About as close as I came to a New Year’s Resolution at the start of 2014 was to tell myself I wanted to get my spending and shopping under control.* And I think I made some progress on that front for a little while. But I’ve kinda fallen off the wagon during the last couple of weeks.**
Now, part of this is entirely justifiable: some special people have birthdays and graduations coming up, so there were presents to buy. But then there’s a lot else, and I could provide (manufacture?) justifications for those purchases, but it’s very much on thinner ice.
I mean, yes, those new books could provide useful information aiding my professional growth and knowledge base. But there’s also lots of other books I already own, and a whole other bunch I could borrow from the office library, that would also aid my professional growth and knowledge base. So why was it necessary to purchase these?
Similar critiques and questions could be asked about other recent purchases, but I don’t feel like going to that level of public self-flagellation. Besides, I want to be able to sometimes do things for joy or pure pleasure — and sometimes that might mean buying something for the pure joy the item will bring me rather than for some more rational gain. It’s just when I do too much of that, and when it’s not even particularly joyful, that I need to be cautious with myself.
Often for me, the temptation to buy something else comes from an internal anxiety about being somehow lacking, insufficient, ill-equipped to face my world and my life. Perhaps I’m having some stress and failures at work, and I start thinking that maybe if I read the right book, I can fix that. Or maybe I’m feeling ugly or ashamed of my fatness, and I fall into the fantasy that the right outfit (or cosmetics, or jewelry) will make me more “acceptable” or “presentable” to the world at large.
Can I just pause for a moment to bemoan the ways that so many of my wounds boil down to that sense of being “not enough”? Notice the phrasing for this particular construct: I am looking to acquire the right thing, because I am looking for the thing that will serve as curative or antidote to my own assumed wrongness.
Anyhow, I’m sensing that there’s some inside-out connection between the successful completion of my HCG shots and this latest stretch of feeling inadequate and trying to bury my insufficiency under a pile of new things. ‘Cos this week: reaching a key finish line, completing my shots, beginning to expand my food quantities and choices — has all felt really anti-climactic.
I’ve had these sorts of moments in the past. Something really big and good has happened: new marriage, new job, new house, what-have-you. And it’s exciting and all, but there’s also a weird tinge of disappointment, because that great new thing, however big and dramatically cool it may be, doesn’t ever stop me from being me.
And when the operating fiction that rules my self-image is so tightly locked into the lie that I’m not enough? Then still being me feels very disappointing, indeed.
When all is said and done, I still think I’m keeping a teeny-tiny bit ahead of this stretch of acquisitiveness: more purchases have been useful than not, and the overall pace of things has me purging more old stuff out of the house than I’ve been bringing new stuff in. And I’m hopeful that waking myself up to the ways I’ve fallen (at least temporarily) back into this old pattern will enable me to step away from this behavior. At least, until my next “relapse.”***
And maybe someday I’ll have detoxed enough where I’m no longer so susceptible to the lie of being not good enough.
Definitely something to keep praying for and working towards.
* Which, like so many New Year’s Resolutions around the world and throughout the years, is the kind of thing I’ve told myself, and failed at, before…
** See previous note re: New Year’s Resolutions and their rate of failure.
*** See both previous notes re: New Year’s Resolutions and their rate of failure.