Do I need therapy for my therapy?

I would not describe myself as a shopaholic. I am not that extreme. But I could definitely be considered a shopper. It’s in my jeans.

My mother was totally a shopper. You could probably refer to her as the Queen Bee of shoppers. She gleefully put together a fall, winter and spring wardrobe every season. I think she chose her last residence for its proximity to Chicos, Talbots and Coldwater Creek that were just down the block. The Jewish Community Center was nearby as well.

My sisters and I have definitely inherited her propensity for supporting the economy (not to mention a definite resemblance in the good looks and charm department as well). We got a lot of practice growing up.

I can remember many a childhood evening spent with my mother and sisters at Southern California’s Buena Park Mall. We tried on clothes at the local Sears, J. J. Newberries and smaller clothing shops. We’d always stop half way through our excursion and call my father from the pay phone in the middle of the mall to let him know we were going to be a few more hours.

I think he was happy for the time to himself and the quiet calm in our home on these evenings. Three Gershun girls can make a lot of noise.

These days my oldest sister does most of her buying online. The younger one is more like our mother and a regular at Kohl’s and T.J. Maxx and always happy to take us there when we visit since we do not have those gold mines in the shopping arena in Hawaii.

I fall somewhere in between.

A few years ago I began to refer to it as retail therapy, noticing the  positive emotional payoff after a satisfactory excursion to Pearlridge Mall or Ala Moana Center.

I definitely took that form of therapy to an extreme after a few major life changing incidents like divorcing my first husband or several years later breaking up with my new boyfriend when we were dating before we made up and he became my second husband.

My overwhelming feelings during those difficult times were not assuaged by the purchase of a new pair of shoes or a cute jacket. They required much grander gestures: redecorating or buying moderately expensive jewelry.

Over the past few years I have tempered my shopping habits. The combination of only needing a wardrobe for one season in Hawaii, trying to stick to a budget along with a concerted effort at trying to be satisfied with what I have usually work to keep me from visiting the local stores and malls a bit more than I used to.

However, recently I have been shopping up a storm.

When I told my friend Linda about this and that I had several things to return at Macy’s, she said that she does that a lot too. She referred to it as “Bulimic Shopping.” It totally made sense.

I also got this from my mother and I know that my younger sister does it a lot too. I purchase way more clothes than I need or convince myself that it looks good on me in the fitting room. When I get home, I realize that I was fooling myself and wonder, “What was I thinking?” So I take it back.

Some times I simply find something that I like better and buy it knowing that I can return the other stuff later.

I started to look at my recent shopping patterns and have clearly identified myself as a bulimic shopper.

Binge and purge.

If you saw all of the receipts stuffed in my wallet you might be inclined to think that I am a hoarder!

In my defense I will mention that I recently lost a bunch of weight (25 pounds, thank you very much) and am in need of new clothes. The old ones are two sizes too big. So I deserve a bit of shopping for a stylish wardrobe to hang in my closet and from my now visible hip bones. It’s a reasonable reward.

But I’ve been doing that buy and return thing A LOT!

Perhaps the shopping is also replacing the eating? It certainly takes my mind off of the food. Some times I go so far as to consider it exercise too. If I shop for an hour is it an hour of walking? Do you think I should seek professional help?

However you look at it: genetic propensity, retail therapy, bingeing and purging,  if not taken to the extreme, shopping  can both fill the basic need to be clothed (in a moderately fashionable) way) and be a reasonable form of recreation.

So, thank you mom and sisters and Linda for sharing this habit and its many symptoms. I do believe I will drop the kids off tomorrow at Religious school and hit the mall….just for an hour or so.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara Dawson
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 21:01:15

    Lorrie, I was particularly interested in this, as I have had a similar
    habit/compulsion/pursuit/whatever in the past and discussed it
    with my nephew on the Dawson side (who is a practicing psycologist..)
    I used to shop for small things that I didn’t really need, but it satisfied
    that urge to prove that “everything is all right”…..even when it wasn’t!
    That’s a little different from what you three and Gloria enjoyed….which is
    more like just recreational shopping. Anyway, I sure enjoyed the
    fun we all had looking around in the stores in K.C. last May. Barb

    Reply

    • Being Jewish in Hawaii
      Nov 07, 2011 @ 19:15:49

      I definitely think that shopping is a good way to make sure everything is in order which it never is and never can be no matter how hard I try! Maybe I just need to shop more. Love from the youngest Gershun Girl.

      Reply

  2. Hal W
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 17:52:02

    Lorrie,
    Congratulations on your weight loss. You are an inspiration, You and your sidekick posses a great deal of discipline. You even show it with your Shopping Therapy.
    Love, Hal

    Reply

  3. Luau Party Supplies
    Nov 30, 2011 @ 18:19:36

    This was great. Thanks for taking the time to share this with us. I am going to go tweet it right now.

    Reply

  4. Ahmnodt Heare
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 17:57:39

    Since you now shop for one season, do you have a larger one-season wardrobe or do you have the same-sized seasonal wardrobe but shop more frequently?

    Reply

  5. Ponikaa Girl
    Dec 11, 2011 @ 19:54:45

    Guilty of a shopping addiction in my jeans, too. Love the whole bulimic term. Do you think like the eating disorder, women are more susceptible to binge-purge shopping than men? Curiouser and curiouser.

    Reply

    • Being Jewish in Hawaii
      Dec 11, 2011 @ 19:59:53

      Welcome. Nice to hear from you. I think it has to do with what you are shopping for. I know a man who won’t go near a mall. Perhaps there is a disorder like being afraid of heights, but it is afraid of malls. But, he LOVES to go to Home Depot and could shop there every weekend. I agree, curious. Will have to think on this one. Hope you are having a nice day.

      Reply

  6. marilynmendoza
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 21:46:28

    I shop once a year but then I really enjoy it and buy quality stuff. I used to love shopping more when I was younger but now I am more into buying on line than meeting other shoppers that closely. I could blame this on my agoraphobia but I am kind of healed and it never bothered me before. I was in the shopping zone. Now I am older and poorer. lol Happy Channukah

    Reply

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