“What a man dares to do, he should dare to confess- unless he is a coward.”
I’m going to make it a point to focus on “I” statements. Not because I’m trying to actively attack myself, but because coming to terms with my own issues will not be resolved by trying to deflect or lay blame on another person. I struggle with anxiety more than I realize, and today was a damn near Trojan War experience of awakening and coming to terms with what is clearly my most challenging trigger.
Finances. Money. Cash. In any form.
So much rides on money; stability, security, preparedness.
From an early age, I was conditioned that money was equal to freedom. My mother was financially secure because she always had a full-time job. Since my stepfather(s) could not match her in pay or stability it was all leveled on her shoulders. All the decisions and choices were hers to make because she was the one who had the money.
When I was 15 I began working a regular cashier job at a local grocery and quickly learned that since I was making my own money my mother basically saw it as I’m grown, so I can now cover any and all of my own bills. So, from the beginning, I was conditioned to see finances and money as nothing more than a means of abuse.
Three months after I graduated High School I was told I was to leave my house. My mother and stepfather basically saw me as a threat and no longer felt they should provide me with the essentials of survival. With this realization, it became very clear that college was out of the question, and survival mode was now activated. When I first moved out it was nothing but constant struggle. I wasn’t making enough at Warner Bros. as a gallery supervisor to afford the studio apartment I’d been forced to live in, and when that reality set in my mother was forced to help me once or twice.
Fast forward to me at 23; I had moved numerous times due to roommate issues, finally owned my own car in my name, was an Assistant Manager at PacSun making decent money, had a one-bedroom apartment, and was reliant on no one, mainly because there was no one I could be reliant on. Survival mode was still very much active. I worked two jobs during the holidays to make sure I was never without the essentials, but that’s exactly what it was: I was ensuring I had the essentials.
Another time spiral forward brings me to today. Nothing about my view of finances has changed. Not a goddamn thing in my head has changed. If nothing else, I have more anxiety about finances now because now have children who rely on my husband and me. It’s an ongoing pressure that has intensified in the past couple of months because of lost pay, lost opportunities, and a need to pay the mortgage.
Today it’s my obligation to admit a dingy, dirty, truth about myself that I normally beat down and attempt to ignore:
Finances are my greatest source of anxiety and weakest fail point.
This truth about myself is what makes me a weak partner in a marriage. I’d damn near say this flaw about my personality is base enough for a man to feel I was so weak as an adult that divorce would be considered. The debilitating abyss of fear and dread that swarms me when finances are being discussed makes me feel so inferior in a partnership that I have told Charlie on numerous occasions that I just don’t want to even discuss money. Mainly for the reason that I didn’t like being made to feel weak because of the fact, I have never, and I mean never, had a positive financial experience to work from.
I made a mistake yesterday and because of it, I could barely even look my kids in the eyes all day today. Any strife we suffer this week is due to me, and my inability to even remotely function when/if finances are involved. I had gotten so used to having Charlie warn me that “whatever is in the account is all we have,” that I didn’t’ think to question my motivation. It’s not his job to hold my hand and talk pretty to me about our financial situation just so I don’t get triggered and have an anxiety attack like I did today. I should be able to function as a fucking adult and go into our account and look to see what I have to work with.
I should be able to …
Emphasis on the “should be able to” part of that because it’s the truth. If a marriage is a team effort, and I can’t carry my weight for the team, then I’m the weakest link, and that’s exactly how I feel today. This has been the first time I’ve actually felt depressed about an issue I’m trying to work through. I think because this is the big one, the one I knew would come up sooner or later, and the one I try hardest to avoid. Nothing puts me into a panic quicker than money talk.
If I’m being transparent and real with myself I can admit that I’m unprepared to really deal with the issues we’re facing as a family with our finances right now. Charlie is the logical one who can and wants to have the hard discussions about money. I’m the one who wants to just be told exactly what I have to work with and then I can figure out the rest on my own. I don’t want to be included because this is where I have no power. As much as we want to say a husband and wife need to work together concerning money the reality is if one of the partnership isn’t contributing, then there’s a rift that opens.
As the person who isn’t contributing monetarily (as much as I’ve tried recently), I have no pull in the conversation about money. I can sit here all day and talk about how it shouldn’t be that way and how unfair it is to the spouse who doesn’t work, but let’s just keep this shit real and put it out there: money makers have pull. I am basically at the whim of the money that shows up in the account, and then I have to apply that to two kids, a dog, and a house. To say my anxiety is peaked literally all the time (even when our finances are better than they are now) would be the understatement of the century. It’s ongoing, it never stops. I never get a break from the constant, underscored, vibe of financial worry.
Since I’m focusing on “I” statements, let me also say that I’m fully aware of the burden Charlie faces as well. I’m not immune to the fact he struggles with having to be on the road, working non-stop, and then when we have bad months it all comes tumbling down. I carry the guilt and shame on my shoulders every single day that my husband has to be out on the road just to provide us with the essentials. I’m not trying to downplay any of his struggles by focusing so much on my own.
Truth be told I am such a hot mess when it comes to this element of our life I’m surprised he even puts up with me anymore. He told me he was angry with me today, and I do not blame him. I was so angry with myself I made myself sick. The anxiety attack that followed our very brief exchange of messages was enough of a reminder that this is my full stop issue. There was no excuse I made up or deflection I even bothered with this time. I just sloped my shoulders and let it all engulf me. I’d made a mistake and now I was going to have to figure it out the best way I could. I’m a shit human in this area, and I should at least admit that for Charlie’s sake. My inability to handle this component of our marriage is a source of resentment and bitterness, probably on both our parts. Understanding is not a luxury I can expect when it’s such a serious issue.
The only thing I can think to do now is to try and get a part-time gig. Anything is better than nothing at this point. I can’t be certain how I’ll function or handle working for the first time with kids and worrying about them, but I’ll be swapping one source of anxiety for another in the hopes that at least the latter will be helpful.
Should probably mention this issue at my next counseling session too.