I saw a commercial today with Brooke Shields, advertising a new medical wonder cream that makes your eyelashes grow in thicker. Following the list of potential side effects, a friendly voice chimed, "Consult your doctor to see if FluffyEyes (or whatever it was called) is right for you!".
Considering Brooke's most recent claim to fame is her book Down Came the Rain about her struggle with postpartum depression, I'd say she should probably consult, not just her doctor, but her psychiatrist. Because, honey, if you're trying to fix things by pharmaceutically plumping your eyelashes, you need to get back in that chair and have a long talk.
A nice long talk is exactly what I had, too, recently- with myself. To be honest, if things had continued on the path I was hitting, I probably would have headed back to my doctor, too.
I've hesitated to bring this out in the open, considering I made a very unsuccessful attempt at a spending freeze in the past. Money has been very much on my mind lately. While I am not immune to the current financial state of things in neighborhoods just like mine, I find that my own personal struggle with the dollar has less to do with the economy and more to do with the soothing nature of mindless excess.
A few weeks ago, I found myself wandering the aisles at Target once again--for the 4th time that day. I didn't need anything, I hadn't bothered to make up an excuse for shopping, like shoes for the girls or cheap cereal. I was just THERE. A lot. The moment culminated in a surge of personal disgust that nearly had me upchucking on the health and beauty products. I put it all down, whatever it was in my little basket, and left. By the time I got halfway past the check-out stands I was nearly running and by the time I reached my car, I was crying.
Possibly something was not right here.
I don't shop expensively, I don't shop in big gulps of shocking amounts. I whittle away: face cream here, pair of cheap shoes there, new bargain purse, drive-thru noshes instead of PB&J. The illusion of being thrifty builds up until the end of the month. Then I can't meet Kurt's eyes and my purse feels heavy from small change receipts and I swear (unsuccessfully) that next month, I'll be more aware, more careful.
I feel terrible when I shop, too, did you know that? It's not fun. I feel pressured, short of breath and time, anxious both when I buy something and when I don't. The problem is, thinking about it and going out to do it feels just as calming as actually shopping does not.
I have edged away from this topic even as it has grown larger in my view. There's nothing so fun as proudly announcing a new challenge and then failing miserably (as I did a while ago). But I am sitting here weeks away from that nauseating moment in Target and I can firmly say that I have not been back.
It's not about the money, it has never been about the money. Quite frankly, though, it should be. Otherwise I am just another stereotypical spoiled housewife with a car full of shopping bags, willfully ignorant and blatantly indulgent. I have a comfortable life, I am an intelligent person and I know better.
So here's what it comes down to, a question not of what I don't need but what I do. Obviously I'm not talking about deciding between name brand and generic- the truth is there's no doubt about whether or not what I buy is necessary, regardless of the decision I make in that moment. I'm not talking about things at all.
I need to be able to meet Kurt's eyes when he balances the family budget. I need my daughter to know that happiness does not come from a big superstore aimed straight at her integrity. My mind, though healthy now, still has a current underneath waiting to carry me off in a stream of self-disgust. To stay above that I have learned to be proactive, preventive and honest. You can imagine the irritation it's been to find myself once again sabotaging my own stability.
My focus now is not so much on a spending freeze (though you can bet that's a big part of it) but at having enough self-awareness not to try and fill up empty spaces with a pile of packaging, advertising, illusion...and FluffyEyes.