Breaking the Addiction
I just came from my weekly Bible study group where we discussed materialism, always a downer. I was convicted, not necessarily on a moral or biblical plane, although those dimensions are part of the issue of course--what one spends their money on is an ethical/religious issue. But my disgust with myself as a consumer has more to do with a) Poor use of my time b) A general lack of discipline and c) My hatred of clutter.
On point a), I have come to realize that one of the primary reasons why I shop is out of boredom. These days, now that it is harder to get out of the house, it is internet shopping that is my hobby. I watch Charlotte with one eye and cruise ebay with the other (incidentally, this kind impaired shopping is quite dangerous, especially on ebay where you can't return a lot of things; I have probably wasted $100 in the last year on things that are the wrong size or not quite what I want because I wasn't paying close attention. I also bought the new U2 album twice on iTunes, not because I just love Bono that much and want to give him all my money--which I do actually--but because Charlotte was screaming at me). Or at work, if I am procrastinating, I am invariably cruising the J Crew sale (which isn't what it used to be, by the way. They need to wake up and smell the recession). It used to be against company policy to actually buy things on work computers, but they changed that and now it's a no-holds-barred shopathon. Shopping out of boredom would be fine if I was content just gaze, but I am a goal-oriented person, and I don't feel accomplished unless i actually make a purchase. Some people run marathons; I find the perfect black pants (and then I find the more perfect black pants).
This bleeds into point b). I used to think I was quite a disciplined person. In fact, I used to BE a disciplined person. In college, I worked out every day, I studied like mad, I lived pretty frugally. Then I finished graduate school and got divorced. After 8 years of forcing myself to do things I really didn't want to do, both in school and in marriage, I pretty much wanted life to be a party. And it has been for the most part. Until I had Charlotte, my existence was ridiculously easy. I had to invent stress just for the drama of it (which I am really great at doing. Who knew, for instance, that having weeds in one's yard was a life-or-death struggle, as if the weeds might invade your home and strangle you in the night if you didn't find time to pull them up?) Now that I am a mother, which is actually kind of hard for real, I realize that I have lost all discipline. I hardly work out, I spend almost no time on my spiritual growth (I mainly go to the Bible study to socialize), I eat a bunch of crap, I watch a bunch of crap on TV (including Oprah, who, as it turns out, doesn't flood your life with meaning as advertised), and yes, I buy a bunch of crap. Some of it is on sale, this is true, but it is still a bunch of crap that I don't really need, and even a lot of it, unbelievably, I don't really want at the end of the day (see point c)). I have come to lead a very thoughtless and accidental life. And I whine endlessly about the smallest about of hardship. It's really pathetic. I disgust myself! Like really, I'm sitting here with myself and feeling quite nauseous.
My lack of discipline with time and money leads me to point c). Much of what I buy I end up loathing on some level because it takes over my house, stares me in the face, and becomes an obvious display of how little discipline I do have. And it makes my house messier, which I can't stand. I hate clutter! I hate it so much, I do regular purges where I just can't take it anymore and start compulsively throwing things in the car for a Goodwill run. Then, incomprehensibly, I turn right around and go buy more. It really does blow my mind when I sit down to think about it. Some people binge and purge; I shop and donate.
So here's what I am going to do. I've just made my last internet purchase (one needs a parting fix after all), and now I am going cold turkey. That's right. I am going to stop buying stuff I don't really need. I'm going to start with a 30 day stretch to make it more palatable. So watch out American Economy! You are about to take a severe hit.