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Finding my way through the fog of a financial family myth…

Thursday, May 15, 2014

This blog post seems kind of lame to me. I’ve tried to sort through two comments I wrote in my journal at the end of the essay in SBB’s book about financial family myths. I simply can’t do that without a lot of feelings from my childhood spilling over into the mix, into the money/food issues. It’s kind of intriguing how it all gets tangled up together.

They were: I have to buy the cheapest of whatever the thing is I’m getting; and, I should never spend all my birthday money or gift cards on just me.

When I asked myself why I’d feel that way, the answer that came creeping around in my head was guilt. And with it, a certain sense of shame, of I don’t deserve the good stuff or all of the money. And each and every time that feeling stalked me from the shadows of my mind, instead of allowing myself to feel it, examine what it meant, I kept it pushed down good and solid by sticking food in my mouth on top of it. I wasn’t about to write what I figured was all that childhood drama crap down again. My journals are already littered with paragraphs about unresolved feelings that are actually pretty normal to most kids.

Instead, I went ahead and read the next two essays in SBB’s book and I’ve come to the conclusion that, though I have a few unhealthy behaviors I need to work on – like being free enough to tell myself and others the truth about what I feel – there are also legitimate reasons for feeling the way I do about money. Yes, there may be some leftover garbage from childhood that makes me feel like I didn’t live up to my parents’ expectations and therefore I don’t deserve nice things or my own money, but I’m an adult now. It’s time I stopped using those hurt feelings as an excuse to dive into a bag of potato chips or a box of chocolates. And the truth is, I DO value relationships more than I ever did material things. I am far more willing to invest what I have in THEM. But there was something else that hadn’t occurred to me.

SBB talks about how she saw conflicting emotions about money in her parents’ life. Because they were both children during the depression, they learned to FEAR not having enough while still holding on to the dream that they could provide a better life for their children. But their desire to provide a better way of life for their families was tangled and tempered with their fear of not having enough to do that. And though I didn’t live through the depression, I did come from a storytelling father and mother who did. I’m wondering this morning how much of those conflicted emotions I picked up and took on myself from listening to my parents talk about those difficult years. More than I could have imagined, I’ll wager.

The one good thing I did get out of the last three essays in SBB’s book was the awareness that, for whatever reasons, I often DO demean myself when it comes to financial issues making it very hard for me to enjoy what I have. AND that I usually let it lead me to the kitchen. Well, I don’t have to put up with that anymore now that I see the behavior for what it is.

Oh, and the next piece of furniture I buy is going to be EXACTLY what I want!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I wanna see a pic of your new furniture. Everything you buy should be exactly what you want. You're a big girl now.
    1433 days ago
    I'm so horrible about spending any money on myself too. What happened to our generation? My folks struggled for every penny so that was my example? Then why do my girls spend money before its even earned? Drives me NUTS.

    I honestly can't say that this "trait" sends me to the kitchen but it does make me feel so horrible when my sisters are dressed up nice for an event and I am wearing the same outfit everywhere and yet...just can't justify spending more on myself.
    1438 days ago
    " I did not, however, head for the kitchen to stick something in my mouth." And this is a victory for you. You did see where it was headed and made the decision to NOT head to the kitchen. I'm SO proud of you for that! I know not all of these moments will be easy to handle. But by not heading to the proved you CAN do it!!! emoticon

    Luv Ya!
    1438 days ago
    Actually you put that really well, Angel. We are a lot alike. The whole time Arn was going to school and working full time, I held down TWO jobs to get us through not for quite the same reasons as you. But if we wanted the kids to stay involved in music and sports at school, that's what had to be. I'm so glad you posted this.

    And you're right about it being hard to change. I see how it's working in my life now. Even this afternoon when I showered I looked at the faded blue bath towels and thought how nice it would be to have some pretty ones -- lavender or sage green. And right on top of that thought was, "They're just towels for cryin' out loud. No one sees them. Who cares?" And I realized I do. I would like to have them just for me. And my heart kind of sunk. I did not, however, head for the kitchen to stick something in my mouth. I think maybe this is one of those behaviors that I can see comin' and head it off. I can actually feel the muscles tighten in my stomach when I feel that way.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing. What you said was awesome.

    1438 days ago
    Thank you girlfriend for being so honest here. Reading this made me think about my own growing up and how money/finances plays a part if who we are and how we, as adults, feel about those two things. When I was growing up, my dad was sick a lot. As in in and out of VA hospitals though most of my growing up yrs. My mom was the steady bread winner in the family. And I saw her sacrifice her needs/wants for the family. With very little recognition for that from my dad. So when I did grow up, where did I find myself? In the exact same position as my mom (although maybe on a lesser scale, my ex wasn't sick). My ex had trouble keeping jobs, so I assumed the same steady bread winner role that my mom did. When I would get any kind of gift money...I always felt it needed to go into the household pot, because that was my take of pay the bills (as best as I could), to be sure that my kids had three meals a day (not saying they were always the best..but my kids never went hungry..even if I did). Any thoughts of something I might want to buy made me feel guilty.

    I guess I'm still a bit like that to this day. At least with hubby. When it's his money...I tend to not ask for/get things. I'll wait until it's MY payday (this in fact, drives hubby cra cra!) to get whatever it is.

    So I can relate to how you feel. We are the sum of everything that has come before now in our lives. And that's not something we can change, at least not easily.

    Luv Ya! emoticon
    1438 days ago
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