Today I’m starting the work by Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan on their 1992 book Money Drunk/Money Sober. I’m well aware that Cameron just came out with the Prosperous Heart, which is more in line with her Artist’s Way series. This awaits me on the shelf when I am done with the 90 Days of the MDMS.
I spent yesterday afternoon reading the first half of the book, and there were several alarming A-Has as I read through the profile of the most common types of money drunks. What’s especially sad is in the few places where I did not harbor some characteristics myself, I had definitely lived with someone who did.
For example, my ex-husband was a true Maintenance Money Drunk with several elements of the Poverty Addict. He hated his jobs, but refused to improve his interview skills to get a better one. Looking back on our entire relationship, the one core problem was money, all the time. His parents accused me of gold-digging from the moment we announced our engagement, and even when I was the breadwinner in our relationship, my ex always had that accusation somewhere in his mind. This is hardly a new experience, but it was especially painful for me since my parents were constantly demanding control over my life as a college age adult without bothering to put up the basic financial support the level of control they were demanding merited. The excuse was that they didn’t have the money. The reality is that both of them were, like me, “money drunks” and the money went to everything BUT me. Money was love – and all the money and love went to my sister, who also played into their poverty addiction/martyrdrom cycle. I was just as messed up, but I was determined to change my life on an economic level and that brought out a need in both my parents and my sister to attempt to punish me for it.
Since my divorce, I went into credit counseling. It was definitely a rehab, one which my credit score has only just started to recover from. I’m glad I did it – but I have treated myself like a recovering addict ever since. So I’m already inclined to be receptive about what this book/program has to offer.
As it was, under the categories of Money Drunks, I came up as a very strong “definitely” under the Poverty Addict. I also came up as the Cash Co-Dependent, especially in my childhood. I was formerly married to a Maintenance Money Drunk. I have elements of the Big Deal Chaser (I’ll make it when someone buys the book I’m writing!) and the Compulsive Spender – which also relates to some of my food imbalances, as compulsive spending often pairs for me with compulsive eating.
Reading the first half the book was of course horrifying – I know these people! But it was also a relief. I feel like I’ve found MY answer, the explanation for my family’s shitty behavior towards me, and even a traceable thread in other relationships I’ve had that have blown up.
Money itself is not the root of all evil. Love of money isn’t either, despite the adage. I’m willing to guess that addictive behaviors surrounding money is the number one untreated dysfunction in American families.