Here’s the thing – I’ve been spending too much money lately. It happens to me every once in awhile . . .I get into this yucky rhythm in which I experience these feelings of restlessness and anxiety until I get to a store and buy something. The something is usually a stupid and unnecessary thingamajig for my house. Then after I get home and set up the thingamajig, I feel relaxed and happy for a bit. Then my eyes travel to a different part of my house and I notice something else I “need.” And back out I go for more stupid thingamajigs.
And this cycle turns into large credit card bills. And a worried husband. And Craig drops little hints that make me feel guilty for not having more control over myself and for not being a better partner and for putting my petty imaginary needs ahead of my family’s financial security and our giving. And so I promise myself no more shopping. But then I find myself driving to my favorite treasure store the next day.
For me, not wanting to do something and then compulsively doing it anyway is a Big Red Flag. Because the anxiety that I experience before shopping feels dangerously similar to the anxiety that led me to binge on food and booze. And the temporary feeling of relief I feel after making a purchase reminds me of being high. And then the guilt I feel when the credit card bill comes reminds me of how I felt when the insanity of the binge was over . . . when I sobered up and crashed back down to Earth.
After it’s all over, I feel more anxious and empty and out of control than when I started the whole exhausting compulsive process. For me . . . all three – drinking, overeating, mindless shopping – they are like frantic attempts to fill up on air. I feel emptier and hungrier afterward than I did before I started. Because, of course, you can never get enough of what you don’t really need. Thank you, Bono.
My head knows that…but my appetite has a mind of its own.
After years of experimenting, I’ve learned that there are healthy ways for me to deal with my anxiety. . . large glasses of ice cold water, a long hot bath, a walk outside, meds, deep breaths, exercise, yoga, reading, writing, meditation, a date with a friend . . . but at this stage in my life – there is a certain kind of mindless shopping that is an unhealthy choice for me. Leaves me worse off than when I started. Hurts my family. Makes me feel untrustworthy.
But it’s tricky because as a parent of little ones, there’s plenty of shopping that does have to get done. Shopping’s like food- I can’t avoid it completely. So Craig and I have been talking a lot about Wants vs. Needs – trying to determine which sort of thingamajigs fit into which category.
One evening recently, I decided that I was DONE with my children for the day. I was feeling anxious and I made a conscious decision to relieve my anxiety destructively, by shopping.
I casually yelled to Craig, “I’m going out for awhile,” and I grabbed my keys and started walking to the car. But the sneaky bastard followed me outside, stuck his hot little head in the window and said:
“Glennon. Please don’t come home with a huge metal chicken. Just, please.”
The man has a sixth sense which God granted him to survive his marriage to me. I rolled my eyes as if he was completely ridiculous.
DAMNIT, I thought.
Tragically for him, Husband mentioned nothing about six foot wooden giraffes.
Mr. Wardlow was our friend. We dressed him in tutus and sunglasses and tiaras and purses. I guess Mr. Wardlow was a bit of cross-dresser. We embraced him for who he was. And for three glorious days Mr. Wardlow stood proudly and ridiculously in our foyer and greeted each of our confused guests. Tish hugged him each morning. Chase made him a huge nametag which hung around his long. elegant neck. Forgive me, I didn’t take pictures of him all dressed up because I assumed we’d have more time together for photo shoots.
But it was not meant to be.
Craig returned Mr. Wardlow.
He sure did.
When he got home from The Returning, Craig found me on the couch wearing a black t-shirt and black leggings. I announced that I was in mourning for Mr. Wardlow and could not speak for several days. Craig disregarded my mourning process and spoke to me anyway.
Craig: Glennon. I really thought we were doing better about deciding between Needs versus Wants. Wooden giraffes are definitely WANTS.
Me: Well. In your opinion, I guess they are. I guess they are.
Craig: NO. In EVERYONE’S opinion. NOONE NEEDS a six foot wooden giraffe. That thing was TERRIBLE. AWFUL. Embarrasing.
Me: HOLD ON A SECOND. Let us be clear. ARE YOU INSISTING THAT NOONE NEEDS MR. WARDLOW?
Craig: Right. NOONE. That’s what I’m saying.
ME: What about a GIRAFFE COLLECTOR? A GIRAFFE COLLECTOR would most definitely need Mr. Wardlow.
Craig: What, are you suggesting that you’re a giraffe collector now?
Me: WELL, NOT ANYMORE, AM I????? Thank you for killing my dream of becoming an internationally respected giraffe collector. Thank you. I hope you are satisfied.
So long, Mr. Wardlow. You were a good, tall, wooden friend.