drawn by the lovely Steve Hearn at Drawn4U
Don't worry, I'm not going to come out of the closet with news of secret poker games at the age of 9, or sneaking away from Mr A to pop into the bookies. It's nothing like that.
What I'm talking about is knee-jerk shopping. You know, the urge to rush off and buy stuff just to make you feel better.
I wouldn't go as far as saying I was a total shopaholic, but I have spent the last three decades hitting the shops whenever I've been bored, upset, dissatisfied with life, working too hard or frustrated at not being able to do something. Whenever I felt I deserved a break, I'd go off and buy new treats...and I'm not referring to the odd chocolate bar, I mean much bigger goodies like gadgets, household furnishings and expensive clothes. And many purchasing mistakes were made too, not least the result of a hefty credit-card bill.
Well I don't know what happened, but I've gradually realised I don't react that way anymore.
I hadn't particularly noticed the change until I started thinking about the last couple of months, where there have been a number of very stressful incidents that would have previously led me on a shopping frenzy. Even online shopping from the comfort of my own chair would have given me the same dose of adrenalin as visiting the shopping mall.
I can't confess to being a total non-consumer. The juicer and breadmaker that I bought recently can testify to that, but for once they were actually planned purchases that I made sure I really needed, not impulse buys. And when I set them up, I noticed that I wasn't brimming with the usual contagious buzz of acquiring something new.
Equally when Mr A arrived home before Christmas with a brand-spanking new set of dapper clothes, I didn't feel the urge to rush out to the shops because I was felt hard-done by and that it was my turn - yes that tit-for-tat shopping was once a bad habit of mine.
And then there was the rainy day back in Autumn, when I was tucked up at home and Mr A rang from an electrical store to ask how I felt about bringing home a brand new eco-TV, which we could hang on the wall and free up some extra space and connect up to the Internet. I reckon a year ago, I would have bitten his hand off with excitement at the prospect of some new technology but on that occasion, I stopped him in his tracks and appealed for him to come home empty-handed.
I've never liked our TV but it's only 6 years old and still works, so I found it hard to justify getting rid of it even on something like Freecycle. And tempting as it is to trade it in via one of the in-store "take-back" schemes, the thought of breaking it up for parts when it is in full-working order gives me a shudder.
Blimmin' 'eck! What's happened to me eh?
Is it middle age? Have we had enough years of accumulating stuff that we've got most things we now need?
And does this happen to everyone over 40 or is it that I'm simply more aware of how much energy and waste results from constantly buying new things?
It could be a combination of them all. I'd like to know because I no longer even feel the urge to keep up with the Jones...I lost that some time ago but it's definitely a turnup for the books if ever I've seen one.
So no wonder my mother recently said she no longer recognises me!
And I know what she means, I hardly recognise myself and it feels strange, in a good way of course, but still bizarre all the same.
One thing's for sure, I've saved a fortune on clothes and the other usual suspects and not buying that flashy TV has kept £1000 in our pockets. Of course I'll probably crack one day, but not for a long time yet, well not until digital TV coverage is in the bag and cheaper eco-technology too.
Is this a sign of the times perhaps or is it just little old me? I'd love to know if anyone else has experienced something similar and perhaps I'll no longer feel as strange as I currently do.