When my x-husband and I separated, my money fears began to sound like death threats. I tended to be a money worrier anyway, but pulling the plug escalated my chronic worry from “there is not enough,” to “I’m gonna die and my little dog too.” Although I believed I had stayed in the marriage “because of the kids,” in hindsight, I now know I stayed because I was financially terrified.
Any therapist worth her salt would begin to self-diagnosis at this emotional juncture. So I began to notice myself from a therapeutic lens. Was my fear based in reality? Was I really going to become a bag lady? Were my kids going to starve? Be homeless? Were we going to die?
This soothed me as long as the sun was up. When it got dark my reality felt different. It had shadows. Scary ones that woke me in the middle of the night. I relied on Belleruth Naparstek’s sleep mediation to put me back to sleep; sometimes several times in the same night.
I was scared shitless.
Determined to survive, I sat down one evening with my check book, the months stack of bills, my faux-jewel keyed calculator, and a glass of wine. I lit candles and put a fire in the fire place. I was going to meet my fear head on!
That night I created a budget, estimating my utilities, calculating my necessary spending, identifying my unnecessary spending and taking deep breaths as I found my bottom line. I redid my son’s FASFA form indicating my separated parental status. I went shopping in my closet, finding items I had totally forgotten, so they felt new. I sorted through my freezer determined to use what I had before buying more.
At the end of the evening I sat straighter. I felt empowered. Instead of deprived, I felt abundant. My actions had created in me a sense of unfamiliar financial security.
The next month I did the same. Fire. Wine. Checkbook. Calculator. This time, as I wrote my checks I offered thanks for having the money to pay my bills. Even though there wasn’t much left over, I had done it! We were warm and fed.
Each month my money and I met, sat down and worked things out. I talked kindly to myself and my money, whispering sweet nothings as I worked. I smiled. I felt interested in my money and how it supported me. I named these meetings “Money Dates.”
Money and I grew close. We began to like each other. We even began to look forward to our time together on our money dates. I had the same monthly income I had from the beginning of the separation, but I felt totally different. My checkbook balance had not changed, but my relationship to my money had. It no longer woke me up in a cold sweat. I now trusted myself and, to my surprise, my money.
Money Dates are a vital part of growing your relationship to your money. Be creative. Have some fun. Invite your money on a date and see what happens. Don’t be surprised if it is not love at first sight. Give both of you some time. Take it slow. Be truthful with one another.
And don’t go to bed mad at one another.