I was with a friend yesterday, and we began to talk about money, and for me, it’s relation to safety. Why is it so important to me that I get my head around my finances, and have savings in the bank, and spend money that I don’t have? Because I believe that it makes me safe. If I know how to do this, I can be independent. I don’t have to depend on others’ (read: My dad) to rescue me from my financial disasters, or feel like a child when I end up in financially precarious times.
The money stuff is a place of shame, basically. And somehow, by keeping on the surface of all of it, instead of diving in, examining, and exorcising it, I remain skating in circles above the problem, as I have for years.
I don’t want to look at not feeling safe. I don’t want to acknowledge that I’ve bought into the “American Ideal” that a 401(k), a savings account, a house, a 4-star blender make me safe; but I have.
Last year, friend told me when I began to look more intently at my money “stuff” (aka ending up broke every year or so, living paycheck to paycheck constantly) that I am like a sieve, and until I close the holes, I’ll never be able to hold abundance, or even stasis around my finances. I believe her. I believe that being asked questions that make me uncomfortable about this compulsion will help me to close those holes, as it’s not just about money, is it?
Feeling safe, isn’t about money. It doesn’t just show up there; it shows up in other areas of my life. Like the sex/relationship “stuff” (aka being serially single) that I’ve been looking at again recently. I’ve always said that I think romance and finance are related, and I’m beginning to see a bit why.
If I’m single, I don’t have to be intimately vulnerable. If I continue to perpetuate patterns of financial chaos, I don’t have to be vulnerable. It certainly gives me something else to focus on, besides what might bring me joy or peace. I don’t know that it’s an exact apples-to-apples comparison that I’ve got here yet, but there’s something to it.
I have a friend who recently started drinking after a period of sobriety, a conscious choice she made, feeling that perhaps she wasn’t an alcoholic, having gotten sober so young, maybe she just wasn’t one. So, I’ve heard about her latest experiences, which have included the phrase, I was so drunk, and reports of near-rape. Great. Talk about not feeling or being safe.
My friend asked me yesterday if I felt safe, and I told him, No. Honestly. When I thought about it, I have the superficial feelings of it, sure – I know that sitting in that café, I was clothed, fed, unattacked, I was safe on a physical level, but, actually when he asked, and I really searched myself about it, the answer was No.
That’s an interesting response!
But, the truth is just that. I feel precarious. I feel cautious. On guard, most of the time. And it’s these feelings that keep me trapped behind putting myself and my writing and my art and my “valuable at work”ness out there. I have a list of qualities that I want to bring to my work which I wrote in response to some one of those “What color is your parachute”-type book exercises. I realize that each of them requires that I be more visible. That I put myself out into the world more.
Who would do that if they don’t feel safe? No wonder I haven't done it, and no wonder when I do float a test balloon into the world of myself, that I pull it back nearly immediately.
I’m doing work around this, therapies; and I think it would be worth my while to write some of this fear out, and see if I can’t get more clarity. What does safety mean to me? What would I need to do or change in my life to feel safe? Can I let go of the thought-habit that I’m not?
Certainly cancer is one of those massive fuckers that says, HEY GUESS WHAT? YOU’RE NOT SAFE AFTER ALL!!! But it’s not all there is. It’s not the whole truth or picture. Yes, as a human, I am vulnerable to the failings of my body. I am vulnerable to the texting-while-driving person who doesn’t see me in the cross-walk. I’m vulnerable to any number of things in this world – but – so what? Am I going to become an agoraphobic, and hide away? I’ve been hiding away for years, and it still hasn’t kept me "safe." So, perhaps it’s time to test the theory that occurred to me recently: I am not in control, and I am safe.