Since my chemo is over and I am now in "recovery" as they so cheerfully call it, I thought that my addiction to would cease. No longer would I order special sweaters or blouses that gave easy access to my port for treatment. No more would large Visa bills come in which would send my husband's eyebrows into the stratosphere. I would be sane, mature, able to order a few Kindle books or a shirt without breaking the budget.

But no. Chemo stopped on May 10th, but my one-click orders have continued unabated: books, shirts, sandals, skin cream, espresso, and more. Recently in prayer I begged God or anyone else who might be listening to help me with this addiction. The reply I got was, "You don't have a reason to stop yet."

Did that make me search for a reason other than the shame I felt at spending so much? Nope. The buying continued, despite prayer and guilt.

Then I realized that before I could find a remedy I first had to understand the roots of my profligacy.  Here are a few thoughts which skittered through my chemo brain:

--I still feel needy, and the frequent delivery of packages helps.
--On some level I must be angry I got cancer, despite my healthy life-style and exercise. "Stuff" could soothe this anger.
--Pushed deep inside was my fear that I might not recover, that I was heading towards death:  Frequent packages of nifty things assured me I had a future and my life would continue.
--Cancer rips away your trust in the days to come and in your own body. You feel grief for the life you had and the person you once were. Grief is a powerful motivator for retail therapy.
--Until recently I had little energy and hardly drove myself into town. Thus I could not do ordinary errands or shopping.

Now I had a fistful of reasons which helped me understand my addiction. Then my husband did something brilliant: As we know, it is very hard to say to your wife who is having chemo, "Honey, the bills are a wee bit high.  Can you rein it in a little?"

He gave me the May/June Visa statement for my card (I know, I'm an old-fashioned dame, sue me) and suggested that I look over the charges to make sure all were authentic. I started to sweat as I went down the long list, imagining physical dollar bills flying out of our window in payment. It was beyond shame or guilt--it was a glimpse of reality, done in the kindest possible way.

I am still impulsive, a lover of "stuff," but now I am more careful--tracking this month's expenses within a limit my husband and I decided on. Huh. Maybe when I look at my Pinterest board for "Mature Beauty", featuring older women with stylish short silver hair, I could believe that the "mature" part actually applies to me. And maybe I can believe that I actually have a future, and don't have to compensate for that fear.


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