The bottom of my closet is currently a mess.  Yes, it is my goal to shovel it out, pare it down, and organize it.  But right now?  Hot mess.

It’s mostly full of extra hangers and various bags – tote bags, gym bags, overnight bags, etc.  I do use them for stuff, so I’m not ready to get rid of them, but there are probably more than I need, and I should figure out a better way to store them.

This weekend, I was digging around for a tote bag, when I came across another bag that had managed to hide out in the recesses of my closet for a while.  If you just looked at the closet, you would never really see it:


But on closer inspection….


Oh, look at that.  It’s a Nordstrom’s Christmas bag.


It’s currently April.  What does that tell me?  I bought something in November/December of last  year, and at some point buried it in the closet.  I must have REALLLLLLY loved it, wanted it, and needed it.  Because that’s exactly what you do with purchases you’re excited about – hide them in your overstuffed closet for 4-5 months, right?

Well, I’m sorry to say, there is some truth to that.

Buying things and keeping them in the bags with the tags on with the idea that I may return them is probably one of the weirder behaviors of my shopping addiction, and it’s been a problem for a long time.  It’s a little embarrassing to talk about, even though I’m guessing I am not the only person who’s done it.  I know the behavior mostly comes as a defense against the guilt I know I’ll feel after a spree–I figure if I keep it in the bag, ready to return at any time, no damage done right?  Unless of course, I charged the item, which means it accrues interest on my card while I decide whether or not I can overcome the guilt and keep it.

And sometimes, I have taken stuff back.  Other times, the return grace period expires and I’m stuck with the item whether I like it or not.  Before I met Ron and I lived alone, I consistently had a pile of carrier bags in the corner of my bedroom, full of stuff I was debating about returning.  Once Ron moved in, and there was a witness to my craziness, I reigned it in significantly, but would still backslide more often than I’d care to admit.

Prior to the changes I’ve been making this year, I usually have had anywhere from 2-3 bags lurking in the bedroom with still tagged items.  But when I started this blog, I either cut the tags off items and hung them in the closet, or returned them.

Except for this one Christmas bag, which I hid in the closet.  Because it wasn’t in front of me, I didn’t think about it too much.  But I vaguely knew it was there, and it made me feel better.  What was in the bag?

A black tank top.

Nothing extraordinary, but potentially something I would wear.  Of course, I have several black tank tops already, but this one was longer than most, and therefore kind of new and interesting.  Why didn’t I just make a decision about it?  I don’t really know for sure.  I think part of me thought that during this stuff diet, I might get desperate for something new and it would come in handy for a quick fix.  Part of me rationalized that I had bought it on sale, so why not keep it?  And I’m guessing part of me was just taking comfort in my old self-soothing behavior.

Today, I went ahead and made a decision about it.  I returned it.  I will admit I felt a bit of a pang as I did – because it truly was the last still-tagged item in my possession.  There are no more carrier bags with tagged items in my whole house – hidden or otherwise.  I don’t have any kind of a “secret stash” for a quick fix.

I am curious if keeping that one item was preventing me from going out and buying something else.  Knowing it was there was a bit of a safety net for me – it kept me from feeling desperate, like a talisman of sorts.  I’d like to think I don’t need it, that I will be fine – even freed on some level–without it.  I guess only time will tell.