The last thing I expected after confronting my decades-long shopping addiction was being able to enjoy shopping again. Yet, after coping with the emotional root of my problem and contending with my unmanageable debt, I found myself experiencing a renewed love of shopping that was no longer marked by running away from difficult emotions or looking for definitions of self-worth in the newest "it" product.
But this is exactly what shopping addicts do: They run away from their conscious selves, hide behind a mountain of stuff and seek the approval of others through their purchases. For nearly 15 years, this had been my standard operating procedure. And though, for a portion of that time, I managed to juggle it all into something that reasonably resembled the life of a successful freelance writer living in New York City (Carrie Bradshaw, anyone?), internally I was a cocktail of self-doubt, fear and sadness.
It's not surprising that I ended up asking myself: "How could a woman with a closet so full feel so empty inside?" According to researchers, nearly one in 20 Americans has a compulsive shopping disorder, and therapists saytheir compulsive behavior often can be traced to a lack, a desire to fill a void.
When I realized that I had gazed into that abyss for long enough, I mustered the strength to make a change. With my financial life in shambles, the first step was to seek credit counseling. This, as it turned out, was to be the least difficult aspect of my recovery. The more challenging issue would be facing myself. What had I really been shopping for all those years?
In tracing my earliest brushes with impulse buying to a time directly following my mother's sudden and untimely death, I realized that I had been shopping to avoid facing my grief. I also came to realize that I had been hiding behind a mask of perfection—trying to appear perfect on the outside had been a foil to deflect from how imperfect I felt inside.
These self-discoveries were not only gratifying but they also proved to be the key to successfully combating my addiction. My road to recovery involved a lot of soul-searching, looking into my past, reuniting with my family, long walks in the park to stave off shopping hunger pangs, cleaning out unhealthy relationships and my closet, meditation and eventually adopting a new approach to shopping that involved mindfulness. What she discovered about mindful shopping