Shopping

As mentioned in another entry, I have a problem with shopping. Why? Because I am trying to fill myself up with things. It brings satisfaction and comfort. Often shopping feels like hunting. You are on the hunt for special and treasured items at good prices.

However, the pleasure is ever so temporary. You may buy a blouse and find repeated pleasure in wearing it. You may buy an appliance and find repeated usefulness in it as a convenience or necessity. But too much of the shopping I do is for things I don’t need. Like eating, I do it to make myself feel better. I do it to fill the void.

The void is loneliness. The void is lack of emotional expression. The void is feeling unloved by people who are supposed to love me unconditionally. So what do we do when there is a void? Naturally, we try to fill it up. It could be with alcohol, drugs, porn, gambling or many other things. For me it is food and shopping.

I have bought things I don’t need and left them in the scary spare room for weeks or more at a time. In fact I have a box from Amazon that has been sitting there for well over a month that I still have not opened. I call the spare room the scary room because it is essentially unusable. It is packed full of stuff and is a less severe form of hording. My small apartment simply cannot comfortably hold all of the stuff that I have acquired. For instance, my closets are busting at the seams. I would say I wear about 20% of the clothes in the closet and that is being generous. There is never enough in America. We always need more.

Shopping can be very dangerous for some of us. Recently I had a bunch of credit cards and maxed them out. I did not think about the debt that I was incurring. I just thought of it as free money. Much of what I purchased was online. Today one need not even take the energy to go to a “brick and mortar” store to spend money. Nope, it is as easy as jumping online and beginning the dangerous overspending.

I think my secret spending has brought me a lot of shame. Not only because of the debt, but because of the purchase of so many things I don’t need and that I have never even used or opened. Capitalism caught me in its clutches. It won, as it usually does.

For Lent I gave up online shopping in places like Amazon.com. But guess what? My shopping in brick-and-mortar stores skyrocketed, more than making up for the lack of online shopping. Do I have a problem? Absolutely. I wish I could calculate the amount of money I have spent at Amazon since I started shopping there. I suspect it would be in the high 5-figure area. And to support such a company as Amazon-that’s a whole other blog post!

So I would end with a sincere plea to my readers: be careful with spending and with credit cards. It is very easy for them to get the better of you just like they have with me. Be gentle with yourself and figure out ways to fill yourself that are less dangerous. Practice harm-reduction. Now, if I could only follow my own advice…