shopping and drinking and eating, oh my

The first time that I remember a shopping "high", I was only a teen. I had had a disagreement with a friend and I was in my feelings - hurt, betrayed, excluded, passed over. I grabbed my newly acquired credit card and headed to the mall where I shopped til I dropped, from one end to the other, feeling better with each passing purchase. I maxed that card out. in one day. in one shopping excursion. but, I felt so good. Like, all the hurt could be hidden behind that new outfit, all the betrayal could be trampled under those new boots, all the exclusion was lost in that sweet new fragrance, and all the feelings of being passed over could be buried in the deep pockets of that new handbag.

I was already involved in the drug life. I knew what it felt like to be high from that. and this felt the same. Nothing else mattered in the moment.


I was never a casual drinker when I first started, six years below the legal age. I went straight for the hard liquor, very little chaser. My objective was to not be the person that I was while sober. more free. more fun. more outgoing. I was uncomfortable about my true self and drinking in social settings left me be that other person. And as someone who desperately wanted to fit in, drinking seemed to be the acceptable conduit to doing just that.

The high that I got from being this whole new person gave alcohol an alluring appeal that I couldn't, wouldn't, shake. Nothing else mattered in the moment.


Growing up, some of my best memories surround eating and the dining room table. My family ate almost all of our meals together, laughing and talking. Special occasions meant special meals and every Friday night meant dinner at our favorite restaurant. I loved food and I loved finding reasons to partake of it. Happy, sad, celebrating, mad, the reasons didn't matter.

Food stirred up that same sense of euphoria, that same good feeling, that same high. Nothing else mattered in the moment.


As life went on, I changed. My excessive shopping, binge drinking, and eating habits changed, and yet, the appeal of the high associated with them stuck around. They are my weaknesses, my vices, not because I think that any of them are necessarily bad or wrong, but because the way that I use them is wrong. Instead of facing unpleasant feelings, I shop them away. Instead of learning how to belong in my own skin comfortably, I drink to fit in. Instead of celebrating life by living in the moment, I eat my way through the moments. 

"I've never seen any life transformation that didn't begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit." ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

I was tired of my own bullshit. Tired of flimsy excuses keeping me from being my best self. Tired of fears parading around as justifications. Tired of hiding from my thoughts, my feelings, my self, behind a shopping cart, a drink in hand, or an overflowing plate of food. In order for me to be me, I had to put it all in perspective and get real with my self.

And so, I am on a journey to different results. I stop and think through my choices (most days). Are they lining up with the life I see 6 months from now? a year? 5 years? Are they wise choices? or ones made in the heat of an emotion-packed moment? Will the results bring life to who I am? or death?

Do I still shop? Yes, but, not when I am working through something. I am learning that emotional buys are just a cheap substitute and real joy comes when I can shop without strings attached.

Do I still drink? For the last 83 days, no. Whether I ever drink again is still undecided. I say that I will. I think that I will. But, I haven't felt a peace deep within myself quite yet, a joy that comes from just being my real self, without the false sense of security that alcohol serves. Until I can feel secure without it, I have to keep it off the table.

Do I still eat? Well, duh, of course! But this area has seen a tremendous amount of change. I am now a plant-based vegetarian (eventually, a post will follow that describes this journey in more detail). I love this new way of seeing food and how it works for me.

Do I still struggle? Yes. Some days are taken a moment at a time, but I am focused on truth - the one that speaks to who I am, not what I do - and to walking this out, even if I have to crawl at times.

"That's all life is. Small steps that you take every day so when you look back down the road it all adds up and you know you covered some distance." Katie Kacvinsky


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