For far too many years, I found myself shopping with QSN*, one of the several popular home shopping TV networks. I didn’t buy the occasional blouse or crock pot, I bought a myriad of items that I absolutely did not need. Sadly, I often bought products that I didn’t even want.
This is not a tale of the dynamics of addiction or a guide to a Twelve Step Program. Although there wasn’t a doubt that I was a shopaholic, my story is one of disclosure, my step one perhaps: “Admitted that I was a shopaholic and that I had lost all control.”
I knew the hosts intimately. Don* was also a farmer when not in front of the camera. Karen* is a size medium and a pet lover. All in all, I could give you background on a dozen hosts, which included those I liked and others that I wouldn’t care to have lunch with.
Speaking of food, us diehard “Q” fans came to know all the cooking wares (only this club of chronic shoppers used the term Q). “Hey Ronda, Today’s Great Value at the Q is a Keurig coffee maker, complete with an assortment of k cups. You can choose from a selection of 11 colors.” I was family, you see, as I consorted with other Q fans.
Kyle, my UPS guy, would deliver up to four packages daily. I delighted in his visits and gleefully opened each box. At my home, Christmas was five days weekly, year round. The act of tearing into said parcels was delightful, however the ultimate thrill came when ordering by phone.
“Good morning, Sarah. This is Kathy. I’d like to purchase item number S7492 in cranberry. Come to think of it, I’ll take another in sunflower yellow.” Now the proud owner of two new sets of dinner dishes, I could have my choice of salad plates from one of the many sets I owned. After all, I reasoned, one tires of the same crockery day after day.
I bought clothes that I rarely wore, electronic devices that I didn’t or couldn’t use, jewelry, shoes, food products, and more. I was in debt up to my eyeballs, but that wasn’t a sound reason to stop. I also spent gobs of money on friends and family. If a Q box was delivered to your door, chances were it was a gift from me.
Regardless of his chronic chastisements, my son owned a scuba diving watch even though he didn’t partake in that activity. My BFF had more winter frocks than she could shake a stick at and my brother was a monument to fashion as he skied.
Indeed, I had a problem, a problem that arose from boredom, loneliness, and a sense of entitlement. Raised in a wealthy geographic environment, I was used to having it all. “It” was horses and cars and renowned, well-off friends. If your father was somebody, then so were you. I was cool, as was fitting to my wonderfulness. That was until I reached the black years of 25 on.
By 48, I was newly divorced and friendless, and my loneliness cut to the core. My son had begun his life, freed from the umbilical cord at last. As well as shopping excessively, I drank too much, smoked too much, and cried too much. A kind therapist guided me as I saw the light and after a three-year stint in therapy, I could say that I was done.
During those three years, I banned myself from this shopping channel and withdrew painfully. Selling my home to pay off my debt, I spent days in bed, paralyzed by the Ghost of Times Past. Could I ever function? Would I learn that I was a valid person in my own right, regardless of being destitute?
Depressed, OCD-ish, anxious, and fearful of life, I was truly one large mess of symptoms. Change was paramount and, on a fall day, I figuratively began putting one foot in front of the other. Literally, I began to take walks and eventually became acquainted with my neighbors. Several friendships formed and life had new meaning. Joining a Twelve Step Program to address my alcoholism, I learned even more.
I learned that I wasn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread. I learned that my symptoms were a way in which my psyche said, “Whoa.” Finally, I learned that I had merit, regardless of my financial status.
I also journaled, a lot. As the author Dorothy Parker stated, “I hate writing, I loved having written.” I leapt from journaler to writer to author in a matter of time. I found my niche.
I have been sober for 19 years and I no longer shop obsessively. More importantly, I became a tolerant and patient person for the most part. I saw the merits in being a giver and I cut down my demanding persona. I would love to feel worthy of love, and I’m working toward that dream.
As I look back, my metamorphosis began with the Q.
Kyle still delivers the occasional package which contain necessary items such as a winter coat. Kyle has said, “You’ve come a long way, Kath. You wouldn’t believe how many people have homes full of these things. I’m proud of you.”
Now, as I conclude my confession, I will add, “Kathy, you are okay.”
[*The names are fictional so that I won’t get sued.]