Money Drunk Money Sober : Behaviors around money that make me feel shame

For this time period, I am working through Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan’s book Money Drunk, Money Sober before I work through the Prosperous Heart. The following blog entries are in response to prompts and experiences from the book. I see this as an extension of my Artist’s Way work. Some of my entries are jarring and highly personal – any program of sobriety and self-improvement demands admitting dysfunction both personally and in family, and it also calls to admit some painful truths. While not everything I work on appears here, a number of realities do. I have a genuine body of work thanks to my work on the Artist’s Way program, and I can’t ignore the changes the continual commitment has brought about. Because of that, I also can’t ignore what going further into the harder aspects of the program – like facing money issues – has the potential to improve.

Money is all tangled up in shame for me, so much so that Mike is constantly telling me to stop apologizing and justifying for things like groceries. I’m constantly scared that there’s going to be a big fit over some purchase I make. I know it’s a combo whammy leftover from my mother and my ex-husband. My mother was the one who violently opposed me buying a microcasette recorder when I was working for the student newspaper (“It’s a waste of money!!! … it most certainly wasn’t) and who had a full on tantrum when I looked into having my laptop fitted with a modem when the Internet became available at my college. Why she felt so proprietary of my money is bewildering to me – I was supposed to use it for what? Lipstick for husband hunting? I really was NOT at school for an MRS, I showed up because I meant it when I said I wanted an education. Even more bewildering, since she used to comment often on how much further I could stretch a buck than my sister ever could. Very probably it was just some expression of pride in her own poverty, and my interest in technical aids to make my life easier and work better (thus increasing chances of income) conflicted with her own poverty/martyr syndrome and her fucked up insistence that I HAD to have HER EXACT SAME COLLEGE EXPERIENCE even though that was physically and socially impossible.

Paris outside a patisserie-cafe

So, as an adult, I have done these very bad things. These are things I have not done since getting credit counseling:

  1. Maxed out credit cards
  2. Bounced checks
  3. Kited Checks
  4. Spending based on money I expected to receive but did not yet have.

The more depressed I was, the more likely one or all of the above would happen.

Now, the big shame trigger for me:

Unplanned purchases. I even feel a twinge when I pick up the check for another person when it wasn’t planned. Right now this is exacerbated for two reasons: I’m going through a health detox, and it’s not going well, so everything tweaks me. (I think I may actually be allergic to the stuff I was given to support the detox. So counter-productive.)

I also still put off getting things I really want in favor of smaller expenditures that give me a much shorter life of use. Why get that tablet scanner when I can buy chocolate? Etc. I’m working on this one as I track my spending – and my memory about my mother’s crazy behavior when it came to me making purchases to make my own life easier is explaining to me where that comes from. The woman clearly does not understand how time investment works on a small scale.

I feel guilty buying things for myself. That, I’m working on.