What my marriage taught me: about my relationship with money

When I met this guy, I had a good job. I owned (at least financed) a condo, and had a time share. I had one of my many VW’s and I was independent. I didn’t need anyone to help finance my survival.  I actually took a trip with him that he financed. That was fine with me, if he wanted to do that. He didn’t just kinda seduce me with his constant treats. Dinners, snacks,  a trip to Mexico. Whatever…. he did seduce me. I got swept away with all this free goodies when I dated this guy. We broke up a few months after the Mexico trip in the spring of 2006.

Advance to December, 2008: He contacted me. I fell for him all over again. I will skip a lot of these details of the marriage, but the beginning was the end. The alpha and the omega. And I didn’t even realize it. I thought this was the beginning of a long beautiful marriage; we eloped in the Bahamas. He suggested I would want rings, engagement and wedding bands. YES. I wanted it all. Of course I did. I have never been married and I didn’t care about a big wedding or even  a wedding dress that lasts a few hours. I wanted the jewelry that would last a life time. We talked in the Bahamas about money and our financial situation. Suffice it to say: I wouldn’t need to worry, he said. He’d handle it, he confirmed. I was elated. Everything looked good. Maybe it always looks good at T minus 4 days. So four or so days later we got married, in the Bahamas as planned. It was simple and the details are important, but not in this context. It was  not all that  perfect in those elopement days.  I will get to that in another post in my three-part series.

We returned home. We lived an interesting existence based his income alone. I loved not working, but what I dealt with in the mean time was definitely not what I had bargained for. Let’s just say  the meat of this marriage is what I am saving my memoir for. I want to share about the relationship I had with money and how its affected my relationship now as a result of this marriage. I lived in this marriage, free of gainful employment. But I worked for it. Believe me. I worked. Nothing is for free.

In 2010, I went packing. I took everything I owned in one evening. While my ex-husband claimed he was my meal ticket during those last days, I begged to differ. I lost everything that was mine and became dependent on his income because I had NO RESPECT FOR THE VALUE OF WHAT I HAD: My profession. My own income. My own belongings, in my own name.  Even my own measly retirement funds. I was seduced by what he had to offer and lost sight of what I had to offer because his purse was larger.  But his purse strings were tighter. I was given about 3-5 hours to frantically pack all my memories into cardboard boxes. I had already had my American Express frozen and a visa I had from the marriage rendered unusable as well. Mortifying, as this happened in a busy line at Walmart. Thankfully, I had thought to get as much money as I could out at an ATM while I still could.  I packed my things and left to return to Denver, Colorado, my long time home.

Within a year, I was divorced and regained my  maiden name. Within two years, my ex-husband had chosen to hold me responsible for the home we ‘bought’, even though the court agreed he had signed up to make payments. I was  bankrupt within the next year.

With 3 months to go, I am looking forward to the end of my bankruptcy. As I  regained footing in my chosen profession, I had a job and I filed according to my capability to repay. I have learned so many things. So much that seems cliché and obvious by theory. So much that people assume as transparent conclusions. Maybe I am slow and had to learn the hard way. Maybe I am greedy and I had to have it taken away from me back in 2009.  Maybe I am all those things. But I don’t think I am the only one. I can’t be the only one seduced by a financial situation that seemed so fantastic, it was worthy of erasing any self-worth.  SO yeah, I got away with living in alternative RV life style, seemingly semi- retired for  less than 24 months, but I  paid the price. I definitely paid the price. I sold my self worth and self-respect and pride to a higher bidder; i was seduced by shiny objects, starting with an over priced engagement ring and wedding ring, followed by an oversized SUV, etc.etc.etc.

What I learned in the last 6 years:

1.NOTHING IS FREE. EVER.

2. I can survive on way less than what I THINK I NEED.

3. I can choose to value what I have if I can learn to respect how hard I had to work to get it.

4. I can choose to be frugal, even when my pride is bruised.  I learned how to cook and buy what I need, not what I have coupons for. I have learned to buy  (more) whole food and avoid packaged food. This is really the cheaper way to go in the long run.

5. I can learn that one can survive in a CASH ONLY EXISTENCE; my debit visa card was a good thing to have:  my bank didn’t have to give an account to a bankrupt person, but they did. This visa debit card made it much easier to use cash.

6. I MUST value what I have, even if the price tag and asset summary seems like a joke. IT’s not a joke. Its mine. And I will NEVER lose my self-worth again. I just can’t afford to.

My relationship with money has changed dramatically. While I wish i did not need to go through a divorce and bankruptcy to teach me the real value of self-worth and monetary assets, it changed the way I see everything I consume and everything I choose not to consume. I consume less so that I can have more. I buy less food so that I can feel better about my health. The benefits of my new outlook go on and on. But it’s not all about the money.

My next two installments  in this series address the other perspectives changed as a result of my marriage. I know I will tend to skip big pockets of time, but those pockets are filled with other lessons, other turmoil that aren’t germane to the post at hand.

What is not covered n the three-part  post series I am going to complete will be addressed in another format, to come hopefully in the next year or two.

 

Please comment if you can share about your experience. I would love to hear how other people have learned from financial crises and changed the way they see themselves and the way they spend/use money.

 

 

Happy new years!

I want to wish you all a happy new years! Please, 2017, just get here!!

I realize that I have announced my three-part series on what my marriage taught me, but have not yet posted. I became a little distracted by two other issues that I will call real life issues; I want to occasionally have a real life series as well. I knew that I wouldn’t have  a shortage of topics. I am so  grateful the writer in me has a lot to say. I just don’t want to make promises about upcoming posts that don’t get written quite as quickly as I had anticipated. I just seem to simultaneously want to unleash as much as possible. That’s my conflict and writer’s struggle!

So far my real life issue topics:

Sexual assault and consent (at any age)

Bullying (old school, cyber….)

There’s more that will come up, I am sure, but those are the ones that speak to me now.

Please be patient and if you have a preference before this Tuesday, please let me know which of these topics should I write on first? Should I write on both then move on to a consecutive posting on my three-part series?

Please comment on any preferences on how /what order I present? Otherwise, I guess we will all be surprised!!

 

Paired music selection right now: I am listening to Tori Amos (Little Earthquakes). I saw her at Red Rocks and at DU. Powerful musician. This album says a lot for me about the real life issues I mentioned above. She’s what’s on my mind now.

If you are out and about please be careful.

If you are at home, be good to yourself and sleep well.

 

HAPPY 2017!

 

 

Good secrets, bad secrets…: My introduction to a three part series on what my marriage taught me

Are secrets okay? Are we only as sick as our secrets? Why do we keep secrets? I feel that sometimes we keep other people’s secrets and some of our own to preserve a bit of privacy and dignity, some self-respect and a dash of mystery.  We keep secrets about  arriving baby gender, relationships (of any type), opinions on work, money and politics.  We do this to keep the peace and keep our opinions and personal history to ourselves. Is there anything wrong with this?  Other times, our secrets aren’t based in any nobility.

Our other secrets are not based on dignity, respect or privacy.  These secrets  build upon each other, slowly growing till they get so big. Then   airing out  these well-kept skeletons is so daunting, it’s scary. Super scary. If we wait long enough, the secrets create a solid icon clad wall. The wall is fused with pride, fear, and  insecurity including financial and emotional. To get through this from the inside out we have to be strong. SO strong.  This is the part that can really suck. Like.Really.Suck.  We can’t expect others to get in if we can’t even get out. These are the secrets that make us sick and poisoned inside. Poisoned by the pride that makes us feel that we are better than you. The toxic insecurity that makes you NEVER as good as.  These secrets that destroy us. Unless…..

Unless we can talk or write or get out alive. This is why I want to write about what my marriage taught me. I can write about it.  I want to share it because if it gives you pause, if it makes you think about how you view  something sour and wretched and awful, then I say thank you. I have done my job writing this three part post series:

Part I: What my marriage taught me about my relationship with money

Part II: What my marriage taught me about fear

Part III: What my marriage taught me about me and future interpersonal/romantic relationships

 *****************************

I am going to ask for your input, your experience,  how your last relationship prepared you for the next one!
Stay tuned!!

Just another hopeful cynic?

What happens when you are an optimist who sees the worst and the best in people? Do you get jaded? Do you get frustrated and resentful? Do you just figure their bad day is not connected to you? They are having a bad day and that’s okay because things are generally all good? Are you past your nonjudgmental phase,  resigned to the fact that everyone must have sufficient baggage to sink a battleship?

I think at one time or another I have felt  all of these things more or less simultaneously. Is this a  study in contradictions or just an understanding of simple human nature? Are we  not some balance of both tendencies, depending the day, hour, or minute? Are we convinced the next great thing/relationship/job is out there for the taking? Or are resigned to the fact there is no great thing  or it will turn to shit or sabotage anyway and why bother?  I think this is where we make up our mind and when we flip the coin and predict, it determines our overall general inclination. And I think that is what makes me somewhat optimistic.   I know when I see the next great thing, I  go out and grab it. Because its amazing. Because it’s there.  A Scot once said to me “what’s meant for you won’t go by you” (I am paraphrasing this sentiment, this   Scottish saying). I believe it’s there because I have seen it and it has been tangible and the sensation of  its possession is palpable; I am cynical  with the whole carpe diem  thing, however: I am pretty convinced I may not see anything like it again.  Nothing this good happens twice.

Yep, I am just another hopeful cynic….

Humility comes free with every break-up

As I realize clearly that my last several weeks of posts about that most recent past relationship were written in an authentic anxious frenzy of nerves, fear, and insecurity, this should come as no shock.

I need to get back on track. I need to return to me. I must clearly identify the triggers that sent me into an indeterminate tail spin born from red flags BEFORE the tail does, in fact, go spinning. I realize  my  mounting intensity in the last year has sabotaged me from different opportunities, different  paths. I would say that’s all fine and that’s just “who I am”. Except that it is NOT who I am. Not.At.All. At least it’s not the best version of myself. I’d like me back, thank you very much.  I think we all deserve to become a better version of ourselves. Am I right?!  It is truly the hardest battle. I think I survived the atrocities and Hell from 6 years ago on adrenaline and fumes. That was hard, but not impossible.

Now, I recovered from that Hell all proud and full of newly found and well counseled strength. I didn’t need to worry about my past anymore. I deserved to move on, right? Problem is, I left the future in the rear view mirror. I left it lying in the dust. I gave that horrid history  a kick in the ass. I gave that road to Hell no respect. Then the Ego returned. Even after a plague fell on my heart and I thought I would remain humble for an eternity.

I realize I am a strong person, with some definite unplanned imperfections. I need to be far more honest   (maybe even excruciatingly brutal)  with myself to minimize the needless suffering I endured the last few weeks. When a friend used this term after she read a blog post of mine, I thought it was harsh. It wasn’t. It was actually said with love and within minutes I could see that. I need to take action. Now.

 

So have you experienced humility that was temporary, but you thought it would last you a life time? Years later, you forgot your struggle. You didn’t stay true to who you are?

 

When I first started my blog, I posted this pair of jeans; you all told me to keep them. I did. I should have looked at them more frequently. They are a reminder of that humility:Blue Jeansimg_0516

Tell me about it. I want to know.

Thank you!

 

The Long Term Bullying Effect?

I am  pondering more on how  and why I react to the anger and blame of others. I have just started to see that sometimes, perhaps I am just conditioned to accept the blame and anger poured out on me. I may be inconvenient, dramatic. I may need something from you. With all of this being said,  I know who I am. I understand the importance of the integrity, character and ethics I was raised to incorporate into my daily life. I don’t manipulate you or cheat on you. I won’t lie to you. Is  it  that why I am a target for people who just  feel the need to blame someone and it seems easy to blame the nice one, the one that sees the best in people. The one that will forgive you, because maybe, you just had a bad day.  This week, I had thoughts for the first time in a very long time about the bullying that went on during my elementary/middle school years. My thoughts turned into a theory this time. I had never once thought the bullying when I was a kid had anything to do with relationships I have now, especially the romantic ones. Where’s the connection? Is there one? I mean, after all, I grew up and become a professional after college and grad school How would my grade school recess misery translate to any anxiety in my current relationships, period?

Long ago, I was wearing the target. In grade school. Everyday. On the bus, in the school yard. In class. The target was super-sized, before super-size even existed. Bright colors and all. So obvious. I had no social skills, no game, not much going for me. Last one picked for teams in  gym class. That one. You know who I am.  I was called all kinds of names (“reject”, “retarded”, “loser” were a select few repeated daily). Jokes played and humiliating tricks weekly.

For all of those who read this and say “toughen up, thicken your skin” to a child bullied,  why should an innocent child thicken their skin due to the rudeness and abuse from other children?  You may say that the child will have to learn this eventually beyond the school yard, so start now. That’s awesome. If you recognize there is an unsavory situation, such as a child being bullied and that’s the primary solution an adult can summon up, I worry. Why not give this kid some coping skills, or help them with dealing with a hard situation. There are MANY poor solutions that create a bigger target for the child, like obvious protected status. This is a precarious and difficult situation for the child. Use caution and pay attention.  There are a few other things I have heard back in my youthful days that swept child bullying under the rug:

  1. Boys will be boys.
  2. Sticks and stones…
  3. “if he’s mean to you and teases you, that means he really likes you”

From experience, I can tell you straight away that these little cutesy phrases are not helpful in the moment. I am not convinced  that violence is the answer either. Believe me, there were many times I wished I knew how to fight. I  wanted those kids bloody, vulnerable and asking of mercy at recess; fantasies of revenge and actual violence really don’t answer the problem either. So what do you do? You grow up and you take it. You take it every single day. You stop crying because your feelings were hurt.You stopped crying a long time ago. You may even start believing what they say. That happened to me. I can only speak of myself. I absolutely do not speak for other adults bullied as kids. I would love to hear from them!

Once high school began (new school, new people, new start), adolescence hit. People started to make fun of me and talk about me, but this time it’s behind my back. I know I was awkward. I didn’t know how to converse with others. I know I couldn’t really relate well to anyone.  I can imagine a great many reasons why they may have even made an effort and given up, because I may not have even recognized their effort(s). A singular sentence, a hello…. and I probably dismissed it because I didn’t even know how to respond.  My experience from 3rd to 8th grade left me little raw, I guess.  At least, in high school,  they were trying to not make me feel like nothing in front of my face, for the most part. Behind my back is much better. Right? Yeah, I am not sure either. I heard about the behind-my-back talking from only one person; who knows it if is even true. So I made a plan for college. I would CHANGE me.

College started in the mid 80s for me.  I never did get to develop those social skills to make it through sorority rush, but by then,  I really didn’t care. I met lots of cool independent students and a lot of fraternity brothers. The fraternity crowd  seemed to love to give freshmen girls (at barely 18,  I was still a girl) tons of attention and  a selection of 20 flavored schnapps.  That is a whole other issue, I will address at some point soon. The social experiment  during my four-year undergrad degree could take up tons of space on this blog site!  It was a million years ago, or at least close to 30 years ago when I started that journey. I became stronger and I developed a personality; I had a bit of adjustment issues there, but I developed a bit more of my identity.  Isn’t that what the college years were for? I learned to laugh, assert myself, have fun, and smile. I learned to make some really good friends. And I was lucky to have them.

Today, I am looking back and thinking.  WTF happened? Did the childhood bullying decrease my self-esteem and increase my tolerance for emotional abuse to the extent that I tolerated it from my ex-husband? Can I stop the level of inappropriate anger aimed at me simply by walking away? Already, I have stopped tons of inappropriate behavior from so many people who want stupid sexy stuff and sexy talk on dating sites or at bars. I tell them that’s not appropriate and I kick them to the curb. That’s easy. The bullying was done in school when no one liked me and it was very unpopular to openly admit you were really friends with me or hang out with me outside of school. So its harder sometimes to recognize a similar brand of emotional abuse coming from the very people who tell me they really like me or even falling in love with me. If they loved me, they couldn’t possibly be treating me badly?

 

So I ask:

I am not so sure. I just don’t know anymore. What do you think? Is the long-term bullying effect possible? Even in very subtle undertones? You never know until you are sitting there feeling rejected like you did in third grade.

By the way:

This bullying subject is not likely to go away for me. It’s a concern I have for kids today that suffer from a different type of insidious bullying: Cyberbullying.  I will address this in the future.

My blog is about relationships. Any kind. I have been focusing a lot lately on the romantic one I was in ( but no more!), but its important that we consider all different relationships to figure out the best harmony and balance for ourselves.

 

Sabotage in 26 minutes

And just when everything was going so well. I had a great night Thursday with him. We really solidified our connection. It was so good. And yet.

So last night, I was waiting for  a text from him. I got it; then he sent me a text. It seemed open-ended. When I asked for clarification within a minute of his text, I got no response. So I texted again. Odd, since he just texted. I should have said “have fun with your friend; see you tomorrow”.. But no. That would be easy. I became anxious and freaked out for a reason I can not yet elucidate. I had a crappy day, ending ironically with a mechanical malfunction in the bathroom. Yes, a crappy day indeed.TMI maybe? So, I started to lose control of my good judgement as I was desperate to know what day he was meeting his friend. How was I to know he was suddenly unavailable to talk or text right after he sent  a text that did not indicate in any way, shape or form that he would be immediately unavailable. But why oh why did I feel the need to text and call a freakish amount in 26 minutes? He finally called and completely went off on me…..I couldn’t say I blamed him. I asked him to give me a little slack.  He  just so pissed off and irritated (his words) and was on the verge of blocking me. I told him in light of other behavior by both of us, to NOT cancel our plans for Saturday (today). He said “okay”, but who knows if he was simply trying to placate me?  I asked him to just let me know tomorrow when he will be able to come over and wished him a good night when he finally stopped going ballistic about my freakish quantity of calls and texts.

Needless to say, I got off the phone and was fairly hysterical, and realized this whole thing was a crazy anxiety attack of some sort. While he stressed that I didn’t have an emergency, I felt like my shitty day was my own emergency and I was hoping to just get some compassion. I could have just waited a day and told him all about it. I have never had anxiety that caused me to sabotage something so completely in a downward spiral at warp speed.  After an equally long conversation with my dear friend, I was able to calm down and relax. A little. Why did I create such a massive production for NO reason at all?  She ordered me to put in a movie, do not drink anything (alcoholic) and calm down. I did all those things, except the movie thing. I knew I couldn’t focus on anything really.

So I decided the best thing was sleep. I woke up this morning, pleased to find that I actually did sleep. I realized I was heartbroken. When he ended things  a few weeks ago, I was sad and upset, but I feel so much more invested now. Because of what he has said. Because of how I have been feeling. Everything. I am crushed. I am not going to text or call him right now. He will need to contact me. The sleep gave me that unknown sense of clarity one needs to act more appropriately. To not act impulsively. Like last night. What a nightmare!  I will, however, take the time to defend myself right now and reflect on the fact that I don’t think my behavior warranted his level of anger. I was disruptive, unknowingly. Yes, I was. I was perhaps inconsiderate as he was clearly unavailable. But had I done anything mean, manipulative, dishonest, harmful? No.

Question to the masses:

I am beginning to wonder if I am being overly sensitive and should understand where he is coming from….or should I stand up for myself and stand by my actions, inconvenient, but not harmful or mean/manipulative. Was his reaction warranted, and if so, I can live with my sabotaging behavior. Should I stand by and know that I didn’t intend to cause harm (and I really did not cause any harm)?

I leave you with this: My theme for today is the Import LP: Walking Wounded by Everything But The Girl. Pretty much every song would be a fine choice. Portishead is another choice.

Have a good weekend!

Remembering me?

So I had a great walk with a male  friend I have known for over a decade. We talked about our current relationships, both of which were initiated on the internet. Both of our relationships are flourishing. They are so different though. It is amazing to get a reminder from the people we know well to remember ourselves and our needs. I must tell you, because it may matter to some of you, but my friend and I have been platonic from the get go. Nothing, no hook up, no kiss, no first date. Never happened. He’s just more like a slightly older brother who will talk to me real like and give me the hard truth.

I tell him about some of the things my guy told me in the beginning and things I learned about what to talk about and not talk about (he didn’t tell me, he just reported what went well and not so well in past relationships where his kids were concerned–I just took note). My friend had to remind me “but you do love your dog and love to talk about him? Are you changing who you are and what you talk about  because of him?”. He was being kind, not harsh. My friend knows me. For over ten years. New guy has known me for maybe ten dates.  I told my friend, as I truly believed it yesterday, that it is not a big deal…I can go slow and be careful of what I talk about with he kids. I barely talk to them anyway, because one of them feels I am overbearing when I barrage her with questions. I can’t even think of a double barreled interrogation at this time, but whatever. Now its just “hi” or “can you pass the parmesan cheese”…minimal.  I take the lead from him. My friend reminds to be my own person.  We need friends like this.  And of course, I tell him my truths and perceptions about this relationships.  Because that’s the kind of friendship we have.

 

Remember YOU in the relationship. What do you need? Who are you? I posted last time about considering the other person’s feelings. For sure. We definitely need to learn and remember that. But never lose yourself in the process. Never.

 

I would love to hear from all of you about your experience navigating a new relationship (even and especially if you are married or still with them now), learning more about yourself and what happened when you temporarily forgot YOU? And if you can straighten out my whole language conundrum between Like & Love in French. That would be cool too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relationships are hard

I sit here. I am trying to put together the last 7 days and just don’t know what to say.  The last two weeks were so dramatically different. My relationship is experiencing growing pains. For equality’s sake, should I really be saying “our relationship”? Probably.  I feel that the “hiccup” (his word) in our relationship last weekend shows me that we both need to learn about thinking about the feelings of the other person. I learned  to be aware of personal and emotional space. Give  certain people room with out barraging them with questions or in-your-face-closeness. Maybe this will work with the young, the shy, the introverted… I learned to stand up for myself and know that I am okay with him or by myself.All by myself. I can want him, but I don’t need him to feel complete. These seem to be the lessons I keep needing to learn. I hate that. So frustrating. Fuck.  I would be lying though if I felt that I could just recover in an hour as I confidently posted last week. I felt like I did when I posted last week; I was being as truthful as I could have been back then. 7 long days ago.  When he texted me an  apology on Sunday, I realized how much I liked him. Is there some language that has a word between like and love? I have been learning French  this year and when the cool app tells me to translate “j’aime”, I say “I love” and it tells me that it means “I like”, but then later I am asked to translate “I love” and I clearly am stumped now; the answer is “j’aime”. What?? How can the French so casually intermix the two. Way too confusing. When I go to Paris, I am certainly going to investigate this.  But I digress.

Then Tuesday,  I saw him and shared  about this on a post on November 2. I know that I felt the same as he did when he shared his sentiments. I was a wimp and couldn’t say it back. For one, I was scared of the same thing happening and getting blindsided again, in any near future. Secondly, I did not think it would mean as much if it was just parroted back. Depending on what happens in a few days (our next date is Tuesday), I want to share with him today. This is a huge risk. I am so scared. I haven’t felt this way since my ex-husband. Yeah, and we know how that turned out. I am sure I have said that before, perhaps. It bears saying again, because its been a long assed six years. It was this time six years ago, I came back from Florida with nothing. I  rebuilt my life. Slowly. And now this. This reminds me that things worth having are hard. Relationships are hard. I don’t want to sabotage this. I can only pray he doesn’t want to either.

This weekend is the seven day reminder of hime ending things for a 24 hour period (what he calls the hiccup). Tuesday, he assured me that we should not be starting over as we have gotten this far. At that point, we were together a month and two days.  Assuring me that  he does, in fact, want me to be a part of his life (with his kids). I want this too. I am terrified of getting my heart broken. It was almost there last week. I am not sure I can take it again. I think for sure I wouldn’t have another break up in me (with him). I doubt he knows this. In the spirit of positive thinking, I will not be mentioning this.  But with all my experiences, I am trying to be positive and hopeful, and end up  feeling all pragmatic and cynical . That sucks. I am so close to having a truly wonderful thing. I MUST NOT SABOTAGE.  I know anything could happen today. I realize that he could cancel our date today. He had a horrible crappy day Friday and Saturday, when I saw him, he was sick and who knows what he will feel like today.  So, I am fine with things not being perfect, I was a bit bummed to not hear fun nice things all day. But authentic relationships are like lie. We have bad days, we get sick, we feel sad (as I have this weekend with my memories that I posted yesterday). When he got off the phone with me so abruptly when  someone was knocking at his door Friday night, I felt this doom. I can not allow the negative feelings he had yesterday to be about me. Saturday was okay and nice to know that hopefully we can get through the imperfect awkward days (of one of of being sick or not feeling tip-top).  But this is really  hard to do when he ended things just 7 days ago.  This is the insecurity that absolutely SUCKS.  I am working towards holding the lessons learned to heart….So hard to do.

Slowly. I will learn to trust again. Trust him  to be strong and understand me  and trust myself to keep a calm and still heart.