Money Drunk Money Sober: last post – how I’ve improved in 90 days

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.

1. The biggest way? I have a savings system for my small but significant goals. Those goals include:

  • Getting into the online Artist’s Way program Julia Cameron runs. Did it – I’m currently enrolled and on week 4, sort of. I already have the foundation practices, so I’m hoping to spend a little more time in the forums and at some point in the future start teaching Artist’s Way classes myself.
  • Enrolling in the Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Course.
  • Enrolling in the Midwest School of Herbalism.
  • Smaller, but just as significant: getting certification from the American Tarot society.

I feel like I should justify not finishing grad school, etc. etc. but I won’t. I haven’t fully decided whether I’m going back or not, and really, I’d feel better if I published a larger body of work before I tried. Also, I HATE asking for letters of recommendation. It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable. I’m generally ashamed to ask, which is a much bigger stumbling block for me than taking the GRE. I feel like I should take a few classes outside a program first if I do that.

While none of these things technically improve my career – I can’t imagine how I’d even fit in tarot clients, let alone get them these days –  they’re a nod to my 20-something self who really did want to do all these things. But in my teens, I lived with a mother who felt that a household was only “good” if at least one child was ruled by fear forcing me to pretend childhood while often being the only functional adult in her house, and then I went on to marry a man who bragged about wearing T-shirts that said “Kill All Artists” and who would go ON about how useless creative people were in society. I am aware that without those useless people, he wouldn’t have been able to check out on our marriage with video games, chatlines, and RPGs. But essentially I went from a house of “you’re not allowed to feel safe or be who you are because WE have decided that you’re not allowed to decide or discover your identities for yourself” to a marriage of “you’re not allowed to feel safe or be who you are or be who you are because I have decided that you’re not allowed to decide or discover your identities for yourself.” My ex-husband was far too unmotivated to make it that actively hostile, but the thought was always there with him.

Still, I have a system for it now.

2. I no longer avoid checking my bank balances.

I would sometimes go for weeks without recording expenditures. Now I’m in touch with them daily.

3. I am included in managing household finances.

Mike was handling all of them and we got to that situation because of my health problems.  I’m now involved in recording expenses and can see how the cash flow is or isn’t going. I even did ALL of our bookings and shopping for an upcoming vacation. Without a sense of autonomy, I lose my sense of responsibility. I have a lot of weird guilt issues that go back from before I got sick, where if I’m not carrying the ENTIRE load for EVERYBODY, I haven’t done enough/I’m not good enough. There was the damage from my mother going ON about how much debt she and my father were in/how little money they had (sometimes for entire 45 minute car rides, and at least once a week she’d have a “sit down” with me about how badly we were all doing financially) and there is the additional scar where my ex-in-laws accused me of gold digging when I got engaged to my ex. I’m pretty sure the “gold digging” accusation came up because I didn’t own a car. Or else they were angling for a dowry – my ex and his mother both had some hoarding issues, so there was some damage there that had nothing to do with me, but I still got abused with it. Financial bitterness and manipulation is how my ex extended our relationship in an attempt to get me back – it was manipulation that came from his darkest, nastiest, and most in need of therapy place, because that man is fucked up when it comes to money and having control over his life.

It’s pretty obvious from all the triggers that got tripped that the financial attitude goes straight back to my mother’s financial helplessness combined with how she used money and financial control as one more tool to treat me like dirt. My father also tried to use money to control my behavior at times, but he would realize what he was doing and back the hell off – and he NEVER repeated the weird controlling stuff after he recognized what he did. I can’t say the same for my mother. It’s the crazy/sane thing – my dad had moments of crazy. He had an emotional reaction he wasn’t in control of, and when he came to his senses and sorted out his emotions, he also assessed the damage he did to me and held himself accountable. He would even apologize, and it was a REAL apology. (My mother is the queen of “I’m sorry but I was TOTALLY JUSTIFIED in treating you like shit because I am your mother and that entitles me to behave like a sociopath!”

My mother, on the other hand, seems to unleash these “crazy” behaviors at regular intervals because she wants to produce a result of long-term control. I see a calculating pattern to it. Someone who is unleashing emotional and physical trauma on another human being aiming for a result isn’t crazy – but is evil. Especially since the result she seemed to be aiming for was lifelong control, which is something NO adult should have over another adult – even if it is a parent/child relationship. ESPECIALLY if it’s a parent/child relationship.

Why is the parental thing so significant to the amount of household autonomy I have now?

4. I’m finally addressing my health issues…again.

I sucked it up and went to the dentist last fall. I’m seeing a new allergist today who hopefully WON’T throw pills at me and tell me to see him again in a year, and I’m going to talk to him about possibly sending me to an endocrinologist. I have been seeing an acupuncturist, but he seems to think weight loss is the ONLY way to treat system inflammation, even though logic dictates that reducing inflammation would have the BYPRODUCT of weight loss. He might pound his chest about health, and I know he’s good at what he does – but I do not feel respected right now. I feel like he equates “health” with “looking like someone he might want to fuck,” though I’m sure he’s not conscious of that logic stream at all, and he only seems to be just figuring out that I didn’t get fat by sitting on my ass eating Ho-Hos, or really eating all that much, period. I’m also having a very hard time asserting myself with this guy, and this I consider an alarm bell, too – especially since Mike’s pushing me to be assertive, and I don’t think he fully understands that for some reason I’m missing the ability to, probably because I’m losing IQ points to malnutrition. I avoided most of these treatments because I simply did not have health insurance or the money for them, and being on MN care is often translated by doctors as “give the minimal care I can get away with,” despite that shitty approach LEADING to people overusing the system because they have to keep going back for treatment and thus driving up costs. Diabetes screenings, pap smears, all that – I’m aiming to get that all done by December, so I can start the new year knowing what the hell is going on with my body. It does require drastic change – a diet is inevitable. I’d just prefer one that doesn’t interfere with my ability to write.

5. I feel like more things are possible now.

This is partly a byproduct of the artist’s way. I try things. I do things. I organize things. And it’s fun.