Hello, my name is Gemma, and I’m an addict. Probably not the sort of addict that immediately sprang into your mind then, I haven’t been to rehab yet (although the minute someone opens one for people with my condition I’ll be one of the first through the door), and my addiction isn’t making me physically ill as such, only my husband when he gets the credit card bill each month. No, my addiction isn’t the usual kind, you see, I’m addicted to being addicted.
I can tell you’re already sceptical, surely people get addicted to a particular thing, the usual suspects, drugs, alcohol, gambling etc, maybe even something like stamp collecting at a push, but addicted to addiction? No, that’s just silly. I understand, I’d be sceptical too, but trust me, this is not something I’d readily admit to, were the evidence not so damning. Let me tell you about the events that led me to this conclusion.
I would say come back with me to the dim and distant past, to a childhood that undoubtedly laid the path for my current predicament. This would be great, except that try as I might, I cannot find one single thing to substantiate this assumption. I mean I collected things as a child yes, stamps for one, and these funny little things called Pogs, which were as pointless as they were expensive. But none of these little collections ever escalated into anything more than that, just little collections of knick knacks that I couldn’t even tell you the location of now. I really don’t think there was any hint of what was to come. Of course, I may just have answered my own question there, note the use of the word ‘expensive’ a few lines back. Obviously being a real addict costs money, and that’s not something you have in abundance when you are a child. So no, there’s nothing to see back here in my idyllic village childhood, let us leap forwards in time to a period of infinitely more money and therefore infinitely more ‘stuff’.
My first big addiction only became apparent to me when I moved house. Until then I must have been in some kind of denial, because I honestly had no idea things had escalated quite so much.
Packing boxes to move is not much fun at the best of times, packing boxes with a two year old who’s entirely disgruntled that all his favourite trains are now lying at the bottom of a large packing crate is even less fun. Add to the mix a two week old baby with no concept of less than helpful times to be screaming for milk and you have a recipe for a nervous breakdown. To avoid this undesirable occurrence, I foisted the baby onto my husband, placated the toddler with a chocolate biscuit and fled to the sanctity of the spare room-come-office, a.k.a the home of Gemma’ s stash.
Stash, for those not familiar with the world of arts and crafts, is the word we crafty hoarding types use to refer to the collections of bits and bobs needed to complete our fantastic projects. Stash is a long standing joke in our circles, it is generally considered that we all have a little too much of it, and certainly have no qualms about adding to it. Obviously I couldn’t be included amongst these people, I didn’t have stash, and I only had a few cross stitch kits to my name, maybe the odd magazine.
By the time I’d filled the third packing box with my stash, I began to realise that I had perhaps been underestimating just how much I had accumulated over the course of the last few years. In actual fact, my stash was so impressive, a seasoned cross-stitcher would have been proud of it, and I’d only been doing it with any real enthusiasm just recently. I had more cross stitch kits than I could ever hope to complete in this lifetime, but they were all just so lovely.
At this point alarm bells should have been ringing. It’s obvious to me now that I am just not the sort of person who can admire something from a distance and be content to imagine someone else doing it, no I have to have it for myself, regardless of whether I can actually envisage myself making it anytime in the near future. You might even go as far as to say I’m addicted to buying the odd kit or two. But there’s no harm in that is there? I’m not sure the poor removal man that had to carry the boxes out (once the fifty or so cross stitch magazines had gone in there were four of them in total) would agree with me there!
About this time last year I was pregnant with my second son and feeling that warm inner maternal glow that you get when you are expecting. I was generally floating around imagining myself to be Ma Walton and thinking happily of all the wonderful things I would do with my new offspring (think running in meadows, baking cakes, swimming in the town pond – I blame the hormones myself), so when my mother in law offered to reintroduce me to the joys of knitting I jumped at the chance. Please don’t think badly of me, I really did believe I was the epitome of the 19th century Midwest earth mother and that knitting was only the natural thing to be doing. If someone had offered me a rocking chair I feel I may have just wept with the joy of it all.
Anyway, before knitting could commence there was the small matter of visiting the wool shop to get the required equipment. I’d been in wool shops before, but usually just on the outside chance they might have one or two cross stitch kits hiding away just waiting for me to discover them. Never before had I actually been in solely to look at wool, it was a whole new experience and not by any means an unpleasant one, I hadn’t noticed before just how many different types of wool there are, so many styles, colours, and so many things to turn them into. This really should have been another alarm bell moment, but as we all know, it’s not quite functioning as it should, and so I took note that wool shops may be somewhere to visit in the future and thought no more of it.
By the time I’d finished the jumper I’d been knitting for the new baby, it didn’t fit him, and the amount of wool I’d accumulated no longer fitted in the draws I’d allocated for it. I don’t know how it happened, it just sort of snuck up on me, a ball here, a skein there, and don’t even get me started on Ebay, that place was invented just to tempt people like me into buying things they can never hope to find time to use. I’ve had wool delivered from all over the UK, and even some from Germany. I don’t know what I want to do with all this wool, all I know is I have to have it! Once I get the taste for something, all reasoning goes out the window. I throw myself wholeheartedly into the project, I get all the kit, everything I need to make something spectacular, but then I never actually seem to make anything! This is generally because I get my head turned by something else to become addicted to.
My most recent addiction is to crochet. What started out less than a month ago as a quick lesson in crochet so I could finish the legs on a piece of knitting I was attempting, has now escalated into several books on the subject, acres of crochet cotton and every kind of crochet hook under the sun. It’s official, another addiction has begun.
Looking about, the clues are all around me. I’ve never been able to pass a bookshop without picking up several books, even though I already have lots I haven’t had a chance to read. We have bookcases and shelves filled with books because I also can’t bear to part with them once I’ve read them. And then there are the nappies. I started using reusable nappies with my second son to save money, and of course the environment. Well, the environmental thing has held firm, but I seriously doubt I’m saving much money. Have you seen how many fantastic nappies there are out there to be bought? Seriously, long gone are the days of boiling white terry squares, on my washing line right now is a long row of nappies in a rainbow of colours, I just can’t resist them! I blame Ebay for that too of course, I wouldn’t have half the opportunity to buy all these things if it wasn’t there, tempting me on an almost hourly basis.
So you see all the evidence points to an addiction to addiction. I just can’t help myself, hobbies turn into monumental excuses to go wild and hoard everything I can find that relates to it.
And the worst thing? I’m not overly sure I want to be cured!