Hi Everyone. I am new here, and I need to admit I have a problem and get help. I am a compulsive shopper. I am a stay at home Mum to two little ones with a husband who works away for most of the week. We have been together for 15 years and since we adopted our children 4 years ago my spending has spiraled out of control. I came clean to my husband in march this year and admitted I had run up credit card and catalogue debt amounting to almost £10,000 in just under 4 years. I realise now why I was doing it - I was a new mum to 2 children who had a tough start on life, and my husband who is a contractor has to travel to where the work is, so I have been left to adjust to my new role and I have struggled. I have recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia as well - which means I not only have chronic pain and fatigue, but a home and children to look after on my own. I was brought up in a family where money was extremely tight and money management was just scraping by giro to giro, as my father was disabled and we were on benefits. My parents got themselves into debt and I often felt ashamed that I wore hand be downs and couldn't afford to do anything. As soon as I was 18 I opened a catalogue and started my slippery slope. When I met my husband he was very money focused and very good at money management so I stopped for a long time as he kept me in line, handling the household finances etc... I ended up with great credit. We relocated 12 years ago across the country to a little town where I knew no one. My husband started working away and I became isolated and lonely. I made a couple of friends, but I was still alone a lot of the time. I started buying things at first to make our house look nice, then it was clothes so i looked nice for my husband coming home....I felt good at first - I wasnt getting myself into a lot of debt and I thought I could handle it. Fast forward to the past 4 years and I was buying to fill the void that had opened up between myself and my husband I know that now. I promised in March when I came clean that I wouldn't buy anything again without him knowing first. But as weve grown apart and have been experiencing both resentment (on my part because I feel like I'm alone all the time and he no longer pays me attention both intimately and emotionally. These past couple of months I have started to buy again, not huge amounts maybe £250 or so....but I promised him I would stop and I haven't. And I feel deeply ashamed and sick to my stomach about it. I have never missed a payment off any of my credit cards or catalogues- but it just seems like their balances are not reducing and I'm feeling trapped in a cycle of buying, regret and self loathing. Please can anyone tell me how to get out of this??
So sorry you are going through this. Sounds like you have a lot of integrity and are really trying to do the right thing by your husband, your kids and yourself. I'm no expert on this, but I do have a few suggestions, for what it's worth. One is that you check out Shopaholics Anonymous, Spenders Anonymous or Debtors Anonymous, which are free 12-step support groups. The second is that you mentioned that you want to keep your promise to your husband. I notice that he has not kept his promise to *you*, to act as a husband; which means to love and honor you, spend time with you, pay attention to you, fulfill your sexual needs. So I think it's understandable that you're feeling lonely or isolated or disappointed or angry or frustrated or feeling trapped or feeling powerless, or whatever. So it's no wonder that you are engaging in pain-managing behaviors of over-shopping. May I suggest you talk to a counselor to get a sense of the frustration and overload you are living with around being virtually abandoned by your husband. You deserve better. Also, you are at home alone with 4 kids to care for with no adult to share the burden, plus you have severe pain & fatigue. For those, I suggest you check out the fibromyalgia group and the chronic pain group here on supportgroups. Well, that's a lot of suggestions; hope something in there is helpful. I think the shopping, thought an addiction and a financial strain, is an understandable coping mechanism considering all the stress you are under right now.
Hi, I’m new here too and in a similar position, also in the uk. Im in Northamptonshire , would love to talk and I’d like any help and support I can get
Hi Lozzy, Are there any Shoppers Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous or Spenders Anonymous near where you live? I'm not saying they work for everyone (I myself do not like the 12-step "Anonymous" groups!) but maybe they will be helpful to break the isolation and get support. You can google them for locations. If none locally, sometimes they have "telephone meetings."
I recently started going to AA meetings, hoping to start DA meetings, but my AA sponsor has heard me talk about my shopping addiction and she has asked me to text her my daily spending. I hope to do it one day at a time. I will never be able to do it if I shop online at all. I wish I could block my access to Amazon and the other websites which call to me, but I can't. It's all on me. The pain it has and is causing me to see all that I have bought and throw it in the garbage is hopefully enough to keep me from doing it any more. I am going to keep talking about how painful it is to have a shopping addiction, no matter how embarassed I feel.
@Belissa2000, I’m so glad you have a caring supportive AA sponsor. May I make a suggestion? Since alcohol is her speciality, you may want to go to DA or SA in addition for their expertise.
Would it be OK if I made one other suggestion? That is, you write about the pain of shopping addiction, and how remembering those feelings might help you to not do it anymore. I got to wondering if you are familiar with the brain malfunction model of addiction? Have you done any reading on the “addiction as an illness” model? There are interesting sites and youtubes about that. Basically, what they have found is that addictive activities cause parts of the brain to shrink, so you have less “executive functioning.” i.e., planning, self-control, etc. (Things you need to stop the behavior). And the addictive behavior causes other parts of the brain to enlarge, so your “pleasure center” becomes more vulnerable to the pleasure that the addictive behavior produces. (I read that the pleasure from meth is 1,250 more intense than the pleasure from sex!!! OMG.). I don’t know what the ratio is for brain pleasure of shopping addiction compared to sex. But I personally have found it helped me to know this info. It gave me one more tool - when the embarrassment or pain or other consequences of my addictive behaviors weren’t enough to keep me from acting, reviewing this info about anatomy and brain use sometimes helped me control the behavior from a different angle.