More than two hundred years ago the poet, William Wordsworth, wrote, “The world is too much with us; getting and spending we lay waste our powers.”
Many women in long-term recovery would agree with him. Long after we gave up the drink or pills or food we are still –maybe secretly—struggling with too many trips to the mall or late night online shopping carts--and painfully joking that, “My name is Diane and I am a
Yes, it may be true that no one dies from a shoe overdose but it’s also true that we are not “happy, joyous and free” when we are ashamed or afraid because of our money or shopping issues.
This time of year is a delight for those who love clothes, and maybe a minefield of triggers for those who over spend or who are still crafting an identity in recovery. The fall fashion magazines are fat with dreams and danger, and they, of course, luring us to shop.
In “Out of the Woods”, my book for women in long-term recovery, I write about clothes, and shoes and even how some women may use/overuse cosmetics in recovery. It’s light-hearted but also deadly serious. As our growth continues it can be easy to switch from a chemical addiction to a behavioral one. It’s all about our motives, and honesty, and self-care and how crucial it is to keep talking to other women in recovery.
(Yes, I too have spent time in a meeting checking out another woman’s clothes instead of listening to the speaker’s message.)
I love clothes and that is no longer something I feel shame about. Style and fashion are art forms and passions, and like any other passion they have an exciting, enriching side and also a dark, worrisome side. We need to have ongoing vigilance about all parts of our lives and that can mean both emotional and sartorial inventories.
Shopping and clothing are women’s issues and that means they are issues for women in recovery as well. We are all included—my sisters who shop too much, and those who fear the mall and the mirror as well. The good news is that if we talk about it we can laugh and heal at the same time.