After a full life and a long fight, my father-in-law passed away in late 2014. While I’m sure this good man gracefully found heaven, us on earth were hellishly floundering through Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief and my “purse”onal denial stage was strangely complex as I turned to shopping to salve the sadness - defining Retail Therapy.
Grave Shopping Habits
Surprisingly, I found myself distracted during funeral preparations as I didn’t quite know what to wear. Nothing seemed right - not my black ensemble or its matching accessory, my black Coach crossbody. All I needed was a small bag to carry my personal items for the day, but for whatever reason I no longer felt “connected” to it and it had to go. This spawned a mission to assemble the perfect mix of handbags for any occasion no matter what the cost - emotional, circumstantial, financial, etc. [And, it was going to be clutch. Totes!]
Over the course of many hours, I compiled a matrixed spreadsheet covering all aspects such as price, brand, style, color, daypart, size, fabric, etc. At this point, I could’ve been an expert writer for PurseBlog.com. Coupled with this, the maximizer within me drove my husband, friends, and family members nuts with questions, critiques, and options. In the end, there was no handbag humor to be found; even mom bag and murse jokes were funny no longer. I was one step short of a statistical algorithm to justify my crazy when I realized enough was enough; I needed to stop planning and take action. My research led to me to a great site called thredUP
* (for designer quality at affordable prices) and it was there that a mantra came on strong: “Life is short. Buy those damn purses!” I then proceeded to purchase 5 new possessions**. At this point, I wound up $501.66 in the hole with literally everything in my purses that you can imagine other than money.
Finally, I took pause to reassess my behavior. This was a classic case of Retail Therapy
. This is defined as shopping to make oneself feel better, to reduce sadness, to quell denial, to feel more in control, and/or to attribute high value worth to a low sense of self. It often arises in people during short-term periods of low moods or stress. Items purchased during periods of retail therapy are sometimes referred to as "comfort buys" or in my case “comfort couture”.
By attempting to deny pain and to avoid the unpleasant reality of my father-in-law’s death, I unknowingly succumbed to an addictive behavior; while some choose food, drugs, sex, or other vices … I chose shopping. A little pampering could’ve gone a long way, but this stress-spending compulsion of mine was strong and not to be forgotten. So, the neck time a splurge is pulling at my heartstrings I’ll look to my purse strings as a reminder to keep any impulsive habits in check.