One of the ladies that I used to train one to one, now comes to my 'village hall' group instead. After the last class, the sun was shining and she was in no hurry to leave so we went for a walk. I asked her if I could do a post about some parts of what we talked about, and she said that she was more than happy if she thought it could help someone else avoid some of the mistakes that she has made and could help her deal with her own problems.
She told me that her husband had been offered redundancy or a pay cut and due to his age and the uncertainty of the employment market, he had taken the latter. Their household income had dropped by 30% overnight and they have a sizeable mortgage and two children who are happy and settled in private schools. Something had to give.
Except, in her heart of hearts, she knew that the only reason that they were facing the dilemma of downsizing their house or moving the children to the local school (fantastic primary, but not so good for their secondary aged kids), was because she had spent the last fifteen years spending freely and not thinking life would or could ever change that much.
She said 'I used to congratulate myself for NOT heading off to Bicester Village and spending hundreds on designer clothes like many of my friends did, and yet every time I went into town I would visit Zara and spend may be £50, and it became a habit that was almost as consistent as buying a coffee at Starbucks. I thought I was being canny when I bought my son his swimming shorts from H & M, not the matching men's and boy's pairs from Villebrequin which even at Bicester would have cost around £90. Although of course when I got to H & M there were the matching sunglasses and T shirts and flips flops and a bikini and accessories for his sister to wear too. So by the time I have finished the £5.99 shorts were nearer £60.'
'I think that shopping replaced my overeating, when I didn't have much cash and pre children, I was quite overweight and my pleasure basically came from food and tv. My social life peaked when my children were young, as I had loads of friends from all of the baby classes, and NCT and so on. We were all doing the same thing at the same time, we had so much in common that we bonded very quickly. Most days I would meet up with mums either at a coffee bar or at someone's house. I was busy and fulfilled and even started to do exercise as the children got older. I didn't really think about food and with hindsight, I have to say, I particularly didn't think about it when I was shopping. '
'I love magazines and when I was younger I would often see something in a magazine, buy it, and I definitely got a kick out of putting my daughter into a dress that had been featured on the front of Junior, or wearing something that I might have read about in Easy Living. I would undoubtedly think about that and get a slight 'buzz' of satisfaction each time I used it. '
'Over the last three years I have got really caught up in the blog world. I love everything about it, I actually prefer it to the 'perfect' magazines. I like blogs that are glamorous and polished, but I also like it when it is real people just showing what they are wearing. But now I shop a lot more often and feel a 'need' to buy more things, although in reality, like most people we don't 'need' anything at all. It's just that when I see something that I like, I think about the blogs I have been reading and what they have been buying, and if others are shopping most of the time, surely I can too?'
'And so it leaves us where we are today, with wardrobes overflowing with rubbish that we don't need and our house at risk. I could kick myself. But the worrying thing is that I can't promise that I will stop my twice a week jaunt into Zara, it has become such a defining part of who I am, and I realise how pathetic and spoiled that sounds.'
Does anyone else feel like this about shopping? My stock answer to this is always just exercise more, you won't have the time or energy to go into town and your endorphins will be buzzing all day so you won't need to get your 'happy fix' from spending money. But this is an area where I am unfamiliar and out of my depth.
Has anyone else ever experienced a kind of shopping addiction/ slightly unhealthy 'love' of shopping and how have you developed coping strategies that have helped you to deal with it? Please put any tips that you have in the comments box, however small, as my friend is open to trying anything.