I Fell Off the Wagon

Both irl and in my dream last night…

Weekends working at the mall are by far and away the most challenging part of this whole experience. The sparkling gates of retail heaven open before me as I wander in wonder past store windows with paisley leggings, camel jackets and sale signs. (I somehow find time on my breaks to behold these golden mysteries.)

Anyway, at Target last weekend, I bought a blouse “for work.” It was black and dressy and cute and marked down and if I didn’t buy it I was going to freak out and my heart was pounding and it felt — so good…

For like an hour afterward, before the guilt set in. I’ve known that kind of self-disappointment and shame before. Like, when I eat McDonald’s for lunch or when I cancel plans because “I’m too busy (watching YouTube videos).” Only, this was worse. I felt weak and fraudulent. The compulsion to buy had been too strong, I was obsessing (at work) about buying everything. Each new skirt and necklace was something I absolutely needed to own. And then I went to Target to get a drink during lunch and I couldn’t control myself another minute. And I bought the shirt. In line I kept thinking to myself, “I don’t even care. It’s one shirt. I can wear it at work, c’mon’. It’s not over-priced. I haven’t bought a single thing in three weeks, that is a long time for me! It’s one retail purchase in a month — did I really think I was going to quit cold turkey? And if any one actually though that was reasonable they can get bent. I’m allowed one slip up. Give me a break!”

Defensive immediately and soon guilty, I never took the shirt out of the red and white bag. I returned it five days later (I had to make a special trip to the mall to give something back, and then leave empty-handed. That was a first). In line at the customer service counter, I kept thinking, “This is the right thing to do. I don’t even remember what the shirt looks like exactly. I don’t need it. Oh my gosh, such a relief to be here. This shirt was not worth letting myself down. I am stronger than the sale rack at Target. I am Queen.”

Then I had a dream about a sale at PacSun. Every $10 spent, you got to fill up a 13 inch bag with free all-you-can-haul merchandise. A subconscious shopping spree I’m glad I remembered when I woke up. Ah, retail.

So, one month down. One. Month. Down.

I’m still working at the mall on weekends, and not shopping is not getting easier. Nevertheless, at least I know now that dollars are not all it will cost to get a shopping fix this year. I’ m proud of what I’m doing, for me. I want to prove to myself that I do not need to shop to be happy — or sane. I’m glad I freaked out and uncontrollably made a purchase at Target because the feeling afterward was far worse than the greedy itch I wanted to scratch.

I guess I should say this, too. I don’t think shopping is something to feel ashamed or guilty about — not at all, not in the slightest. What I felt guilty about was that in the moment — I was not seeing clearly. I was fiendish and obsessive and had to buy that freaking shirt or heads were going to roll. And that is what I felt guilty about. Self-control and appreciation for what I already have a virtues I have resolved to work toward cultivating this year. So what that I had a lapse in judgement, I kept my receipt. No worries, it can all be taken back.

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