Saturday, June 9, 2007

Shop till you ... stop?


I was so very American today. I indulged in shopping therapy. This is something I can honestly say I have only done a few times before in my life. I'm with my mom who says, "If I wake up and find myself in a mall, I'll know I've died and gone to hell." Shopping is something I do out of necessity. (I do like grocery shopping, but that's just because I like food so much.) Today I got: a purse, a pair of shorts, a summer shirt, a pair of linen just-below-the-knee slacks, some good dark chocolate, 2 bottles of wine, assorted junk food and (ta-da!) a funky new pair of glasses.

I'm pretty sure that only the chocolate was fairly traded.

Of course, I can tell you why I needed each of these purchases: pants because my weight has been in flux and I keep changing shapes, the purse because I don't have a light-colored one for summer, the wine because I have friends coming over this week ... etc., etc. And other than the glasses (which were the most expensive pair I've ever gotten!) all of these things were inexpensive, no splurges.

But here's the thing: I did it to make myself feel better. I went out with the intention of buying stuff to improve my mood. It certainly distracted me for a while. (I'm wearing the shorts and I just have to say: they are cute.) When my glasses come in, I think I'll enjoy the perky red frames. And let me be honest here: the adoring attention of the woman at the glasses boutique was delightful ("Wow - those really make your eyes pop!" "Oh, those brighten your skin tone!"). This is why they can charge so much more than Sears Optical.

Now it's Saturday night, and I'm still without my son and still feeling spiritually adrift about my life in general and still wishing my closest friends were closer in location. Like all distractions, shopping's effect lasts only so long. What if, instead of shopping, I had spent those same hours: doing yoga, journaling, helping an older neighbor, doing something creative, reading the Bible, reading a novel, working on a Habitat House, even visiting my father (intead of snapping at him on the phone, which I did this morning).

Of course I know that one day of shopping therapy is not a huge deal. God knows I've done much, much worse in my life. And I know that even if I had not gone shopping, there's no guarantee I would have done something more productive or helpful or creative or grounding. But it occurs to me that when one is suffering from self-absorption, shopping is probably not the best antidote. Maybe I'm writing this to remind myself: OK, that was fun. Now, what are you going to do tomorrow?

12 comments:

pj said...

For the love of all that is holy, please don't beat yourself up over indulging in a little shopping therapy. If that was the worst thing anyone ever did, this would be a lovely world.

Besides which, geez, it's not like you were buying gold-plated musical toilet seat covers or anything!

lj said...

See, I knew you would say this, PJ. That's why I put in the photo. So you'd know I wasn't taking any of this too seriously.

pj said...

Oh no! I'm predictable! Sorry.

Diane said...

shopping therapy... I'm sad to say I've indulged... it usually leaves me full of "stuff" and emptier than ever.

Great, thoughtful post.

Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your sharing, lj... only emptiness can fill emptiness...E.

PeaceBang said...

I LOVE shopping! (I just thought you needed an alternative voice in here).

And I'm glad you got wonderful, snazzy new glasses! Listen, honey, as you know... I'm of the firm belief that some of our sisters and brothers could truly benefit from getting their butts out to the mall and acquiring some new and more flattering garments.

I mean, gimme a break... we're not so holy that we don't live in this world. For those who eschew all shopping all the time, I have this to say:
1) I don't believe you, big old pious head.
2) I'm guessing that you're schlumping around looking like hell.

Ooooh, we PB is very full of P&V today!!

Rock on with your new purchses. May you enjoy them!!

pj said...

What PeaceBang said!

BTW LJ, I hope I wasn't coming off as anti-shopping! I just meant that your purchases were too sensible to even be considered "therapy!"

lj said...

PB, You are always full of P&V which is why we love you! Thanks so much for coming over and commenting.

And yes, I love my new purchases. Honest to Pete, I do and I haven't even cracked open the wine and chocolate yet. And the new green that I'm seeing everywhere this year -- perfect for my eyes. (Which are blue, but it works, trust me). Linen slacks to work tomorrow in hopes that the very cute landlord-boy will stop by to fix our toilet. We need a new innards and a new seat -- but not gold-plated or musical.

Ed said...

PeaceBang does sort of put it all in perspective somehow.

BTW, LJ, it is clear that you are not a Southern California Girl. None of us has any shopping guilt. Ever. Er, almost ever. I do have this armoire that's about twice too big for any room in my apartment. But it was a bargain.

lj said...

How right you are, Ed. I am a small-town Midwestern girl. I've lived in several huge cities and various regions of the country since I fled at 18, but honestly, you can't take the Midwestern out of the girl.

tribalchurch said...

I once had a therapist who said, "One good reason to have money is to enjoy it."

I was shocked. Utterly. I'd never really let myself enjoy money before. I still have a hard time doing it.

But I can say that after that session, I quit going to the therapist and started spending more money at the mall!

lj said...

tribalchurch, that is hilarious! (quitting therapy to go to the mall, that is). thanks for coming over.