Resurfacing and Starting an Accountability Closet Inventory.

It’s funny, I lost this blog. And I lost myself for a while. I was wandering lost in the dark shadows of my shopping compulsion, and I got stuck there for a while. But. I’m back, ready to be more accountable and face the aspects of myself I don’t like the most. I am a compulsive shopper. I love shopping. But, I am still a good person. I am still smart and beautiful and funny and a good friend and a good spouse. I have spent such a long time hating this aspect of myself but it’s time to re-frame a bit. It is part of me. It has done me some good, even thought I don’t like to admit it. My closet is full of beautiful things. But, my closet does not define me.

I started doing a closet inventory a year ago and it was eye opening and totally embarrassing. I am going to do it again, and actually finish it. I wrote down all the skirts I owned and realized I could wear a different skirt for over a month, and I was just getting started! So I wore every skirt I owned for a month and at the end of the day I decided to keep it or get rid of it. It was a start. During this process I was reading the Recovering Shopaholic’s blog thinking she’s not bad a all. I have WAY more stuff then that. Good grief. Don’t tell anyone! But I’m going to come clean. It’s ok. No more shame. And I will get the willingness and courage to begin paring down to a more manageable level. I want my clothes to fit in my closet without being jammed in there. I want the clothes hanging in my closet to be seasonal and to fit my current body. I want to have enough room and hangers to have all of my clothes put away if they were all clean at once. This isn’t the way things currently are.

As someone who’s size has fluctuated over the year, it is challenging to pare down your closet when you have many things that don’t fit. Or when you have a whole closet of things that are too small. I have weighed more and I have weighed less. I have gained about 10-15 lbs in the last  year which isn’t a huge amount, but it is enough that I have almost an entire size 12 wardrobe that I can’t wear. I am a solid 14 now, and still have a great body, but have had to get larger sizes and I have packed up the things that are too snug. I am working on losing the weight I have gained but until I get there I am accepting that I am just fine the way I am and I currently have plenty of things to wear at this size. When I realized I had gained too much weight to fit into my old wardrobe I went on a shopping bender to replenish what I had lost. It was a mourning of sorts. The frantic feelings are gone, but it’s time to stop the accumulating.

So speaking of skirts let’s start there: Let’s do the numbers. I currently have 20 skirts in my closet. After going through them I am keeping 15 in my closet. Here’s a skirt story: I was having some fear that I didn’t have a a black twirly skirt for an upcoming trip and my mind started racing about needing to find one. And you know what, if I had just looked in my closet I would have found that I have everything I need. I am taken care of. But the compulsive brain often forgets to do the obvious and the logical. When you have too much you forget what you have and you start to experience scarcity. Its crazy! Anyway I have started my inventory on an excel spread sheet but will give some brief information here. Do you want the details? I know you do:. Here are my skirts that currently fit and are in my closet. Do they bring me joy? Stay tuned:

Closet Inventory February 2015: Skirts*

  1. Limited lined black pencil skirt, 14
  2. Limited lined navy pencil skirt (part of my interview suit), 14
  3. Limited lined dark gray pencil skirt, 14
  4. ATL, purple patterned pencil skirt, 14
  5. AT black/tan geometric lace overlay skirt, 12
  6. Notations black twirly skirt :), petite large
  7. ON dark denim pencil skirt, 12
  8. NY&C black and white geometric patterned pencil skirt, 14. NWT. SERIOUSLY? I can’t believe I haven’t worn this.
  9. Liz Claiborne, black and white dot pencil skirt, 14. (A bit snug.) NWT. Again-this is eye-opening. This is so cute. I am wearing it tomorrow.
  10. Apt. 9 black and gray lace stretchy pull on pencil skirt, L (a bit snug)
  11. Apt. 9 black cotton pencil skirt, 12 (a bit snug)
  12. Apt. 9 purple pencil skirt, 12 (a bit snug)
  13. Limited (vintage!) dark brown lined pencil skirt, 12.  (a bit snug, but wearable)
  14. AT (thrifted) tweed black/gray/tan pencil skirt, 14. A huge favorite!
  15. ATL magenta/red pencil skirt, 14.
  16. ON blue and black striped pull on pencil skirt, XL. A current favorite.

As I went through these and tried them on I only kept items that fit well and made me feel good in my closet. I ended up packing a lot of things up that were a bit snug. Ironically, many of these things I paid a lot of money to alter down a size last year or I have perhaps grown out of  style wise (2 Boden A-line skirts; an ATL size 12 lined black pencil skirt (the first black skirt I ever bought in my adult life, for a funeral years ago in my 20s!;  a Marshalls find years ago-dark denim dress pencil skirt; a thrifted Talbots dark denim skirt, L (a huge favorite when it fits-people I don’t know randomly come up to me and compliment me when I wear this; and a gap navy pencil skirt, 12). It feels really good to only have skirts I love and that fit well hanging in my closet. No more uncertainty or worry about grabbing something that will be too small and being at the gym in the morning post workout and not being able to get my skirt zipped.

I’m not going to worry about making sure the skirts that are too small will fit by a certain point in time-that will send me to the mall for sure. I don’t need to replace them right now as I have plenty to wear in the meantime. Sure, I don’t have ALL THE COLORS or all the styles or possibilities, but I have enough. Enough. And you can only wear one skirt at a time! It seems so simple, yet easy to not understand in a practical sense.

I know that a few of them are too tight and will have to wait for some weight to come off. But the truth is I have many awesome skirts now and I will have many awesome skirts then without needing to acquire more. I can wear a different skirt to work for three weeks straight, if we count just M-F. That’s nuts! Right? It is. I’m not going to wear a skirt everyday this week, but I am going to wear at least one or two and make a decision at the end of the day about where it falls. Love it Now. Maybe Later. Gone for Good. If I get rid of something I know I will have to take some time to let it go so that I do not run off and fill the void right away. I may not get rid of everything, but if I’m feeling like buying a new skirt I have two brand new ones in my closet that need some love. My life is so abundant in the clothing department-so why do I always want more clothes? It’s just who I am.

* I know I have a few more skirts that are more seasonal items–some maxi skirts and A-line skirts packed up that likely fit but are only worn in summer/spring or on warm weather vacations. I will address these at a later date. But remembering that they exist is important to curb impulsive purchases of things that are not currently hanging in my closet. Here they are from memory:

Off-season Skirts

  1. Blue/white diagonal striped maxi skirt
  2. Black and white patterned maxi skirt
  3. Merona gray/black pink striped maxi skirt (a favorite)
  4. Flying Tomato black/pink/yellow/multi colored maxi skirt (certain this is too small right now)
  5. Black A-line twirly skirt
  6. Horny Toad Navy/Grayish A-line twirly skirt.

There you have it. I can’t believe I’ve written this much about skirts.

My monthly promise/goal: Stay out of the Mall that is near my workplace. Just for February, which is the shortest month anyway! What will I do instead? I will workout on my lunch break. Read on my lunch break. Write on my lunch break. After work I will go HOME (shocker!). Get together with friends. Enjoy my hobbies. Have down time. Keep my home clean and organized. I will respect my time.

It’s good to be back.

Just for Today-Simple But Easy.

Today I wanted to shop so badly. I was online last night and wanted to buy crap because it was half off at my favorite store. I filled up my online shopping cart, a few hundred dollars worth, and I kept thinking you don’t want to do this. This is not the next right step. Wait 24 hours. So I did. And this morning when I woke up and the sale was gone I was pissed. Ridiculous! I was in such a bad mood. So I did the next right thing. I called my sponsor. Both of them actually and let them into my life so that I did not have to be alone. I committed to not going shopping at anytime today and instead I would workout. I knew I was headed for trouble today when I had a thought of canceling social plans that involved exercise to go to the mall to look at a thing.

That is not the life I want to have . This line from the big book which arrived in my daily big book email on Saturday really spoke to me. This is what it said. It blew my mind.

“Simple, but not easy; a price had to be paid. It meant destruction of self-centeredness. I must turn in all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all. ” P.14. My addictive actions are me destroying my life through self-centeredness. I can’t think of anything worse. I don’t want to pay that price. I want to destroy my self-centeredness instead of have it destroy me. I am giving my will AND my life over to my higher power to care for me and show me the best path out of self-centeredness. I don’t know about tomorrow, but I know I am doing it just for today.

I am powerless over money and shopping and my life had become unmanageable. Help me God to be the best person I can be. I give my life to you today. Thank you for showing me the next right step, and I thank myself for being able to listen and hear the guidance I received.

Peace.

Let’s Start Stopping

It’s time to make a change. A real change. I am sick of being dragged down by my stuff and spending my time in pursuit of something that I already have. An awesome life.

As the words of the Big Book says addiction is where you can’t stop from starting and can’t stop once you start, so I thought, maybe I’ll try to start stopping and to do this I need an accountability tool. I need to write. I need to be open. The solution is spiritual, but I need to document my journey in a way that it feels more real. I need a tangible place to deal with the mess. So here I am.

I want to stop shopping so much. I shop way too much. I’m a compulsive shopper and hate that about myself. I LOVE TO SHOP. I want to stop. I want to appreciate What I have. Who is in my life. Where I live. How my life is amazing. Live in the Now and be present in my life. I have an addictive personality and I struggle with believing and feeling like I have enough. I heard a mantra a year ago- “I have Enough, I am Enough, I do Enough.” I want to live as if I truly believe it. As a member of several 12-step programs (DA and OA and a fringe member of Al-Anon) I know that the path to recovery in my life is a spiritual one, at least I’m coming to believe that. If you would have told me that would be my answer a couple years ago I would have run cackling from you in the other direction. My vises are food and shopping. I love to eat and cook. I love to spend money and shop. That’s just the way it is. These can be ok vices…but with the food obsession being lifted the shopping drive is bearing it’s ugly head.

Two weeks ago my spouse and I paid off all of our consumer debt, thousands and thousands of it (we could have bought a brand new car)-we had been working on paying it off for over a year and I want to keep it that way. I also recently relapsed in my recovery with food a couple months ago, am abstinent again, and want it to stay that way. I need to share my story in a way that is more personal and documented to ensure I have accountability and a trail for me to reflect on. Hence this blog.

Overeaters Anonymous and Debtors Anonymous have changed my life and I hope to reach others who deal with dual addictions. The main goal of this blog will be to focus on living in recovery and being relieved of these obsessions.

I have so much in my life. I have a lot of love, friends, and wonderful experiences. But I get dragged down by this feeling that it isn’t enough and I go searching for something else, in the food or in the mall. I had 1.5 years of abstinence from compulsive overeating and I had hoped that my shopping problem would go away. I thought when I lost weight I wouldn’t need to or want to buy new clothing as much, that I would be happy just to be slimmer, but that’s not been the case. I still like to shop way too much. When I relapsed in the food a couple months ago I realized I had to really take a close look at how these two addictions went hand in hand. I looked online for blogs about this topic and there were none. So I decided to write one in the hopes that I can stay recovered and that I might reach just one person who knows they are not alone in dealing with this.

My goals are a bit scary to write down, but here they are. I have this crazy idea that I will wear everything I own at least once before bringing in a single new thing. If I want to bring something new in, three old things have to go. I want a more manageable closet and a more manageable life. I want to appreciate the abundance in my life and share that with others. I’m not sure if that’s crazy or the way I need to break ties with this addiction. I’m still pondering it. For now, here is my commitment. I will not buy anything new just for today. All we have is today.

If you are curious at all about twelve step programs I encourage you to check them out. Get a sponsor-I have two kick ass sponsors-and they kick my ass, and it’s sooooo good. I love these wonderful strong people that have given me so much of themselves. I also sponsor and in doing that I am able to keep the recovery I have been given. We only get to keep what we give away.

A few first steps. I’m going to inventory my closet. The numbers will be horrendous, but it’s a start. I did this last summer, when I did the Skirt Project (where I wore ever skirt I had before I wore anything else…I had over 40 skirts. You know what happened? I got f’in SICK of skirts!). But it was a good exercise in the realizing the excess in my life.

I might to something like that again…I’m still mulling it over. If I wore all of my jewelry before shopping again I wouldn’t shop for years. But I worry I’d relapse big time if I did something like that, so I’ll do some more thinking and ask my higher power what the next right step is to do. I know the first right step is to stop buying. Just stop. And start looking at what’s underneath. I’ve said I’m going to, but this time I really am going to start working through April Benson’s book, To Buy or Not to Buy. I’m not going to post photos of outfits as this is not a fashion blog, although I do love fashion. But I may talk about what I’m wearing and if it should stay in my life. My goal is to keep this blog going for a year and see what happens, because what I’m doing isn’t working. It’s time to stop that and start this.

Join me.