Wednesday, August 6, 2008

P4E.083 The sadiM Touch

I try to be transparent in these posts. When I'm good you'll know and when I'm not good, you'll know that too. This is a "mind dump." Not thought out. A stream of consciousness. Establishing where I'm at right now so that I can move from here. A pity party and a going away party. I don't want to mentally or emotionally or spiritually stay here anymore. This is where I'm at:

I hate money. I hate money because it seems to hate me. You've heard of people who have the Midas touch, where everything they touch turns to gold? I have The sadiM Touch. Everything I touch turns to, well, excrement.

I've never been good with money. I never learned how to handle money or the "value" of it as a young man. Some people have a wonderful ability to visualize how events will transpire when they do this or that with their money. Their minds are able to bend around the intricacies of interest rates and supply and demand. They have a sense of appreciation and depreciation and value and timing. I have no such vision.

Reading what I've just written, you'll find it impossible to believe that I was self-employed for over 17 years. Well, it wasn't a lucrative 17 years. Professionally, financially, emotionally and spiritually I would have been better off being employed by someone else. Finally, as part of the effort to save my marriage, I left private practice and have been employed for the last 3-1/2 years.

Becoming a Believer was, in a way, a consolation for me. Taking to heart a belief system that eschews the material world and teaches that "the love of money is the root of all evil" has been a convenient salve to my inability to handle or accumulate money. But, as with so much of life, my spiritual beliefs collide with the physical realities in a very inconvenient truth. The differences between my spiritual beliefs and my physical realities have given me opportunities to practice what I preach. I've failed miserably more often than not. I feel caught between the disdain for money and the need to make and spend and keep more. It's confusing to believe, on the one hand, that God will provide all my needs and, on the other hand, to get up every morning, shave, shower, get dressed and walk out the door to work, taking my destiny into my own hands. It's humiliating to feel so small in a world where one's importance is many times gauged by how much money one has accumulated.

I have such a bad track record with money that I cannot even discuss the subject calmly with my wife, Gwen. Every conversation finds me making Gwen feel controlled and scolded. Fear and failure and gloom hang over my spirit as I even approach the subject. Budgeting seems a completely useless exercise as there is always something I forget to budget or some unexpected expense that wreaks havoc on my budgeting efforts. I alternate between budgeting and cutting back (on all this high livin') and devising schemes to just simply make more money. I never seem to be able to offer any hope to Gwen in this area. It always seems like bad news.

My melancholy nature and "glass is half empty" attitude don't help matters much. I lack the ability to be encouraging when I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. I vacillate between trying to be nonchalant about money matters and white knuckle controlling every nickle and dime.

One of my regrets has been not handling my finances in such a way that my sons could see a positive, balanced example of what that should look like.

I have many times compared my life to George Bailey's in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." Much of the movie revolves around money. The line in "It's a Wonderful Life" that I relate to most comes when Clarence, the angel, says "Oh, no no, we don't have money in Heaven," and George Bailey replies "Well, it comes in pretty handy down here, Bub!" Mr. Potter describes my situation pretty accurately when he says to George Bailey, "No securities, no stocks, no bonds. Nothin' but a miserable little $500 equity in a life insurance policy. You're worth more dead than alive!" The problem is, I have term life insurance, which has no equity....(See what I mean?)

Gwen says that I've always undervalued myself and my abilities. Low self-esteem and low (or mishandled) income seem to go hand in hand. I haven't had and still have no financial plan. I'm easily daunted, easily overwhelmed. Gwen would say wimpy. Weak.

There are times when I want to quit, but I know that's impossible. More often, I just try working harder or putting in more hours, which has demolished my family life.

Well, that's where I am right now. Like I said, mind dump. I don't like it. I don't want it. It feels like the Titanic slowly moving towards the iceberg. No way to change course quickly enough to avoid disaster. I won't be winning the Lottery any time soon. (You have to buy a ticket to have a chance.) I wouldn't want a lot of money if I did have a chance to win it. I've seen how unhappy people who have a lot of money can be .

It has been cathartic to write it all out this way. My goal in writing it out has been to establish a benchmark. A LOW POINT. A place from which to say, "God help me, it's all uphill from here!"

Am I just crazy or have you ever felt anything like this?

Your fellow traveler, Kim


  1. Um...yes. Not good with money either. I'm not extravagant and don't need luxury items, but the whole idea of money and financial planning is so boring and awful. I have a tendency to kind of fly by the seat of my pants.

    prayers for you.

  2. Very insightful, Kim. I remember one time when gasoline went over $3 and my own dh was making 24K annually, single income, family of 10, I was soooo very tempted to worry. I have a long history of being a worrier. Worry is sin, lack of faith. I confessed my temptation to sin because gas was so high and we use a lot of it (living in the boonies).

    GOD reminded me that HE is my FATHER in heaven and HE knows our needs.
    GOD reminded me to TRUST HIM.
    GOD took away my anxiety and gave me peace.
    Circumstances didn’t change but my heart had peace.
    GOD wasn’t doing any hand-wringing over the price of gasoline.
    GOD LOVES me and GOD is trustworthy. Matt 6:25-34 and Phil 4:6-7

    I see God shepherded us down into a financial valley. We spent many years at low income and the personal financial "recession" descended to "depression" level. I used to enthusiastically "help" my husband with resumes and applications and he lost the jobs I "helped" him get. I couldn't do that anymore. I felt like it was a form of enabling on my part, digging him out of a pit where he needed to be for reasons known only to God.

    His father had told him when he was a little boy "you'll never be able to support a mama cat" and I believe my husband spent decades living under the power of that negative prophecy/"anti-blessing" by his earthly father.

    A wife's blessing alone cannot undo that. :( Like your wife, I always knew he underestimated his own worth. He also engaged in self-sabotaging behavior which led to frequent job termination.

    When he was in that 24K job, he was not making much of an effort to look for more suitable work. He would send out a resume every 6 months or so and he'll tell you they were not polished resumes. One day- within one hour of time- two companies called him for an interview. One was from a resume he sent a month back. Another was from a resume he sent a year back. I really felt like God was teaching me how very much in control of these things HE is! The companies had a bidding war which raised the salary and actually he wound up working for one of them for 6 months and moving to the other one because he considered the work more interesting. The money is abundant these days. Now the struggle is the time. Since he likes the work so much, he isn't good about saying "no" and keeping his commitment to family. ((((((sigh)))))))

    But I do know this is all in God's hands. My husband now finally HAS what his earthly daddy valued so much (money). I suppose he's in God's school to learn how money really cannot fill the vacuum in his soul...