Generally speaking, I try not to shop very much. That’s not to say that I’m always successful, but I do try to be very conscious of what I buy and why. Usually it’s books or household items. The books are because I enjoy reading, it’s inexpensive entertainment, and I think there’s great value in having a store of books on hand from fiction to reference. The household items are because I love taking care of my home and appreciate using nice and useful house and kitchenware. Other than that, though, I do try to keep the shopping to a minimum.
This hasn’t been the case recently, though. As my marriage was falling apart, I was shopping myself silly.
Initially I was shopping as a distraction. Over the past few months hitting the thrift stores meant I was getting out for a bit of exercise in the form of a bike ride and then allowing myself an hour or two of distraction where I wasn’t thinking about everything that was going on or sitting on my computer obsessively reading sites on how to save your marriage. Then, once J. left, I was shopping as a way to remake myself and my home for what felt like a huge life transition. I was buying some clothes (partly to make sure I had pants that fit after the nearly 20 pound weight loss), some craft supplies (stuff to do with my hands), and a whole lot of household goods (to revamp the apartment and replace things that I’d rather not have around anymore).
In my defense, all of my shopping was secondhand. I wasn’t contributing to the market for new goods to be produced. It was also very inexpensive, too, so there wasn’t much in the way of savings account depletion either. But I was shopping all the same. I was buying into the mentality that shopping was an acceptable way to deal with my problems and that because things were rough I deserved to have new things to make myself feel better. Both mentalities are ones that I usually try to avoid, but it’s easy to see how they feel incredibly comforting when things are tough. Shopping is easy, distracting, and feels like a form of self-care and given everything that was going on, I don’t really feel all that bad about it in context.
So, what did I buy? Truthfully, it would probably be easier to talk about what I didn’t buy, but in the interest of full disclosure and keeping myself at least somewhat accountable, here’s a brief overview of what four months of stress-induced secondhand retail therapy looks like in my world.
Furniture: two walnut chairs, two bookcases, two pine side tables, brass floor lamp, pottery table lamp, tiered table, metal filing shelf
Kitchenware: food processor, blender, shears, two pottery plates, four pottery mugs, four pottery bowls, ten crystal glasses, two jadeite egg cups, magnetic knife rack, two pottery jugs, three tea tins, knife sharpener, four settings of cutlery
Linens: two wool blankets, wool mattress pad, five throw pillows, eight linen napkins, three towels, bathmat
Decor: dozens of candles, two pottery vases, Hermes typewriter, five picture frames, large basket, small basket
Entertainment: two cookbooks, ten novels, two board games, puzzle
Clothing and accessories: three pair of jeans, black pants, sweatshirt, canvas travel bag, two canvas tote bags, laptop bag, Converse sneakers, leather boots, running shorts, running top
Craft supplies: three pairs of knitting needles, 18 balls of wool, five yards wool fabric, five sewing patterns
I know I was just going to thrift store so often that I was bound to find things I was looking for, but there were times when it felt the thrift gods were throwing every thrift desire I’ve had over the last few months my way. I’ve knocked jadeite, Otagiri blue horizon, metal filing unit, vintage blender, food processor, and The Flavor Bible off my ongoing “let’s keep an eye out for this at the thrift store” list.
Of course none of this makes anything tangibly better. Shopping was a distraction, and all the stuff in the world won’t magically fix anything. On the positive side, I’m feeling less like shopping all the time and more like getting back to focusing on the important things in life. But to start with, I should probably tidy up around here and figure out where to put all this stuff…