Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I have a problem with clothes. I hate spending money on clothes and shoes for myself. I feel like it's a selfish, luxurious sin to be buying new clothes. Getting clothes second hand from friends and relatives is a sinless way to obtain them. For years, in my teens and adolescence, I only wore my grandfather's and father's old shirts, pants, coats, and wore the same shoes for years, until they fell apart. I looked like a hobo and though of it as my "style". I certainly didn't want to be a "lady" like my grandmothers, so that worked out well.

It was a source of weird pride for me. I needed little. I was ascetic.

Now I have a weird thing where I'll sometimes feel so starved for clothes, while at the same time feeling horrible about giving money for them, that I'll buy tons of dirt cheap stuff that will fall apart after the first wash.

And I've felt for so long that my parents gave me sooo much, that I only realized last night that they bought me almost no clothes after I was 11 or so. I was made to feel incredibly grateful for everything I was given, even if it was used. My father would give me an old coat of his, tattered and worn out, and make me seem ungrateful and unappreciative if I didn't like it. Like I was a spoiled brat. I had to justify needing anything and it had to be cheap. Things like shoes. My father glued my soles back on with superglue several times before acknowledging that I indeed did need new shoes, after, say, 5 years of me wearing the same pair.

I was too proud to acknowledge it even mattered. I never needed anything from them. There was pride in wearing old stuff and being a hobo and needing little.

When I was a baby, and in my early childhood, though, they dressed me up like a doll, in expensive dresses and shoes and bought only the best finery for me. And then, abruptly, it stopped, and I actually fondly remember getting a pair of stockings and some underwear, because it was such a rare, incredible treat.

And I only really understood this last night! This realization happened after I shared with my husband the fact that I never had a bed.

I never had a bed.

When I was little, I slept in my crib, and then on a couch.

Then, when my grandparents died, I inherited one of their old beds. With a mattress that was falling apart.

Only now do I realize how wrong this is. Now, when I've bought beds and mattresses for my family and seen how it is indeed possible to wake up without pain in my back.


  1. Well, at least he left you the Big Gray Phone. Which you then "threw out". You ungrateful specimen!

    Do you feel you would enjoy wearing more "feminine" clothes? Is the only thing stopping you guilt, and not wanting to be like the women in your family?

  2. I still don't know! Figuring it out slowly.

    For so long, I thought this was just how I was and what I liked. Now I don't have a clue!

  3. Well, if you want to experiment and feel guilty about spending money on clothes, I am volunteering to be your shopping buddy. :D

  4. I actually felt a pang in my chest when I just read the words "spending money on clothes". Let's take it slow. It's a phobia. Start with a second hand shop or something?

  5. Were you by any chance "honored" by favorable comparisons with other people's awful greedy children who were always asking for things?

    - GKA

  6. Good question, GKA. Maybe I was praised a few times for being "modest", but I think it was mostly how ungrateful I was made to seem if I wasn't happy with my dad's old stuff - after all, if it was good enough for him in his youth, what more did I want? That old tattered coat was real leather, you know, and I just didn't know what was good if I disliked it. So I'd accept it as a sign of "grungy" asceticism.

  7. The bed thing is so wierd - my parents did that to me too. I slept on a couch once i'd outgrown my childhood bed. Also no clothes unless I bought them myself, and I had no money of my own. I think it was my parents way of telling their kids that we weren't worth spending money on, being such disappointments to them and all that.


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