So there I was, thinking about how well my year of #nonewclothes2015 had gone, when BAM! I came off my bike at full speed and promptly came back down to earth with a crash.
I had slid on some tidal mud by the Thames, on a low-lying road on Chiswick Mall. The bike went sideways, I went shooting forward and landed on my knees. One minute I was flying along on my way back from Chelsea, the next I was sitting up in the road holding my knees and silently screaming. My Stella McCartney Adidas leggings only looked very slightly scuffed and a tiny bit of blood was seeping through the fabric by my right knee. Not visibly injured, a passing motorist stopped momentarily but went quickly on as I forcefully told her I was FINE.
In shock I dragged myself and the bike to the side of the road, onto the pavement, where feeling faint I lay down on the cold concrete with my legs up high against the wall (to stem the flow of blood, I thought). I must have made a strange sight there, as I phoned the school, asking them to tell Paul to leave the parents evening and come and collect me. Then a lovely cleaner from a near by house stopped and stayed with me as I waited for him, and then Cliona came running by - a GP friend from the school out for her run - saved by two cleaners!
When I got back home and took off the very robust rubber coated thick lycra leggings I realized I maybe needed to go to A&E for some stitches. Three hours later I was stitched up - 4 navy thread stitches, and about 8 butterfly stitches - jabbed for tetanus and sent home with painkillers. So began my two weeks on the sofa.
It all went quite well at first. I could still 'type and Skype' as I told my team in an email from Chelsea & Westminster Hospital and therefore work could still get done (and EU deadlines could still be met). College paid for taxi's to and from work so that I, on crutches, could make a few important meetings. (That's you, LN.) With regular doses of Ibuprofen and Codeine it was really OK. The kids rallied and Paul was my rock as usual. Half term came and went and I went 'mending in Wiltshire' - to recuperate and also to sew. I took that big box of stitching and darning with me - mum helped me revive garment after garment, which was very satisfying.
And then. A few weeks later, 4 to be exact, I felt... so awful. I hadn't exercised for a month - no yoga, no cycling, no walking. I had instead eaten well, and drank well. I was… fatter. My hair needed cutting, my legs needed waxing. My skin was grey. I was grey. My comfy loungewear was… too slouchy. I felt grubby. I felt I had aged by ten years in a month. I had an overwhelming urge to DO SOMETHING about it.
What could I do?
Friends, I went shopping to feel better. There. I admit it.
Off the crutches, I dropped the kids to football and tennis one Saturday morning and then found myself in Space NK. I bought expensive skincare products. I booked in to Toni and Guy and got a wash, cut and blow dry. I went to the spa and had a pedicure, wax and massage. I bought a yoga top from Sweaty Betty. I looked in second hand shops - but, you know, for the first time ever, I really didn't want anything OLD - I needed to be NEW.
In the space of a weekend I spent rather a lot of money. (I actually took unopened skincare products back to Space NK - sorry guys, that night cream cannot be worth £100, what was I thinking?) I consumed in an attempt to feel better. And, whilst slightly appalled by the drop in my bank account, I DID feel better. Much better.
Why am I recounting all of this to you on my blog? Because I experienced for the first time since my #nonewclothes2015 year began the overwhelming desire to Buy Myself Better. I have been working hard on Making Myself Better, but up until now I hadn't really had such strong emotional needs. Of course they seemed like physical needs too - but essentially I know now that this was an emotional response to a situation which I addressed through consumption.
According to The Mail, shopping really does make us happy. But I have never beleived a word they have printed, so I am not going to start now. There is plenty of advice on the web about how to avoid shopping to 'fill the void', so maybe if I had stopped myself in time I could have just gone for the haircut and spa trip and saved my money on the yoga top and beauty products.
But now I also need to buy myself knee pads. And elbow pads for Paul. Because guess what… he fell off his bike last week and has fractured his elbow. He was on his way to his press night at the National Theatre when a car pulled out right in front of him. He went over the handlebars, to hospital and then he went on stage and did the show, of course. And then again the night after. He hasn't bought anything to make himself feel better - yet. But I am keeping an eye on him. Is it different for men, do you think? How do they make themselves feel better?