After years in recovery—teamed with years in therapy-- you can begin to believe that you have a handle on yourself. That you know some stuff and that you are onto your own tricks.
Part of recovery is about transferring addictions but if you’ve been around awhile that’s no surprise. I quit smoking, then overeating then drinking, then sugar again, then dieting, compulsive exercise, and living by the number of the scale. After most of that began to calm down I finally dealt with the ACOA stuff and surprise the relationship issues. Thank you Robin Norwood for Women Who Love Too Much….I had to stop relationships, not date and then I had to learn how to date. Probably the most shocking part of recovery: Dating.
Let me save you some time or shock you: Learning TO date: You go out with a nice somewhat boring man, you participate in a fun social activity together—often with other people—you are interested in assessing behavior with others—You share only the smallest amount of personal information, come home, say thank you at the door and do the same thing But with a different person the next week. That’s dating. Who knew?
OK, so there was that to work on: more therapy and alanon and ACOA. Then of course I noticed the shopping and spending…Hint: .addiction by any other name is addiction.
But here is the latest peek at myself. I’d been looking at handbags—an old love and a fashion object. About two weeks ago in the Sundance catalog I saw a tote bag that was described as being made from old Indian Sari’s...the photos showed three of this bag, different colors and prints, it had a long leather strap that looked like it could go across the body. Hmmm. Only $98. There was something about the soft fabric and the old saris, I mean it would have some other—older Indian—woman’s karma right? And for spring/summer...this soft bag across my body with jeans and sandals. A nice look.
So I order the bag...takes ten days days. I I’m already trying to manage my own desire. I wait the week and three days. I pass up other purses when I shop, “Nope, the old sari quilted bag, slouched just so across my body, the worn leather, --it will be burnished after several wearings—I can feel it all and UPS hasn’t arrived yet. But then it does. I come home to “the box”. Here it is. I’m excited. How soon should I wear it, I wonder. 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 part is huge and the strap is cheap thin leather with a shiny surface. It will never soften or burnish. 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/sack that women wore to pick cotton. This is not chic, not cool, not very nice, 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, laughing at my cotton picking imitation says, “Send it back and get something you like.” Yes, of course. That makes sense, that’s the right thing to do. But something is holding me back. I try the Sari hunk of cloth bag again. I put all my regular purse contents inside it hoping that somehow my things inside will transform this into MY purse. Nope. It just looks even droopier and like an old laundry bag.
So what’s holding me back? It’s not until I am filing out the return form and packing the Sari bag in the carton to go back to Sundance that I realize: It’s not just the bag I have to return, it’s the new identity that I have constructed in my head. I get in: in the ten days from ordering the bag to seeing the actual object I had constructed 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, who would toss that bag like this across her body and…And what? Laugh more, worry less, sit in coffee shops and didn’t sweat the to-do list, I’d be able to toss my hair back (my hair barely touches my ears) and laugh, listen, be still and be relaxed. I wanted to be relaxed and this silky sari-quilted bag was supposed to bring that to me.
In ten days I had created a new me and done a geographic cure without even leaving my house. And then the UPS man delivered reality right back to me.