It occurred to me last night, after I purchased 10 Christmas pillows, supplies for my family to make several Christmas ornaments at our Thanksgiving holiday weekend extravaganza, another shower curtain for the office bathroom and various art supplies for my craft room, that I might be a shopaholic…the evidence has been all around me in my new house because the Amazon boxes have been piling up in the garage…every Friday is heavy trash day and every Friday I have been hauling the empty boxes out to the end of the driveway, those boxes which are the stark raving evidence of my addiction and which stand there screaming out to the entire neighborhood that a shopaholic lives in my house and can’t stay off her Amazon app for one hot little second…
I’ve been explaining this all away by saying that we just moved into a new house and we need things. We need things for the new house. We got rid of so many of our old things and we needed to replace them. Lately, my excuse has changed to, it’s the holidays: we need place settings. We need decorations. We need Christmas ornament supplies. We need a new shower curtain…Wait—what does a new shower curtain have to do with the holidays?
So, I’ve caught on to my own stories. I’ve looked up the websites on shopaholism. This isn’t the first time my love affair with Amazon has burned me. My husband has been on me for overspending in the previous house, and the one before that…This is a well-worn pattern—with every credit card, every wallet, every house, every apartment, every dorm room…Turns out that I have all the traits of a shopaholic, and just in case you are wondering if you could be one too, I will detail them to you here:
I have low self-esteem. Yes, no matter how much I work on it (and it has improved a lot), I am still working on this issue. I am currently struggling with body image, general self-worth and feelings of low value. I need a lot of extrinsic motivation from my husband and I feel I don’t get it, which causes me to feel badly about myself. I am a perfectionist in some areas, even though I am working hard to improve this fact.
I have emotional issues—hello, this one’s super obvious because I have a mood disorder. People who have mood disorders like bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, etc. are much more likely to try and seek out external sources of mood lifting experiences like shopping to make themselves feel better, if only for a brief moment, which can lead them into a vicious cycle of obsessively seeking a pleasurable activity to the point where it can become addictive.
Shopaholics are approval-seekers. This one hits home, too. My mom is coming for Thanksgiving. A lot of the impetus behind my purchases is to get the gold star, the “oh, Kristen, the table looks beautiful, Chloe looks wonderful in her outfit, the house looks fantastic, everything looks perfect!” Even though I’m in my forties, I still crave the seal of approval from my mother and I will apparently stop at basically nothing to get it.
People with shopping compulsions are materialistic. This one hurts. I don’t want to think of myself this way, but I think it’s true. Case in point: I love jewelry.
Another aspect to this personality is low impulse control, which I think is obvious and which I also think ties into having a mood disorder—part of being bipolar and having mania is having no impulse control, which I think spills over into non-manic experience because it is still more difficult for most medicated bipolars to control their impulses than non-bipolars.
Lastly, compulsive shoppers indulge in fantasy more often than other people, and they believe that their purchases will provide them with a certain kind of experience, lifestyle or opportunity, which is usually just not the case, and they wind up being disappointed. Part of being a compulsive shopper is feeling out of control with your spending or feeling remorse or guilt after making your purchases. Sometimes this comes as a result of realizing that your purchases didn’t fulfill the dream you thought they would.
Compulsive shoppers can experience a lot of negative consequences for their actions, like serious debt. I know that I have had a lot of credit card debt in my past. Currently, I am dealing with a lot of strife in my home because my husband is unhappy with the amount of spending I’ve done—but, I’ve continued to spend (and he isn’t actually aware of how much I’ve really spent)—so I am going to be in even more trouble tonight when I break the news to him that I spent more money last night on the purchases I detailed to you at the beginning of this article. I am unhappy with myself! I am going to deal with this in today’s therapy session. Shopaholism is a real and baffling condition that can cause serious problems, but I believe that cognitive behavioral therapy is the best solution.
To continue reading my work, please visit:
https://www.Amazon.com/author/mariekjohnston (for my official biography and bibliography),
https://www.BooksbyMarieKJohnston.com (for articles about my books and poetry),
https://www.MarieKJohnston.com (for articles about creative writing and visual art)
https://www.Pinterest.con/kmmccurry (for boards celebrating the wife/mom life of this Buddhist writer!)
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