Sure, yes, maybe buying a new outfit is more acceptable than drinking away your pain because I can present an argument that those new jeans/boots/earrings will be useful for me at some point in the near future. But let’s face it, it’s much more about the hit of dopamine I get from acquiring a brand new outfit (and therefore a brand new me) than actually not having anything to wear.
There’s nothing like having to drag everything out of the bottom of your wardrobe because you are moving house, and being confronted with – I kid you not – six only-subtly-different pairs of black boots, to make you realise you might have a problem.
The easy thing to do here is to declutte – a thing that I’ve done a number of different times during my adult life. Each decluttering episode is combined with a period of reading minimalist blogs and announcing that my life will be different. But my problem has never been with the number of things I own. It’s always been about the number of things that I buy.
Of course, the two are linked. Decluttering feels like doing something, and shopping also feels like doing something, and I need to make sure I am always doing something to avoid sitting and dealing with my feelings. Because the feelings are uncomfortable at best, and at their worst are far more painful than my thigh tattoo was.
But all that decluttering does is make room for my shopping, and means that when I’m having a bad day, I can convince myself that I need something to wear to my mother-in-law’s birthday dinner, or my best friend’s hen party, or whatever else I have lined up at the weekend. Then I can head out shopping, feel like I’ve achieved something, and ignore that uncomfortable feeling at the edge of my mind until another day.
But you know what isn’t doing something? Being content with how I already look and what I already have. I mean, what do people who are happy even do with their time?
Having to move house twice during the last month has made me realise that I probably have enough clothes to last me from now until the end of the world. But to be honest, going on a shopping ban doesn’t have a lot to do with clothes. It’s about reminding me that I don’t need to rush around the high street when I feel like I have nothing to wear. Instead, I need to to go home, put the kettle on, curl up on the sofa and have a good cry.
Right now, I have everything I need. But sometimes that’s the hardest thing to admit.