Learning to Live a Life of Less

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Am I A Shopaholic?

My names is Siobhan, and I am a shopaholic...


Whenever I think of a shopaholic, the image in my brain is that of Isla Fisher on the promo poster of "Confessions of a Shopaholic".  A beautiful, stylish woman with perfect makeup and perfect hair, and half a dozen bags draped over both arms.

Far from what I picture when I see myself.  Not very fashionable, not very skin care and makeup savvy, and good hair days are few and far between.  If I don't look the part, then surely that means I'm not one right?

Wrong.

After reading "The Year of Less" (Seriously, this book!  Read it!), I think that maybe I am a shopaholic, and when I dig deeper, and look at the core of the issue, I see just how much of a problem I have.

You see, it's not just a case of me adding a few extra tops to my wardrobe and having to cut back a little more for the rest of the month.  The issue goes further than this.  It's not so much about the material possessions themselves, but the feeling I get from purchasing them.  That thrill from owning something new.

It's something I've always known happens, but never wanted to say out loud (Or write on screen), but I think I have to in order to truly acknowledge how deep rooted this problem is.  I know I'm addicted to shopping because I lived with an addict for many, many years.

My Mum was an alcoholic (I would just like to clarify now that her illness was in no way related to her death).  For over a decade, I watched my Mum excessively consume alcohol, and when she couldn't, I could see the agitation growing inside of her.  For her, whether she realised it or not, alcohol wasn't a want, but a need.  She couldn't relax until she had her first sip of wine, and unfortunately, one sip turned in to a few bottles, night after night.

I have a very different addiction that follows a similar path and is very much destructive in it's own way.  I can go weeks without spending and be happy plodding along doing my own thing, then one day (Usually when my emotions have been thrown completely out of whack - losing my Mum has been a huge trigger), I can be scrolling through Instagram and I'll see somebody I follow with some new shoes.  

It starts off with me liking the shoes, then thinking I'd quite like to own the shoes.  Over time I start to fixate.  I convince myself that I need them.  That my life won't be complete without them, and this is the very last thing I need, then I'll have absolutely everything I could possibly want.  No more spending.  I start to feel on edge and anxious because I can't possibly live without those shoes a moment longer.

This leads to me eventually caving and buying said shoes.  They fill the void for all of a day or two before life goes back to normal.  They weren't life changing, and my life wasn't complete from owning them.  They were merely a quick fix to make me feel a bit better.  It's a terrible habit that I've spent many years perfecting.  Hiding behind the real issues with quick fixes (For me in the form of impulse purchases) instead of facing my issues head on and tackling them with a long term action plan in mind.

My Mum's addiction was destructive to her physical and mental health.  Mine is destructive to my financial security, my future and my mental health.  Both can have detrimental affects in their own way.  Both need to be tackled head on.

Like all addicts, the first step you have to take is admitting you have a problem.  So here I am, right here, right now (Do you have Fatboy Slim stuck in your head now?!), admitting to the fact that I am a shopaholic.  I'm addicted to the feeling shopping gives me, and I admit that it's a problem I have to face, and I have to fix.

Finding this book has literally been a life saver.  The more I read of this book, the more I think I might actually be Cait Flanders.  I just find myself nodding along to everything she's written in this book.  I relate to her way of thinking, and feel like I share all of her past stories before her spending ban; and this is why I know that this challenge is right for me.

It's going to be tough.  There are going to be a lot of lessons learnt along the way, but I can only come out on the other side a better person.
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