No Shopping Challenge: I went OFF

Remember that girl who blogged about how hard it was not to shop? And then she sorta quit blogging so much. I wonder what happened? I’ll tell you what happened. Her mom came to town. Her mom came to town for the baptism of her grandson and said to the daughter, “If you’re really gonna stick to that, I might as well leave after we dunk the kid.” It was said in jest of course. Except, it wasn’t.

My parents can be– and have been–supportive of a lot of positive changes I have made: they paid for my over-priced treatment center, countless psychiatrists, therapists, gym memberships, nicotine patches, and the list could go on. One change they could not get behind was my effort to give up shopping. It would be an equal familial betrayal to tell them I’d decided to become a Buddhist. Shopping is our love language. Its our only shared recreation. Its quite simply, what we do.

I didn’t have a plan in place for how to navigate maternal waters without the life raft of Target runs and trips to the mall, and thus, I knew I was essentially swan diving into a relapse. And here’s the thing: I couldn’t seem to care. I was over it. O-V-E-R. I-T. I couldn’t hearken back to the impetus for the whole experiment. And I tried, I tried in my minds eye to remember why I’d gotten on this bandwagon to begin with. I thought about the living room floor being covered in metallic wrapping paper and the surplus of winter clothes leaking from the kids closets (and mine). But as tulips sprung from the neighbors yards (I should really plant some tulips) and I pulled out the heavy weight sweaters to be tucked away until next fall, emotional buying space opened up for me. Nearly five months was long enough for me to deliberate: I hated this experiment. Not shopping sucked. Enough already…

And as we say in my non-drinking life, the actual picking up of a drink is the END of the relapse, not the beginning, I see that now in hindsight for my shopping experiment. Looking back, once I opened the gates to getting the kids stuff “they needed,” things got dicey. I had a reason to be in Old Navy. Before my mom came, I very, very secretively bought a clearance dress (it was literally under $50) to wear to the baptism. My mature, evolved logic? “Everyone else in the family is getting to wear something new and special that day!” Waaaaa

This was the slip before the slip. The borrowed Percocet before the Pinot Grigio.

My mom is an interior designer, she is also embracing the role of opinionated old lady. The combo, while beneficial can also sometimes prove brutal. On a previous visit she walked through my living room, removed a throw pillow from the sofa and tossed it at me. Surprised and a little offended, I challenged her with my eyebrows. “Its not adding anything to the conversation,” she said, before walking back to the counter for a sip of her signature McDonalds Diet Coke (no cans, never a convenient can.)

As I dipped my toe back in the familiar waters of retail delight, at first I wowed myself with my restraint; blown away with how the No Shopping Experiment had changed the way I now viewed clothes. I tried on jeans and a green springy sweater at the J. Crew Outlet. They looked good, the price was good, done deal, I thought.  Except before removing the no-brainer items a niggling voice inside said, they aren’t adding anything to the conversation.Translation: You have enough jeans and plain cotton stuff to wear. Move on, sister. And I did. I left the store with nothing feeling as powerful as Anna Wintour herself.

My first few actual purchases were cautious, logical. I bought Bermuda-length shorts which I’ve actually been wanting and fill a need in my wardrobe life. I bought a comfy nude peep-toe I can dress up or wear with jeans. But there’s a reason cliches exist at the bar like, “don’t break the seal” and in the real world:  the cow is out of the barn, you can’t un-ring the bell, and its a slippery slope. Which is how I ended up buying a gigantic piece of furniture, 3 ottoman cubes, having a private $300 tryst at the regular J. Crew buying only (wait for it…) a pair of jeans and several cotton shirts, 2 swimsuits from Athleta, and some stuff from White House Black Market.

I think I feel like a man must feel when he’s gone too many days without sex and finally is able to get off.

In addition to those of you who have reached out via text etc., my hair dresser asked this week how my whole no shopping thing was going. I told her I’d thoroughly blown it, and she commented, “Well, you seem a lot happier.” I had to laugh. I feel a lot happier. But then again, had I seen her since the Effexor started working its magic, or since the tulips started sprouting?

When I was shopping with my mama I thought of it as a hiatus from the experiment. I’ll go back on as soon as she leaves. But the desire, the giddy-up, is gone. I feel really comfortable with the decision to never do that again, unless finances warrant it.

I sat down this week with my friend M who is in on the challenge. She encouraged me to write down all the reasons I initially wanted to do it, no Ann Patchett’s reasons. Mine.

So I will. And in the spirit of the blog it seems to make sense to do it here. In the meantime, I would welcome your thoughts and feedback on my great quit of April 2018.

Thanks for reading–


2 thoughts on “No Shopping Challenge: I went OFF”

  1. I have so enjoyed following your experiment. And I know that “it doesn’t add anything to the conversation” is going to pop into my brain from time to time!!

  2. Hey, you tried, you took a break, and that’s not for nothin’. —- I’m having a similar issue with social media. I left Facebook back in December, but what I realize now is that (a) it’s been great to be out of the loop, but (b) I’m in the dark about friends’ lives and heartaches, etc… since I’ve been off.

    So I think I’m going back on. *sigh*

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