I have to come clean. I have a real problem and I don’t know how to get over it. Some people do drugs. Others are addicted to exercise or prescription painkillers. Some people over-eat or under-eat or find themselves in abusive relationships. Let’s face it. Nobody gets through this life unscathed. “Everyone has a story,” someone once told me. I believe that to be true. And while some stories are epic sagas, others are more like comic-book narratives. Mine, on the other hand, resembles one of those Nordstrom catalogues that show up every few weeks in your snail mail box.
My problem is shopping. Not just “walk into a store, need a new pair of pumps” shopping. I’m talking about obsessive, on-line, “can’t go to sleep until I find whatever obscure item I’ve decidedly set my sights upon” shopping.
A few nights ago, I was up half the night in search of a vintage pair of men’s socks that I wanted to buy my husband for Father’s Day. Another night last week, I roamed through columns of ebay listings for the perfect dog collars for my two dogs. (I’d noticed shortly before bedtime that their collars looked a bit dingy.) Last night I researched mascara until 3am when I finally decided that the bags under my eyes were no match for my lashes, no matter how voluminous, dark and lustrous I could make them.
This is a sickness. I lie there in bed, i-pad in hand, and cannot make myself stop. Why am I doing this? It’s not that I’m spending huge amounts of money we don’t have. I buy piddly little crap like cell phone jacks from China or laundry detergent from Dusseldorf. (I’m really not kidding. It’s great detergent.) But once I start researching, I can’t stop myself. Be it the pinnacle of tooth brush refills or the epitome of hand-dyed wrapping paper, once my mind focuses on some kind of need, I become completely obsessed with researching and purchasing the item in question. I seriously know more about diy table cloth fabric than any respectable person ought to know.
And I know I’m not alone. Because I get HUNDREDS of email ads every five minutes. From “Rue-la-la” to “Beyond the Rack” to “Fab.com,” I could literally spend the next six months of my life trying to clear out my email box and delete every on-line solicitation to buy yet another elegant designer handbag for up to 70% off. No joke, I have 17,000 e-mails. And some of them I have to actually read. But I never get to them because every time I try to wade through the morass of e-mails I get side-tracked by yet another “Living Social” deal or “Groupon” ad.
I tried making a rule that no electronics could be brought into the bedroom. But technically that meant I couldn’t keep my husband’s LED alarm clock and he overslept and missed a few morning patients. He insisted that a blanket anti-electronic ban was unacceptable. I could just try to eliminate anything with the letter “i” but I’m pretty attached to my dog, Maggie (maybe I could change the spelling of her name) and I’d hate to rid myself of the chaise at the end of the bed.
No, there’s no way around this. I have to dig deep and find the willpower within to cut myself off from all electronic media post 9p.m. That’s it. No checking e-mail. No sleepy-time surfing. No “Words with Friends” to help soothe me to sleep. It’s just too dangerous. Clearly I cannot use these media responsibly.
Okay, I admit it. I am powerless over my addiction. Breathe. I am taking a fearless moral inventory of myself. Breathe. And I humbly ask a power greater than myself to remove the electronic clatter that clouds my psyche and keeps me from slumber. Breathe.
Is it okay to just concentrate on three steps instead of all twelve? It’s just that time is limited and they get kind of repetitive after a while. Besides, I only have a few minutes before the Disney necktie auction I’ve been following on ebay ends and I really need to get this Goofy tie for Mark for his birthday.