Money, My Mistress…..
My weekly Hoarders Anonymous meeting last Tuesday brought me to the realization that that we all hoard in one way or another. What are you hoarding in your New York apartment? Cats, newspapers, or simply lifelong debilitating relationship anxiety?
Before you skip your work lunch in anticipation to be schooled on hoarding, calm the f*ck down. This isn’t a blog about hoarding, so if that’s what you were longing for, it’s best you tune in to A&E. I’m merely drawing from the secrecy that accompanies hoarding and relating it to money woes. Didn’t you read the title?
Anyway, a few weeks ago, I wandered into a “Payless” that was going out of business to discover a woman blasting up and down the size 8 aisle as if the store were closing indefinitely within the hour. She had a stroller with toddler in tow and yet still a great deal of vigor. I had many questions. Is there a fire? Is she looting? Why is she sweating so profusely?
This chatty Cathy breathlessly informed me that she had to hurry home as she thrust her foot into a heel that even I knew was too small.
She spouted, “If I don’t hide these shoes before my husband gets home, he’s going to murder me in my sleep.”
My brows rose hoping that she was joking and that I wouldn’t read about her in the news the next day. She scurried away with heels in tow intent on living another day.
Minutes later, to my shock and horror, I caught a glimpse of a baby in the reflection of a mirror reaching out from his stroller! No longer at the checkout counter, she had abandoned her child!
When would she notice and return? Would she? Why wasn’t he wearing shoes? Should I wipe the drool off of his chin? What was that smell?
So many questions, so little answers. All because she was solely focused on high tailing it home and hiding those shoes!
Oddly enough, I could relate to Cathy’s anxiety and hiding of purchases from a significant other. As I played a half-ass game of peek-a-boo with the abandoned baby, flashbacks flooded my mind.
It suddenly dawned on me, I had become my mother. I can still remember her hiding her new clothes in my closet as a teenager before my father got home to avoid any potential conflict about spending on "unnecessary" things. Ten years later, my boyfriend would catch me in the act of sneakily retrieving a hidden pair of bejeweled 4-inch heels that I had stuffed in the back of our freezer. Oooopsie.
As he scolded me, my mind would race grasping for the last chore he neglected or how many times he had deleted my "Snapped" episodes on TIVO...... anything to deflect potential judgment. The discomfort and anxiety was overwhelming when it came to spending or being judged for spending!
I had some serious money sh*t to work out. It seems that most of us do! It impacts our relationships more than we realize. What are your money hang-ups?
I often find myself on the edge of my chair in sessions helping couples discover their money sh*t. And, NO, I don't actually curse in sessions, unless you are a Saturday client. Saturdays get crazy. It usually helps to stretch beforehand and cry afterwards. But let's stay on task here.
Bringing it back to professionalism....clinically speaking, money sh*t would convert to “money scripts”. Money scripts encompass a multitude of fears and emotional wounds attached to certain behaviors with money.
Money scripts can involve strong emotions tied to spending it, having it, hiding it, needing it, wasting it, underspending it, saving it, borrowing it, loaning it, hoarding it, resenting it, lying for it, lying about it, rejecting it, denying it, mistrusting it, charging it, selling your soul for it, running out of it, avoiding it, budgeting it, fearing the fu*k out of it, swiping and crossing your fingers for it, jeez the list goes on.
Money scripts are entangled with beliefs from our family history that guide our financial behaviors, compulsions, or secrets. Consider what money scripts are at work in your life and relationships. How have they impacted your relationships?
Perhaps you are subconsciously avoiding money because you align it with more pain than good? This could be linked to an idea that was imprinted in your childhood that “rich = evil”.
Or it could be the extreme opposite where you worship money to your detriment believing that money will solve all of your problems and that it is the ultimate end-all-be-all for happiness. Maybe you have traits of extreme frugality due to a childhood experience of "not having enough".
What have your experiences communicated to you about money? What feelings are interlaced in these narratives? And how might these stories be wreaking havoc in your relationships? What are your money scripts? Dish!
Stay tuned for Part II of Money my Mistress…..