When I was little, me and my brother used to get pocket money. My brother used to ask if he could go to put his in the saving account my grandparents set up for us both, but I used to ask if I could go to town so I could spend it straight away. I wonder how much of my pocket money I spent on TY Beanie Babies and in Claire’s Accessories?! Needless to say, shopping has always been a behaviour that I’ve fallen into, for as long as I can remember!
As I got older it only got worse. Having an overdraft at university was a terrible idea. I think I spent it all within the first two weeks in TopShop. I remember counting my pennies in the kitchen a couple of weeks later, hoping I’d have enough to buy a few 3p tins of baked beans to keep me going until a reasonable amount of time had passed before I could ask family for money again. I was a nightmare with money and at the time I had no idea of the deeper meaning behind being a shopaholic, or why it was happening.
Being a shopaholic is one of those things people make light of. It doesn’t seem like a totally disastrous addiction, does it? It wasn’t until I read Russell Brand's book, Recovery that I finally understood that all addiction, no matter what it is, comes from the same place… disconnection.
I read Recovery because I wanted to understand my other addictions to things like sugar and social media, and external validation… But of course, shopping was all part and parcel of the same thing! The book spoke to me in a very profound way and inspired me to begin my own journey to recovery, which I am still on, and might always be.
During the first lockdown, my spending was getting out of control. I was living with my Mum at the time and she was confused about why I was receiving another package every day. I bought a lot of clothes, but I had nowhere to wear them to.
I justified a lot of my spending on it being for my personal growth or health. I bought so many self-help books and vitamins, you wouldn’t believe; it was like Christmas every day! I used to get so excited when the postman came. He never asked me why so many things were addressed to me, but I bet he wondered if I was rich… I’m not. (Yet! I always say, I need to be successful, because I like expensive things too much!)
Anyway, I started going to Any Addicts Anonymous meetings online. I found a community of people who I could be completely honest with about my spending and everything else for that matter. It was incredibly healing to speak to people who really understood addiction at its deepest level. They had all been through it in one way or another.
Speaking to other addicts inspired me. They had been through so much and they’d got to the point in their recovery where the benefits of not engaging in their destructive behaviours outweighed the benefits of engaging in them. I wanted to know what that felt like. Would I feel more free? Happier? Calmer? My journey began, along with an amazing idea to document it in the form of song.
I noticed that I wasn’t the only one spending money online during lockdown. There was meme after meme about it on social media. So that’s when it seemed appropriate for me to write a song about it. At the time, I was doing my final project for my Masters in Songwriting, which I decided to focus on addiction. Mainstream Addiction! The addictions that society make light of.
Blue Card is a song that seemed to come to me, rather than me trying to find it. It was a magical songwriting experience. It felt like creativity just wanted to work with me that day. I wrote the whole song in one day. Not in one sitting, but in one day, and it was so much fun!
The song manages to showcase the way in which people make light of mainstream addiction, at the same time as giving everyone a nod that money can’t buy us love, happiness or time… the only things we are really searching for.
It became the first song of my project and acts almost as step one, on the 12-step recovery program that Russell Brand talks about. Acknowledging that there is a problem. I think this song makes people go ‘Oh yeah, that’s me! That’s what I do! Haha!’ BUT THEN, they hear the middle - ‘The only things that I can’t buy are love, happiness and time’ - and then they realise that maybe there’s something deeper going on that they can choose to look at if they want to.
What I have found amazing about releasing this song is just how many people can relate, and the sense of connection it has brought me. Talking to other people who can identify with this behaviour has lead to some really interesting conversations about why we’re doing it.
Lockdown forced us to spend more time on our own and of course made it harder to feel a sense of connection with others, but most of all ourselves. We were put into a situation where we had more time to sit and listen to ourselves if we wanted to… but we’re human, and we found other ways of escaping that… one of them being shopping! The temporary high and rush of dopamine released when we buy something online, was the hit that some of us needed to keep us sane.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of, we’re just human, trying to figure out how to feel okay, and for a while, online shopping and other mainstream addictions have tided us over…
But this whole experience has inspired me to truly look beyond the behaviour and learn to become conscious of the discomfort driving it. It’s one of the most self-loving things I’ve ever done. To sit and have compassion for the part of me that just wants to feel better, that wants to feel loved and validated. I have learnt through this process, and through writing Blue Card, that the only thing that can give me what I need is me. This, in itself is an incredibly powerful feeling.
For the first time in my life I realise that I don’t need to rely on anything outside of myself to make me feel worthy, valued or wanted… Wearing a nice new dress that makes people say I look good just doesn’t compare to the feeling of KNOWING I am worthy, with or without the compliments.
I can’t wait to share the other songs I have written inspired by this realisation! Who would have thought that a shopping addiction and Russell Brand would have shone the light on my own journey to healing!
I am still learning, and like all addicts, I will always be in recovery. My spending has got A LOT better and I feel more in control than before. I can’t say that I’m over it, because I’m not, but I’m getting there and I really hope to be someone who can inspire others to go on this journey too.
Thank you for reading this. I’d love to hear about anyone else’s experience, so feel free to talk to me on Instagram! You can find me @corrinajanetaylor.
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