How the Stuff Happens (A Lesson In My Brain)

For people who do not comprehend exactly *why* it has been so hard for me to implement the Shopping Ban consistently, or why exactly the Stuff seems to be so needed, here is a little insight into how my brain works.  I'm not saying this isn't flawed thinking -  but it's presented here for insight on how the Stuff happens.  This illustration of my sometimes-awful thought processes should explain why this is Shopping Ban is a difficult exercise for me, for better or worse.   And hopefully reassure someone reading this, who might think similarly, that they are not alone.

For the past few weeks, part of my brain (Brain Part 1) has been saying this to me: "We need new sandals for when we're camping and swimming.  Our flip flops always fall off, so we need new sandals.  Remember how much it hurt when we had to struggle across barnacled rocks at Porteau Cove?  And then when we were in the water our flip flops came right off and floated away and we had to go chasing them.  Maybe we should get some Tevas since they're all the rage again.  Those would be cool.   And they're trendy so people will think we are trendy!  We always feel good when people compliment us!  Then our feet will not be hurt when we walk across rocky beaches,  we can swim without worrying about our flip flops floating away, and people will think we are super cool and then they want to be friends with us or maybe think we're cute.  We may be the most unattractive person on the beach but we can have the coolest shoes.  If we have the coolest shoes, people might not notice all the other things that are wrong with us, like how we love being alone and don't suffer fools gladly and are impatient and feel insecure and shy around people but still want to be the centre of attention and come on too strong when we just want to be a part of things and belong.  Maybe people won't notice our frizzy hair and wrinkly skin and peeling nose and horrible chubby arms and just see our cool shoes.  Maybe strangers maybe won't comment on our size, for once (because that always seems to happen.  Why does that always happen? Why do people say that stuff to strangers?!). Yeah, that's the ticket.  Get the Tevas. "

So Brain Part 1 says: convenience, comfort, coolness - and added bonus armour protection against hurtful people judging us or figuring out how awful we really are? This isn't a want, it's a need!  Green light, people!  This is the deal of the century!  $65 for inner peace!

But part of my brain hasn't completely forgotten the Shopping Ban.  So then Brain Part 2 wades in and goes:  "OK, 1, but - don't we have water shoes?  Remember that time we went to Mexico with our friends?  We bought water shoes for that fun day we went exploring in the jungle and the cenotes.  We should just wear those in the water.  No need to go buy the Tevas."

Brain Part 1 replies, "Yeah, but the Tevas are COOL.  There's nothing COOL about water shoes. People might think we're uncool and we are DEFINITELY COOL, right? We need people to think we're cool.  And also? Our bathing suit this year is a super cute pink and navy bikini with PINEAPPLES on it and cool parrots.  Those water shoes are black and red.  They so don't match.  People will notice they don't match and then they will notice all the other not-so-perfect-and-in-fact- terrible-unloveable things about us too.  DANGER! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!"

 The super cute parrots-and-pineapples bikini.  Not a hint of red or black to be seen.

The super cute parrots-and-pineapples bikini.  Not a hint of red or black to be seen.

Brain 2 replies: THEY DON'T MATCH? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? We're going to the beach with people we love, we get to go swimming which is our favourite thing ever, and you're telling me that the fact that our shoes don't match might ruin any fun we have today?

Brain 1:  Yeah.  And I will genuinely feel uncomfortable and like something is not right if our beach shoes don't match our suit. We have a reputation to uphold.  We are stylish, we are always put together.  We have the best outfits.  Then people can't call us slobby, or ugly, or fat, or bossy or unlikeable.  Because we're stylish and cool.  

Brain 2:  *heavy sigh*

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So.  That's usually how this would go, and Brain 1 would win, and we'd go buy the Tevas, and feel good again, until the next thing came up that we needed.

This weekend, I let Brain 2 do some of the heavy lifting.  

I was going to the beach with two of my favourite people. Yes. This was true.  The shoe dilemma was still bothering me.  This was also true.  It didn't matter that I was hanging out with the two people who would judge me least for my shoes.  I couldn't stand that the shoes didn't match. But I just let myself sit with the discomfort.  Brain 1 was screaming, but I tuned 1 out as much as I could.   

And when I didn't give in to 1, what I found was, Brain 2 got creative.  Brain 2 was looking for something, anything, to shut Brain 1 up.  

Brain 1 (anxious and uncomfortable and mad all at the same time and just unhappy): WWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIL let's just stay home where everything is OK always.  WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIL.

Brain 2 (looking frantically for anything to shut Brain 1 up): Shut up shut up shut up.  OH HEY LOOK, 1!  Look what I found! Our boat shoes!  They are pink! And green!  And perfectly match our suit!

Brain 1 (sniffling):  Oh, yeah.  Those are cute.  I forgot we had those.

 The boat shoes.  That perfectly match our suit.

The boat shoes.  That perfectly match our suit.

So, 2 found a solution.  It took some time, and some battling.  And, part of my brain which you haven't met here but I promise actually exists, Brain 3, which is super practical and smart and stubborn and logical, brought both sets of shoes to the beach just in case.  3 resolutely put on those damn water shoes and frolicked in the ocean and said fuck it, we're at the beach with the girls, who gives a shit, and had a grand old time.  And no one noticed that the water shoes didn't match our suit.  2 was happy to have stuck to the Shopping Ban.  And Brain 1, while not completely satisfied, felt comfortable enough to have fun and enjoy the day.

 Red and black shoes quickly became so sandy that you couldn't tell what colour they were.  

Red and black shoes quickly became so sandy that you couldn't tell what colour they were.  

So, that battle, between Brain 1 and Brain 2 and Brain 3 and any gosh darn other voices that are there in my head (I wish it was more like a soap-opera multiple personality disorder but it's not - they're all me), is what goes on, every day, all day.  Sometimes, the Stuff happens because 1 is a whiny little insecure child that just needs to be comforted and knows no other way, and 2, 3 and whoever else can't figure out another way to give that comfort, so they give in, because it's easy.  

But this is what the Shopping Ban was all about.  It's about doing the not-easy thing, and about finding other ways to feel joy and comfort and confidence and acceptance.   

But dammit, does it get loud inside my head sometimes.