I buy all of the things. The little things. The big things. The pricey things. The cheap things. The glittery things. The pink things. The inspirational-quote things. The sometimes useless things. The this-one-thing-will-transform-my-bad-day-into-a-good-day things. The this-thing-will-help-me-organize-my-disaster-of-a-life things. The I-work-hard-and-I-deserve-this things. The oh-just-one-more-wouldn’t-hurt things. The I’ll-need-this-someday-soon things.
Out of shame of raised eyebrows and “oh well, that explains a lot” type of comments from the ones that I care for, but mostly out of fear of forcing myself to hear my own dwindling truths, I’ve never once said this out loud nor have I written it for public display. Who wants the world to know their every failure, anyhow? Surely not me. I have a shitload of pride and I wear it like armor. But maybe it’s time to remove my armor and sustain the stabs of my reality. I watch way too much Game of Thrones, y’all.
My name is Ely and I’m an addict.
That may sound super cliche, especially to women who tend to so proudly claim to be retail queens and shopping addicts (oh, the luxury), but I find nothing beautiful, stylish, nor luxurious about my self-destructive spending habits, which have and continue to, do exactly just that: destroy my life.
I am addicted to spending and more often than not, I’m spending money that I do not even have to begin with, and at the worst imaginable moments possible. Do I live a decent life? Yes, absolutely. Do the bills and then some get paid? Yes, absolutely. But I’m a slave to my debts and I don’t know how to dig myself back out of this slick-walled hole that I’ve so stupidly, dug and thrown myself into. The fact is, I’m in debt over mostly stupidities and my lack of responsibility and common sense has left me simultaneously winded, and dumbfounded. I feel as if I’ve climbed out of my body, punched myself in the gut and then climbed back inside of my body only to laugh at myself, as I struggle to catch my breath in agony. You did this to yourself, asshole! I continuously tell myself.
My relationship with things is not only toxic but financially and emotionally complex beyond psychological dissection and yet I, as smart as I know that I am, continue to stick around even when it fails me, does me wrong, abuses me, lies to me, betrays me, hinders me, and continuously builds me up only to smash me back down to the ground again. And then there I am yet again, broken into a trillion little pieces trying to pick up my own messes and put my broken and broke pieces back together again. And everytime I’ve had to bend down to pick my pieces back up, I catch a glimpse of her reflection. I see her within myself. My mother.
You know, I’m not one to blame anyone for my self-inflicted fuckeries. But I am, despite my rainbows of colorful faults, a deeply intense and philosophical creature who understands a lot about life and I do truly believe that there’s a rooted reason for everything. I strongly believe that behind every sole decision that I’ve made throughout the course of my rollercoastering life; that behind every action I’ve taken which has ultimately led me to where I am today, to this very moment as I sit in the rambunctious Miami traffic beneath a steaming sun and crystal clear blue skies, there patiently stands an “oh! That makes sense…” type of explanation or experience or something that will forever stream through my bloodline.
Something led me to this moment. Something led me to be a hustling mother with a formal job and a side hustle and another new business underway. Something led me to speak in the foul but passionate manners in which I speak. Something led me to find a home within my words; a safe haven within my writings. Something led me to behave the way that I do; to react the way that I do; to think in the strange and dark yet glittery and optimistic ways in which I do…. something. There was, is, and always will be- something.
I have crisp childhood memories of Sundays at home or rather, that place with walls in which I lived. Sundays, were the calm after the storm. When I woke up on most Sundays- after having slept an unhealthy few hours for a little girl- life was, well…quiet. I woke up at least knowing that my mother was alive and so I could breathe without the tension and the tightness in my chest. On Sundays I’d find that my mom’s pale complexion was often painted with blotches of purples and greens and sometimes, one of her eyes was black and swollen as if she had been stung by a bee. A 5 foot 8 inch bee with the fist of a man, that is. I know now that she must have woken up in severe pain, but I only cared that I still had a mom. I only cared that the repetitive dreams of my mother dressed in a white gown, glowing with beauty and wearing the wings of an angel, floating down to me on a cloud and whispering that I would be OK– hadn’t come true yet.
Despite the broken furniture, fresh holes in the walls, floors buried beneath oceans of broken glass, and graveyards of chubby, naked body parts that were once the porcelain cherub angels my mom endlessly hoarded on shelves- my mom was alive and my dad was asleep in bed and it was a new day for them and for us. Everyone was alive and there was a dark sense of peace, even if for just the few days to follow, before the weekend came and he was off to do whatever he was doing that destroyed my mother from the inside out and could potentially get her killed. I would deal with that again over and over until my mother grew strong enough to leave him- but for now? For now it was finally Sunday again. Something to look forward to. Shopping.
Aside from a short-lived sense of peace, mostly because everyone was too physically and emotionally drained to speak, nonetheless fight- Sundays were my mother’s opportunity to escape and she took us with her. In retrospect, I imagine she hoped she could find some way to help us forget the hell she had just put us through, and she figured buying us stuff would be the answer. “Let’s go shopping,” she would say nonchalantly. “Grab my purse and count my stash.” And as if nothing had ever happened; as if my father hadn’t just almost left her lifeless on the cold, bitter floors of our home the night before; as if I hadn’t just been caught in the crossfires of their physical abuse, ignorance, and negligence and received blows to the head in the process as I cried and begged and screamed for them to stop; for him not to kill her after she had just slashed his right cheek with a knife ; as if he hadn’t pointed a shotgun to her and then shot holes in our walls; none of that mattered, nor needed to be spoken of. Just like that, we were off to go shopping. No explanations. No discussions. No apologies. No right now, all that mattered was that we were going shopping and things would be OK.
It was never really anything expensive. We weren’t rich by any means nor were we THAT well off to justify any kind of shopping that wasn’t vital but she didn’t care. More often than not we were hopping between secondhand shops, Goodwills, antique shops and garage sales. It didn’t matter what it was. Things made my mother happy. Things fixed EVERY-thing. Things, healed her. Things, helped her to forget. The act of shopping gave her, and gave me, a sense of freedom from the realities of the life she was seemingly trapped in. Shopping, brought a sense of normalcy. Feeling pretty, or having something pretty in her possession, made her life worth living- even if for that one day.
And so I understand now- why I am what and who I am and why I do the sometimes rather reckless things that I do. I am a reflection, to some extent, of my upbringing as we all are. I know better than to make the same mistakes my mother made, obviously. But there are times when that knowledge doesn’t seem to shake me back to reality. I’m impulsive and dramatic and I like to find ways to just forget rather than facing the real issues at hand and well, things help me forget like they helped my mother. There have been times when I have just wanted nothing more than to die- and by some sorcery, a meaningless and stupid thing may remind me that I’m beautiful and that I work too hard to just give up on my kids and on myself. It’s so deeply petty and ridiculous, I know this. It must be fixed, I know this. I suppose that’s why this all needed to be said.
They say the first step towards self-recovery for an addict is admitting that there is a problem. I think I’ve just done that here.