I rarely think about my relationship with money, yet it’s something I think about everyday. Maybe it’s because the two of us have such a complicated relationship.
It was the root of so many arguments between my parents growing up, and the cause of much shame and resentment for me because I could rarely have anything new. I knew my parents couldn’t afford much so I didn’t ask for much, which left me with a feeling of quiet sadness.
At the end of my first summer job working as a recreation councillor (I forget my actual title, but it was me in charged of kids only a few years younger than me–I yelled, a lot), I decided to go on a shopping spree a la “Pretty Woman”, which should have been amazing, oddly left me feeling joyless. I remember walking through the mall with my shopping bags and hearing a man behind me say, “Look, rich people.” Whether he was referring to me or not, it deflated my joy and made me feel guilty for having money, for finally having money of my own to spend.
So… I felt shame for not having money and for having money. Complicated? Yeezus, yes.
I can’t say our relationship is much better now that I’m an adult. I still feel guilty when I buy things for myself and I definitely feel bad when I don’t have enough in the bank. Lately, I’ve been thinking that all this struggle is totally unnecessary, that what I should really do is embrace the discomfort I have with money. Why do I make it so complicated? It’s simply a means to buy things, but I’ve made it into an active participant in my life who often has vetoing rights in my decisions; I allow it to judge me and dictate my self-worth. This is unhealthy and has to stop.
My aim is to have a positive relationship with money, where I feel comfortable and joyful about it. I’ll simply take a deep breath and walk through my discomfort and anxiety. As terrifying as this makes me feel, I’ll just keep walking forward.