Thursday, December 1, 2011

Retail Rehab

I have an addiction.

Yes, I used to drink. I used to smoke. I used to be a two-bit version of Lindsay Lohan’s two-bit version of Paris Hilton. I can even still occasionally be found in a crouching position behind the washing machine with fudge on my fingers and a full mouthful of Funions. But while my newest destructive habit produces the same mood-altering rush and crash, it’s not dependent on any sort of substance or food. It’s an odd, unexplainable infatuation with spewing out money. Money that I most certainly don't have.  

I am a compulsive shopper.  It’s time for me to admit this. Since I gave up drinking 4 years ago, the compulsion has just grown and quickened like a snowball headed right through the front window of a TJ MAXX and picking up speed, force, and racks of wall d├ęcor on its way. I cannot go a day without spending money. I can't. When I try to budget or to simply not shop for a day, I feel trapped. Confined. Imprisoned. I want to cry. I can’t breathe. I want to punch people. More than usual, I mean. The thought makes me wet my pants.

When my boyfriend asks me to recount my daily spending, I launch into a tirade that would make Russell Crowe and Christian Bale look like cuddly baby bunnies. When my coworkers comment when I return from “lunch” laden with shopping bags, I’m as defensive as Kris Jenner denying her daughters’ misuse of men and mascara.

The holidays are a welcome excuse to go shopping, as it really doesn’t matter WHO I’m buying for, just that I’m participating in an exchange of cash for goods.  It is the feeling of purchasing something that shakes me deep down in my pretty places. 

But here’s the thing – or one of them: I CAN’T AFFORD THIS. Monetarily speaking, that is. 
Emotionally, I could keep up this subconscious endeavor to soothe the wounds of my past with material items; this emotional escape hatch used to avoid unpleasant feelings  yaddayaddablahblah. I’m not all that interested in uncovering the real reason for my behavior, thank you very much. 

But my bank account – that’s where my bad habit is the most obvious. I’m progressively lowering the bar and compromising on my long-standing goals like owning a home, advertising my freelance business, paying for next year’s car insurance. It’s all just slipping away with every area rug and pair of platform pumps I don’t need but buy anyway. 

Pretty soon, I’m gonna have the most nicely decorated cardboard box on the sidewalk.