Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Few, The Proud, The Recovering

Turns out there is more than just the Six Items or Less movement and The Great American Apparel Diet (GAAD). There's the Thirty for Thirty challenge, and Week without Stuff .  Frugality is now chic, but I think that there's something in the air that is making many people--in the States mostly, it seems--re-evaluate their relationship to their stuff, whether it be clothing, in my case, or just over-abundance in their homes, in general.  This heightened awareness currently prompting people to try these material diets on for size can be exciting and fun, even for people who don't have to be on a limited budget.  I believe it gives people who were once, or have a tendency to be, spenders and over-consumers the opportunity to exercise their creativity and to be grateful for all that they already have. Of course, I say this now, as I'm in the throes of a consciousness love-fest.  Talk to me when I happen to be in the States just in time for a Nordstrom sale.

I've taken this just a little bit futher.  In addition to applying to be a part of the GAAD yesterday, I also signed up for the on-line Spenders-Debtors Anonymous, and am looking forward to attending face-to-face meetings when I'm back in the States.  I like the whole Anonymous movement, and the idea of surrendering and seeking strength through a Higher Power--however He/She/It may look--jives with my Roman Catholic upbringing, even though the Church as an institution has long lost its appeal.  Also, my experience as a tag-along with an Alcoholics Anonymous member and my own experience in Sexual Abuse Survivors in Recovery Anonymous were nothing but positive and motivating. So, I figured that if I were really serious walking my psychotherapeutic-clean living talk, I should really get all areas of my life together, even the parts that I am most reluctant to acknowledge to myself. 

I have been a debtor, meaning I possess the ability for amassing enormous amounts of debt within a short amount of time  I am also, mostly defnitely, a champion spender, a gold-medal consumer.  Although, my spending won't be setting any records, the fact that my habits are not giving me the rush that it once did suggests strongly that I've crossed the line somewhere between my last Calvin Klein dress and my fabulous 30-dollar, vintage 70's leather trench coat aquisition from the Goodwill. And, yes, just because thriftstores are my regular stomping ground doesn't mean that I'm any less of a consumer. Thrifting can add up very quickly, especially when you can spot an incredible, vintage 80's Valentino blazer for ten bucks from across the parking lot at the Melrose Trading Post in Los Angeles (Yes, my radar is THAT good.)

So, how the hell did I get this way? 

After hundreds of dollars and hours spent (wisely--really, probably THE wisest purchase and best investment I have ever made) in therapy with my amazing psychoanalyst in the States over the last 10 years, nights of journaling and dreaming, and journaling my dreaming, I've figured out a thing or two: 1) Instead of saying apologizing for any hurts, just buy something, and 2) To avoid any kind of confrontation or war, go shopping.  In a nutshell, this has been my dynamic with my mother.  Since my mother and I have been on the outs in the last year, and since my family of origin has been reconfigured, guess what?!  I went shopping!  They don't call it Retail Therapy for nothing!

The good news is that after getting myself out of a credit bind several years go, I requested a relatively manageable credit level, just enough to buy an economy class plane ticket back to the States in case of a family emergency.  The bad news is that every purchase pushed me further into the Black Hole of Shame and Self-Loathing (not to mention limiting greatly my ability to see exactly what was in my bloated wardrobe). Been there (one too many times), done that, and am ready to move on to being grateful for everything I have.

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