Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, these are the things that come to mind when I think of the word subscription. Until recently. One thing that I have consumed less of during this time of quarantine is television. I have, however, picked up a YouTube habit in its place. My YouTube feed typically consists of Tech Channels, Car Reviews (for my husband), and financial content. Most of my recommendations have centered around that. As of late, however, new items have been popping up on my feed: subscription boxes. I won’t begin to try and understand the ends and outs of Google, or how the YouTube algorithm works, that is way above my pay grade. I will say that as of late, I have been doing a lot of stress shopping. And 100% of that has been online. And all of our internet traffic is routed through a Google network. I’ll just leave that there for the conspiracy theorists.
But yes, Google, in his unmitigated, omniscient, power, decided that I needed to be introduced to the world of subscription boxes. A world, up until a month or two ago, I did not know existed. A video, for Boxy Charm, ended up in my feed, and because I had been talking about makeup and skincare lately, I clicked. About three days later, I had signed up for BoxyCharm, Ipsy Plus, FabFit Fun, Causebox, Therabox, Cocotique, and SheReads Truth. All of which were videos that were ‘suggested’ to me, after I watched that first one. The last of those subscriptions, however, I surmise was suggested, because I googled, “best study bible.” Yes, I think Google, and the other three of the big four tech companies, have too much power and influence over our lives, but that rant is saved for another time. Here’s what I want to talk about, shopping addiction, more specifically, mine.
First things, first, as someone who comes from a family of full-blown addicts, cocaine, crack, alcohol, you name it, I have always prided myself that I didn’t and never became one. An addict, that is. I don’t smoke, don’t do drugs, and I just have discovered the joys of winding down with a glass of wine, but even that is done sporadically. You grow up around a bunch of addicts, and you’ll end up hating drugs, or become one yourself. I was the former. You know that adage about those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones? Let’s just say, my house has been shattered as of recently.
I’m an addict. Typically, when those three words are heard, it would be followed by a resounding “Hi, Adrienne”, and I’d go on to discuss the many ways in which I was one. In most cases, when people hear those words, some type of illegal substance or alcoholic substance is involved, or the root cause of. An addict is generally defined as a person who is addicted to a particular substance, typically an illegal drug. But informally, I might suggest that it can also mean an enthusiastic devotee of a specified thing or activity. Activity. Hmm. Shopping is defined as the action or activity of purchasing goods from stores. So, looking at those two, I’m an addict. More specifically, a shopping addict or I have a shopping addiction.
Shopping addiction affects about 18 million adults in the United States and is defined simply as the compulsion to spend money, regardless of need or financial means. Compulsion shopping is considered a mental health disorder and can cause severe consequences. Now, I am married with three children. I have a mortgage, car payments, student loans, general living expenses, and none of those are in jeopardy. My husband and I have been fortunate enough to not lose our jobs during this difficult time, and I have not sacrificed our well-being to feed my “habit.” I haven’t drained our savings, (but have needlessly dipped into it), none of our bills are behind, and my children are cared for. This brings me to why I didn’t feel like I had a problem. I’ve had family members steal from me and other members of our family to feed their habit. Family members who have lost employment, homes, everything they have because of their problem. Hell, my grandfather lost a whole car, because of his alcoholism. None of that has happened to me. But somehow, in the last two months, I’ve spent over a thousand dollars in subscription boxes, make-up, skincare, bath & body works merchandise, amazon purchases, and other things I just have forgotten about. None of these things I’ve needed, but all of these things have made me happy while I was purchasing them, disgusted when they come in the mail. I’ve told myself, you can stop buying things. You don’t have a problem, you just like shopping. But it’s something more.
Signs of an addictive personality. Individuals with an addictive personality can be identified by many different things:
Comfort Eating/binge eating. Check.
Checking one’s phone or social media too much. Check.
Impulse buys/excessive shopping. Uh. YEAH.
There are a few others, but I figure you get the picture here. Reading on, there appears to be a link between genetics and someone’s ability to have an addictive personality. Those who have parents who have been addicted to a substance are more likely to exhibit addictive personality. One of the aforementioned family members I mentioned with the substance abuse problem? My father. Also, apparently, individuals born to parents who have suffered anxiety or depression can be predisposed to having an addictive personality. Now, one thing I didn’t mention before, I’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I’m in therapy and on medication for it. It is also prevalent in my family.
So ok, I may not be an addict, but I have an addictive personality. Which means I have a high risk of actually becoming one. I’m already in therapy, what else should I be doing to treat it? Well, up until the start of this post, I had never really thought of myself as an addict or that I even had an addictive personality. Perhaps that is the first step. Admittance. Then seeking treatment. Spending less time refreshing my browser to see if my FedEx delivery status has updated, (seriously they have become the worst since this pandemic started), and spending some more time, exploring what has gotten me here. I’m “man” enough (who came up with that statement anyway), correction: I’m woman enough to admit I have a problem. Even more woman enough to admit that I have looked down on and perhaps been a tad bit judgmental of those in my family who have substance abuse problems. I’ve often thought, you can beat it, stop being weak, you’re just making excuses. But looking at my American Express Bill and Bank statement over these last few months, I can’t afford to cast any more stones, because I will have nothing left. So this is me, dropping my stones, casting them into the sea of shame, and making a decision to stop judging others, and start judging myself. Oh, and I’m no longer subscribed to 15 different subscription boxes, (yes, it had legitimately gotten up to that amount), just three. My intent was never to cast the subscription model in a disparaging light, I think it’s a great idea, I just need to learn how to keep it from masking whatever else there is beneath the surface. Until next time.