reaching for it that often. just a thought…
Sorry, Debbie, for giving you a headache, but the end result wasn’t that bad, I think. And always thank you for your honesty.
FWIW, I went back to find your original comment and read it in context after Debbie made this post. I didn’t feel it was all that harsh, but I do think it glossed over a key point in the way Gloria’s comments to this post have: You said that Debbie doesn’t need any more clothing, so she should just stop shopping. That’s kind of a facile and unconstructive comment that doesn’t recognize that the entire issue is that the person buys even in the absence of a need.
I completely agree with this though: “All I could think of are those blogs who try to deal with less shopping, but feel pressured to shop for the content and it just creates a never ending circle” – I have seen this on the blog you mention and others, and I do think that this is a concern with blogging more generally. Debbie, I wonder if you’ve given thought to opening up a Facebook group or discussion forum to complement this blog? Then you could still reach out to people and give them an outlet to share their thoughts and struggles, but you would not be at the center of every discussion the way you necessarily are on a personal blog. That might allow you a little breathing space, and it would lessen the number of stinging comments that are about you personally.
I’m not sure how my comments were stinging or even personal. I thought they were PRACTICAL, and directed at everyone who reads this blog and comments upon their overshopping while admitting to putting themselves in harms way by purposely going to sales,etc. when they know that is their trigger. I guess that truly is the essence of an addiction.
To me, going shopping aimlessly…if you overshop….is like going into a bar if you have a problem with alcohol just to check on how things are….you know, the atmosphere, and so on.
I think I do see that over shopping is a real addiction because I do take those triggers seriously…..it’s serious enough to AVOID TRIGGERS.
Why do I care so much about this? My mother raided my college funds to shop. It changed my life. My mother mismanaged the budget so that household repairs went undone and groceries in the house were not replenished in a timely manner. This affected me and my siblings in a negative way that is some ways is is still with us today even though we are all adults with families of our own.
In closing, I’d like to mention a blog post I really like from The Nife En L’Air….”A Quest For Meaning” (Aug 20 2015) and the blog, The Privileged Addict. This blog deals primarily with drug/alcohol addictions , but could easily apply here as well. The thoughts in this blog are that you are working the program….or you’re not. You have to decide to take control and do what you need to do to accomplish this…..or you’re really just playing with the idea of recovery.
Gloria, that was a huge wake-up call for me – a possibility of wasting my kids’ college fund. Plus, realization of how hard my husband works to earn that money and how I had been wasting my time shopping, finding the next best thing, instead of concentrating on finishing my dissertation. But I look at it now as an experience – I had to go through that all (piles of packages and boxes every day, cheap flash sale finds, shoes, etc.) in order to come to this place.
P.S. The Nife En L’Air is also the blog that I read from time to time which also helped me to get my habit under control…
I kind of switched gears there at the end. When I mentioned stinging/personal comments, I wasn’t talking about your comments–that was more a reply to some of what Debbie mentioned in her post and her other replies that she sometimes takes comments (in general) very personally.
I appreciate your giving a little more background on your relationship to shopping addiction. It helps put your comments in context, and it’s helpful to get the perspective of someone who was harmed by a loved one’s compulsive shopping. With that said, I still think there are ways to offer that perspective that are constructive and recognize that there is no quick fix to this problem.
I think it is ok if Debbie takes comments personally. It is personal. Its a personal thing to waste money…and in the case of some situations….take food out of your children’s mouths (my childhood) paycheck to paycheck living, no emergency funds,constant arguing between parents, eventual divorce….children emotionally and sometimes physically damaged (my childhood again).
These things might not apply to you Debbie, but you are married. You have said your husband is patient and supportive of your efforts. I do think, in his heart of hearts, he probably would rather not spend your hard-earned joint funds on women’s clothing and shoes. I bet he would LOVE to plan and save for wonderful travel experiences with YOU. Perhaps he dreams of being debt-free. Investing in a fully funded retirement….being able to realize a few of his dreams someday ! Do you love your important other/partner more than clothes and shoes ? Is the fulfillment of you loved ones highest capacity ( including your own) important to you?
Deb is writing a very personal honest account. I think I pay her no respect by being anything less that honest and truthful from the perspective I bring to the subject. I am not helpful by patting her on the back and saying “good job so far!” I truly hope Deb and all the readers who are struggling with compulsive spending consider, at least, the family welfare- oriented remarks I have contributed…..personally.
I will just link to and quote from a short article on this subject.
“A shopping addiction is not a disease of intellect; it’s a disease of emotion. Unfortunately, most family members, along with mental health and financial “experts,” make things worse by focusing on the two areas that usually lead to even more shopping: shame and logic. What’s wrong with you?! Don’t you know better? How can you be so self-centered and selfish? Trying to use logic — if you spend too much, you won’t have money to make the car payment — tends to be just as ineffective. Such “cures” don’t work. Shopaholics already feel badly about themselves, and they already know they can’t afford it. Criticism often leads to people feeling even more socially isolated, which they “treat” by shopping.”
“Excessive shopping doesn’t serve a functional purpose — you probably don’t need 15 purses — it serves a psychological purpose by meeting an unfilled or under-filled need. For the non-shopaholic, it may look like “crazy” or irrational behavior. It’s not. The shopaholic is often entirely rational. They shop for a reason — it fulfills a need, so they keep doing it.”
These excerpts say it better than I could.
Gloria, for me, at least, your comments are practical and helpful. I don’t see myself as a shopping addict because I don’t get into financial trouble or neglect other responsibilities, but I do use shopping to distract from more meaningful — but also more challenging –pursuits. This is sort of new for me, caused by a post-pregnancy change in figure (not so much more weight but completely different proportions). By now, I have figured out what looks good and have all the clothes I need, but I maintain the habit of looking, which triggers desire, which triggers purchases. You are clearly right (for me at least) that reading fashion blogs, looking at online sales, etc, feeds the beast, and that there is actually no solution to shopping less than shopping less. Going to desubscribe from my last (but most tempting) shopping site. I think this blog is possibly not really the right place for the urgency you feel, for the reasons you yourself identified, but I am glad you made your points.
I am interested in the idea of a Facebook group and would even help facilitate it. I also think there has to be a way to share our ideas around clothing, fashion, and shopping in a way that does not promote shopping in and of itself. I blog, but much less frequently lately. There is an underlying affect blogging has, it’s undeniable. I stopped taking daily outfit photos when I realized I was dressing for an imaginary audience, rather than folks in my real life I pass on the street or see in the market.
As for recovery, 12 step isn’t the only way. There is a moderation approach (look up MM) and it’s gaining ground as an alternative for those who don’t have to go all or nothing to rein in their excesses.
I have finally set up this group, Mo! I share it in the most recent post that just went live this morning. I hope it will be helpful to those who wish to participate. I would love your help in facilitating. That would be wonderful!
Debbie: You are very brave. I do agree that recovery is a long journey. I myself have similar struggles and my problem is shopping eBay. I also agree with some of the comments here that perhaps you are focusing on clothes too much. I really enjoy your blog but for a while I did not want to read it anymore because it was the same struggle over and over and you did not seem to have made much progress, in my view. I came back because I myself are still struggling with the same problem. I am doing less shopping now and I hope I will make it. I wonder whether taking a break from blogging and completely not shopping will help you. I have a full time busy job and not doing internet shopping is hard for me since it is such a relaxing activity after a busy day, I imagine it will be even harder for you.
I think the tone of the comments here have lost sight of the difference between a problem with shopping too much and an addiction. It is easy for a person with a drinking problem to just give up alcohol. It is no where near that easy for those with the disease of alcoholism to give up alcohol. They say if you want to find out if you are an alcoholic, just give up drinking! I found out just that way!
I am very disturbed by the insensitivity of the comments here. If you are not a shopaholic, perhaps you need to check out some other blogs. There are those of us here who are sincerely working to get better. We are making great strides, albeit slowly and definitely not perfectly. We certainly don’t need any more shame heaped upon us. We heap our own shame on deep enough!
It does me no good to tell me to just never go shopping again. I need strategies to help me put shopping in its proper perspective. I need to see that I can fail and change and grow and have a community that encourages me in my struggle. Sure I could stay out of stores for a year but then where would I be at the end of that year? Right back where I started from with the same problems that got me into my mess originally.
I am happy for those of you who have it all figured out. But please be kind and sensitive to the fact that not everyone is like you. We will probably figure out what works for us, but chastising us will never get us there. Encouragement and support will.
Beautifully said. Thank you
Wonderful. Thank you for your comment.
Thank you so much for this, Anne. You really expressed very well a lot of what I would want to say. There have been too many new comments added here since last night for me to respond to individually and I don’t think that would even be the best thing to do at this point, as it might spur on more back and forth interchange that wouldn’t even be productive.
It seems as if some commenters don’t feel that I and others here are taking responsibility for our behavior. As I have written many times before, just because we endeavor to EXPLAIN what we did or are doing, that doesn’t mean that we are EXCUSING it. I think it’s important to look at our motivations for why we do things, as that can help us to change and do things differently next time. I also don’t believe that beating ourselves up or heaping shame on ourselves is productive. I have done that more often than most of you will ever know, but all that got me was MORE bad behavior and extremely low self-esteem.
I don’t think it’s okay to shop as much as I have been doing and I don’t expect anyone else to think it’s okay, either. But I also don’t expect others to flog me for it, either. This blog is not about “do as I do” or even “do as I say.” Yes, I offer advice sometimes, but I am not saying by any means that I have it all figured out. I don’t… I have learned some things along the way that I feel might help others, so I share it here, but I also share my mistakes and my feelings openly. This blog is about my journey – the good, the bad, and the ugly. And for those who choose to share, it’s also about their journeys. Some say they are inspired by me and that’s wonderful, but what I really want to do is to help others feel less alone in their struggle. I want to take some of the shame out of a problem that most people feel they need to hide from everyone around them or laugh off as something that women just do. It is a serious problem for many people and it isn’t as easy as “just stop.”
I have gone long period of time without shopping in the past. I have mostly “white knuckled” it through out of desperation because of debt. But then I went right back to overshopping again because nothing had changed. I am not in debt now and I have managed to stick to a budget for the past two years when I was never able to before. Yes, I still buy too many items, but it’s 1/3 to 1/4 of what I used to buy before I started the blog. Do I have a long way to go? Yes, I do, but I have made progress and although it’s slower than some of you would like, I am proud of how far I’ve come thus far. Yes, I have setbacks and am in one right now, but I will get out of it and a lot of the reason for that is this community and the support I get from all of you. I do get questions, challenges, and “tough love” from many of you, but many of the comments today were not at all loving and I didn’t feel they were supportive or understanding of me and others. As Anne so eloquently stated (thanks, Anne), chastising will never get us to the place of recovery. Encouragement and support will…
I thank all of you who have supported me along the way. I’m sorry if I have let you down. I let myself down sometimes, but I am not going to stay down and I’m not going to beat myself up mercilessly like I used to do. I am an imperfect human being… just like everyone else. Shopping is my Achilles heel, but I have a lot of strengths as well and I am a worthy person. I am not a horrendous sinner because I buy too many clothes. I do not deprive my husband or others of important life necessities because of my shopping. I have spent money that could have been better used, true, but all of our needs are taken care of. That may not be true for some of you, but you know what? That doesn’t make you a worthless person, either. The fact that you are here and reading my posts and the comments shows that you want to change. If you keep forging ahead and if you pick yourself up when you fall, you will get to where you want to be. It may take years and yes I have been struggling for almost 3 years on this blog, but you probably didn’t get to where you are now overnight, either. I’ve had a shopping problem since I was a teenager and I’m almost 50, so if it takes me 5 years to recover, so be it and I will still be proud and grateful.
I’m tired of being ashamed of myself. I’m tired of feeling like I’m not good enough or like I have to hide my head in shame. That never helped me to change and it never will. If you think I cop out or haven’t made any progress, then you don’t have to read this blog. There are lots of other blogs out there – millions even. I’m sure you will find other bloggers to follow who are a better fit for you. I am okay if I lose some readers from time to time because I know the people who identify with me, warts and all, will stick around. My kindred spirits are who I write for and I know I have many of them. I feel their love and support and it keeps me going. Sometimes they challenge me and I welcome that, but the love is still there. If you merely want to criticize and flog me and others like me, please go elsewhere. I don’t like saying that, but I don’t want a repeat of what has happened here today. I don’t moderate comments because I am not always around to approve them right away and I want the conversation to flow freely as much as possible. I have very rarely had to delete a comment or put someone on moderate or block. I don’t want to have to do that. I would rather people just go elsewhere if they can’t be respectful in what they have to say. Fortunately, the majority of commenters are kind and constructive and I’m grateful for that. On the whole, I’m very grateful for everyone here. Let’s keep this community a safe place to share. Thank you!
You are absolutely amazing to be so transparent about your journey. I am one of the most outgoing, Type-A people you’ll ever meet, a person who doesn’t mind wearing her heart on her sleeve, yet I rarely acknowledge my shopoholism to even the closest friends and family. (I think they know it, but still compliment my fashion sense which seems to reinforce the problem for me. Total Catch-22!)
Thank you so much for your kind words, DuncMom. I haven’t acknowledged my shopaholism to many of the people in my life, either, even though I am writing this blog under my real name. I just knew that it would be more meaningful to my readers if I didn’t hide behind a pseudonym. I want to take compulsive shopping out of the shadows. I have gradually told more and more people and having an article about me in Real Simple magazine last year certainly revealed it to more and more people. It’s still kind of awkward when I tell people I have a blog and need to explain it. Most of the time, I’m vague about it and people don’t probe about it, but I’m getting better at being more open about it, which is hard for me because I’m actually quite introverted and private. I guess that doing this blog is more amazing for me than I ever thought…
You are some woman and a gift to those of us who now acknowledge their own struggle with this affliction. Continued success on your journey and for inspiring us on ours!
Debbie, i was so proud and touched when i read this comment, especially that last paragraph. i love seeing how you stick up for this community and what’s best for it. well said, hear hear. xo
Thank you, Claire. I care a lot about all of you and want this to always be a safe and supportive place for those of us who struggle with compulsive shopping. I don’t want to enable anyone else or have anyone enable me, but I don’t want any of us to be beat up on, either. I think we strike a very good balance here most of the time…
I think what draws people here is the fact that it is Recovering Shopaholic, not Recovered Shopaholic. There are already plenty of blogs out there that project an image of perfection. The fact that you are willing to post about your struggles and setbacks is what makes you relatable, to me at least.
Yes, this, Jeanne. Thank you! I’m glad you find my relatable and that is what I want to be. I don’t have it all figured out and I don’t pretend to. I do offer advice when I feel it is useful, but I am also readily open about my mistakes and foibles. I’m in a setback now, so I wrote about it. I’m glad that many people resonated with this post. I never expected it to get contentious. I was actually grateful for the comment that spurred on this post and I didn’t want to make that person feel bad or wrong for what she said. But some of what came after that was not really called for. I know a lot of bloggers deal with this sort of thing all the time. I’ve been very lucky thus far that I haven’t had a lot of negativity on my blog. Hopefully we can get back to the supportive community I have become so proud of. That doesn’t mean you can’t point out my mistakes or challenge me on my behavior. Feel free to do so. Most of you are very respectful and kind in your approach and you really make me think. I learn so much from all of you and I know I am farther along that I would be had I not started this blog. While my progress is not speedy, it IS happening. I may have taken a few steps back over the past month, but I believe that what I’m learning from it will serve me well. I want to be in a much better place in my life by the time I turn 50 and I believe I will make it happen. Thank you to all of those who have supported me along the way and will continue to do so. You really do keep me honest and keep me going and I appreciate it very much!
I agree! This blog really helps me stay motivated and inspired. If other people don’t find it helpful, why not just read other blogs? There are groups such as al-anon for family members of people with addiction.
Also, I think that we should point out that shopping addiction and alcohol addiction are not really comparable. Over-shopping is more closely related to over-eating in that it is not something you can just stop doing permanently, it is something you need to learn how to manage and live with. And unlike alcohol, which in itself offers no value and is non-essential for daily life, sharing meals with friends/family and fashion can bring joy to one’s life.
Fashion and clothing can be a beautiful means of self-expression and is central to our identities. While it’s good and healthy to consume less, most people don’t want to give up all their belongings and become Hare Krishnas. I think the goal should be to learn how to moderate our behaviour so that we can once again enjoy what fashion can offer instead of letting it control us.
Buying clothing is not bad if we’re able to do so in a healthy way that does not interfere with our happiness, mental health, relationships and finances.
I gave up drinking nearly 8 years ago at 20 years old. I’ve now been sober longer than my drinking career. There’s the possibility that if I were to drink today I could moderate my behaviour, but that would add absolutely no value to my life. Drugs like alcohol aren’t beneficial whatsoever and drinking would not bring me joy. However I would never take the same stance on shopping. I curremtly overshop and am in debt as a result. I am now learning how to moderate that behaviour and be financially responsible. I’m learning how to appreciate what I have instead of always wanting more. I am keeping accountable to myself and to my husband. My goal is to spend less time and energy on clothing and enjoy my life more. Part of enjoying my life will eventually be making purchases that I love that are in line with my goals, values and budget.
I’m so glad this blog is helpful to you, C. You articulated your points very well. I agree that compulsive overeating is much more akin to overshopping than alcoholism is. I know people who have been in Overeaters Anonymous and they have struggled because abstinence is not as cut and dry and it is for drinking, drugs, and gambling. We have to eat every day and we have to shop as well, not every day by any means but it is something most of us will need to do at least a few times per year if not more. We have to learn how to do it in a moderate and mindful manner. Learning moderation is really challenging and everyone can see how I’ve been struggling with it. But I’m going to keep working on it, even if some people don’t see that I’ve made any progress. I see progress and that’s what’s most important. My goals are the same as yours and I wish you all the best in making them happen. I will be cheering you on and will be here for you if you falter and need support.
Thanks so much Debbie! Yesterday I unsubscribed from all those online store emails I get, and it was surprisingly hard! I couldn’t believe how attached I was to junk mail, but I liked seeing all those new items and outfit combinations. I think part of my problem is that I shop to reward myself, and I have always gotten everything I want. Hopefully I’ll want less things if I don’t see them. I think I’ve also been shopping to procrastinate and escape. It would be so fulfilling to learn how to get back in touch with my creativity instead. Your blog has really got me thinking more deeply about all of this.
Good for you for unsubscribing, C! That’s an important step because it’s often true that out of sight is out of mind. I find that I don’t want as much stuff if I don’t expose myself to temptation via the emails, blog posts, etc. I have often shopped to reward myself or procrastinate or escape, too. Those are three powerful reasons for overshopping. I hope you will find ways to get back in touch with your creativity. I’m glad my blog has been helpful in getting you to think about what you really want. Best wishes!
I too think those posters who say ‘just stop shopping’ are missing the point. I know for me it fills a void- I can have a brief conversation with another person and even though I shop alone, it’s an activity that weirdly doesn’t feel lonely (mostly, though not always). Undoubtedly, there are other, more worthy ways to spent time, but sometimes I just don’t have the energy for them. I don’t live in my home country, and even though I’ve been here several years, I still feel like an outsider. Shopping is a way to feel ‘normal’ for a short period. I have friends, who are all people from my country who’ve been thrown here by the same circumstance. I would love to make friends here- I take classes and volunteer, and go to the gym, but it hasn’t happened. I had a good career in my home country, but am unable to find work here, which is very disheartening. The days are long and lonely, and sometimes shopping is a way to blot that out and have some form of human connection. I probably do shop a bit too much, though it’s not a huge issue, but I do get overwhelmed with clutter at times which I’d like to address. For me, to simply stop shopping would mean making myself more isolated, and I’m reluctant to do that. I’m not good in groups (it’s true that a gathering of people can be the loneliest place to be), and shopping allows me a brief interaction that can be on my terms.
I so much identified with everything you wrote, Gilly. You said it all so perfectly and I never thought of it quite that way before. It IS weird how shopping doesn’t feel lonely even if I am doing it alone. And I could really identify with what you wrote about not having the energy for other activities. The only activity I’ve found that is similar to shopping for me is photography. I can do it whenever I feel up to it and I don’t feel lonely while I’m doing it. It’s easy for me to just pick up my camera and go and take photos. But lately I have been doing BOTH photography AND shopping, whereas for a while, I just did the photography and felt totally fulfilled by it. I think I have just had so much emotional upset as of late that I’ve reached back for the comfort of my old, familiar “friend,” shopping, even though I know it doesn’t truly serve me. I think that when I stopped shopping, I DID make myself even more isolated, which may be part of why I’ve been doing more of it again. I need to find better ways to get human connection that aren’t draining like what you described. I wish that for you, too…