Friday, October 21, 2011

Things Deb Doesn't Love: Obsessing Over Things

I don't mean obsessing over something worth obsessing over. One might say I am obsessed with Heath at Every Size, or that I am obsessed with how awesome my friends are, or that I am obsessed with Diane and Heather's wedding and how awesome it is going to be or that I am obsessed with chunky, bearded guys. I freely and happily admit I am obsessed with these things. 

It's when I get obsessed with actual thing-things that I start to get... well... insane. And hence worried.

Recent obsession: this jacket.

Here are the reasons I am in love with this jacket: I have only owned 2 items in khaki my whole life: two pairs of ill-fitting pants I had to wear while I worked at Starbucks. Those pants, by the time my tenure at Starbucks was (thank god) finished were covered in coffee and tear stains. Coffee, from, well, the coffee, and tears from the times I would cry because my manager would tell me I needed to make the coffee drinks faster. Eventually I did. And by "made coffee drinks faster" I mean I made up coffee drinks. I had/have no clue what was supposed to go in half the drinks I made, so I just put in whatever struck my fancy. This was not a good Starbucks career move. They gave me fewer and fewer shifts until I just quit. 

But back to khaki. Whenever Soul Twin wears her khaki trench coat I think, "She looks so classy!" But every time I try on a khaki trench coat and look in a mirror I think, "Well, this isn't me." But did you notice the ruffles? It's a KHAKI TRENCHCOAT WITH RUFFLES. And you know what's all over the back of the coat (which I can't figure out how to capture an image of)? MORE. RUFFLES. When I first saw this on the interwebz I thought, "Huh. I like that." So I emailed it to myself so I could look at it the next day. And then I looked at it the next day (being today), and I have become obsessed with this coat. Literally obsessed.

Let me explain.

I am so obsessed with this coat that I feel if I do not purchase it right now it will be a significant life loss. 
Like if I don't have some sort of guaruntee that this coat will be mine I. WILL. DIE.


Here's the thing: I have recently bought a lot of clothes. Like a lot. I have a spent a lot of money on those clothes. I have almost bankrupted myself buying clothes. And about a week ago, with $1.50 in my bank account (shameful, I know) and my credits cards safely out of my grasp I decided I had to be done buying clothes. Because it was either clothes or food. And I might be slightly addicted to buying dresses, but I also kind of need to eat. So yes, the coat is on sale for $35. But  I could buy a lot of eggs and sprouted grain bread and lentils and veggie sausage and coffee with that. And I can live without that coat, but I can't live without my coffee.

But the point of this post isn't to discuss why I should or shouldn't buy the coat. It's to explore this seemingly manic need I have for things and the belief that these things will change the very definition of who I am. As though if I had a ruffley, khaki trench coat I would have all the classiness of Soul Twin with the all the immature, silliness of myself. As though, if I can just have and wear that coat, I will be my best and truest self. It sounds silly to write this out. But in my gut, I feel it. If I can just look the right way, I will be the right way. I will be put together. Men will want me. Women will want to be me. If I can just have that stupid, ruffley trench coat.

I keep thinking of an early episode of Mad Men when Don Draper gets high with his mistress's hippy friends. When the friends find out he is in advertising, one of them says, "You make the lie. You invent want."

So, I could try to opt out of this want-inventing system. But the (terrifying) reality of the system is that it is inside of me. It is embedded in my psyche: if I can look a certain way, I will be that way. What else would explain a sickening feeling in my stomach when I think about not obtaining a silly coat (a feeling that, even as I prove the silliness of the want, I STILL WANT)? It is overwhelming. 

I have lately been trying to pay attention to what happens in my body before I act compulsively, whether it regards food or coats or whatever. If it is something I do not, in my logical mind, need, how do I convince my huge feeling heart that I do not need it? A brownie or a coat or a new dress or new shoes or a new bike or whatever it may be. In my heart it FEELS like need. 

But it is not need.

Sometimes when I think of the things I want for my life, they are physical things: a condo in JP and children and husband and dog and all that. But sometimes, I just have to tell myself that what I want more than ANY one thing is to feel free from want. And contrary to what our culture would like us to believe, obtaining what we want does not free us from want.

Maybe in a moment of weakness I will buy that coat. And I will forgive myself and enjoy it and move forward if I do. But in the meantime, I will continue to remind myself that the only real freedom from want is truth and joy.

The Truth is that coat will not make my life everything I want it to be.
The Joy is the hope of someday having control over my compulsive behaviors.

And that, my friends, is how you overthink things.

The. End.


  1. I. LOVE. THIS. AND I understand it REALLLLLLY well. On the realz, dude. And the suckiest suck part? Total satisfaction with said thing until the novelty wears off, and then I am just boring again. BUT WE ARE NOT BORING!!!!

  2. But truly i really hope you bought the coat... $35 is amazeballs...

  3. But seriously, and I know this is really the opposite of the point, but your readers want to know... DID YOU BUY THE COAT!?!?