After years in recovery—teamed with years in therapy-- you can begin to believe that you have a handle on yourself. You might start to think that you are onto your own tricks. And then...
Here is the latest peek at myself. I love handbags and about a month ago in a chic, high-end catalog I saw a tote bag that was described as being made from old Indian saris—those traditional long wrap dresses that Indian women wear. The photos showed the bags in vibrant colorful prints and each had a long leather strap that could be worn across the body.
They were only $98. Of course that’s over $100 with tax and delivery, but I had paid much more for other handbags and there was something about the soft fabric of the old saris; I mean it would have some other—older Indian—woman’s karma right? And for spring/summer I could envision this soft bag across my body with khaki skirts or jeans and sandals. A nice look.
So I ordered the bag. The website said it would take seven days. I told myself, “Expect it in ten. I was already trying hard to manage my desire. So I wait the week and three days. I pass up other purses when I shop, “Nope, the old sari bag, slouched just so across my body, with its soft silk and aged leather…I can feel it all –I was living that new bag and UPS hasn’t arrived yet.
But then it does. I come home to “the box”. It’s here! I’m excited. But then I open the box and there is a lumpy, kind of laundry-bag looking sack. It is made of old fabric yes, but the bag is huge and droopy, and the strap is cheap, shiny leather. I sling it across my body and I recognize the look. I demonstrate for my husband: I bend and scoop, bend and scoop. It looks like the kind of cloth sling that women wore to work in the fields. This is not chic, not cool, not very nice. It has no Karma. I’m disappointed.
But it’s what happens next that surprises me. I know that I don’t want THIS bag, and I want my money back. That is clear. My husband says, “Send it back and get something you like.” Yes, of course. That makes sense, but something is holding me back. I try on the sari cloth bag again. I empty my current handbag and put all the contents into the new sari bag hoping that somehow having my things inside will transform this purse into MY purse. Nope. It just looks even droopier now--like an old laundry bag.
So what’s holding me back? It’s not until I am filling out the return form and packing the sari bag in the return carton to that I realize what my trouble is. It’s not just the bag I have to return, it’s the new identity that I’d constructed in my head. In the ten short days from ordering the bag to receiving the bag I had created a new me to go with the bag: I was going to be causally chic, I was going to be the kind of woman who wore old sari cloth with khaki and denim and simple sandals, I was going to be the slightly bohemian, somewhat hippy-ish chick, that tossed a bag like this across her body and…and…
And what? Maybe I imagined that I’d laugh more, worry less, be more comfortable in my body. I’d sit in coffee shops and I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff. I’d be at peace and love stillness and be relaxed. And I'd be wise. In my shoppers imagination this sari bag was going to bring that to me. In ten days I had created a new me and done a kind of geographic cure without even leaving my house.
And then the UPS man took my bag and delivered reality right back to me.