Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.



All my dragging of feet over talking to CK about how much debt I have right now came to an end when AM wrote a blog entry (public), not considering how I would feel about people knowing that fact. Suddenly it is out there and I felt anxious, ashamed. Finances are an area where I never have felt quite like I really get it. I get that I need to pay people certain amounts by certain dates and through painful error learned I must do this.

That I bought a house in 2006 is astounding and a little frightening to me, still. I never lived in an owned home growing up and within a few years of my parents finally buying a manufactured home my Dad was dying and my Mom ended giving the house back to the bank after all the planned upon pension payments dried up. When I was young my Mom and I lived in early Section 8 apartments, the first Christmas there we were one of the families "adopted" by the local fire department. I believe I got a tea set for present.

Cash was always short when I was a kid and the resulting tension was a constant companion, even while playing in the apartments of other kids I was friends with there. It got better when there was some more money, but I've come to have the perspective to see how poorly finances were managed. How sometimes decisions were made to spend money not because it was the right time, but because something was wanted. It was an environment impossible to learn good skills in.

Enter my first husband who ended up putting all the effort of household finances on me, not helping out when things were tight if it impacted his bills, quick to suggest that my bills be short changed, and even quicker to anger when things got messed up. I would try so hard, but even he provided the example of impulse spending to be made up for later (only later never arrived). When a roommate (his idea to have move in) began forging checks, stealing from us, once causing a short-fall and bounced check that then caused a utility to be turned off he was livid with me. After the truth came out, why there was a short-fall, that it wasn't my fault, he never went back and apologized for yelling at me. I still feel like at any moment I'm going to be screamed at for doing things wrong.

And into another relationship where immediacy was more important, impulse and gratification. During a time when there were two good incomes I managed to just stay ahead of the debt and what money I did save paid for a wedding. We would talk and talk about budgeting, getting better at staying within our means, and it wouldn't happen. Decisions would be made, effort wasn't made int he right place, and a couple of major feelings of disappointment over the fallout. So here I am hugely in debt, embarrassed about it.

CK has been calm, loving, supportive and positive. So much so I am unnerved by it. Here I am looking at things to cut out of my life, telling myself "no" to purchase after purchase, and feeling deeply ashamed of not being good with finances. Like I'm a very poor sort of grown up.

And instead she's talking about going to Hawaii for my 40th birthday in August. And she means it, if finances go well, which she thinks they will.

I've gone on very few big trips in my life. My parents sent me to one with my older step-sister when I was 13. An "American Heritage" tour of the D.C. area. It was probably debt they couldn't afford but did anyway. We took several car trips and would go camping, but most often my summers were spent partly with my Aunt J or, after she married my step-dad, with my Aunt D and Uncle J in Bremerton.

AP and I talked about a trip. I even got a map and hung it on a wall, pinpointing the journey. After a while I came to see that it would never happen, would never be a priority. I saw it at first with AM, but then he stopped working, wasn't really able to find anything and we adjusted. I knew we weren't going to make a lot of trips after that.

I felt unsettled by the discussion. At once excited, hopeful, and yet still feeling like I couldn't trust it. My mind was equally certain that something wasn't right and thinking, "after all I've messed up, why am being rewarded? Why isn't she yelling at me?"

Maybe just all along I've needed someone who is willing to share knowledge with me. Show an example of another way to approach things. Like so many things in my life I feel like I've had good ideas, but with no support or guidance they have never come to be what I imagined they might. From school projects, to artistic endeavors, to saving money.

Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

No comments yet.

Leave a comment

No trackbacks yet.