Day 19 - Sexy Money
On the intake form I created for this 93-day Metamorphize or Die program, I asked people if they had a savings account, and if they did, how much money they had in it. I knew many people might consider this question incredibly invasive, but everyone who filled out the form answered it.
Most people had no money in the savings account.
I have been worried about money since I was a child. My parents worried about money so I thought that was the thing to do. What if we run out of money, what then? Maybe if we had run out of money it would have been easier: the monster would have stepped out of the cave and I would have seen that if you run out of money it means there is no food in the refrigerator and you have to go to your grandparents’ house to eat. I would have seen that you can survive when the money runs out and that the fear was worse than the actual thing because we were in the lucky position of being surrounded by people who had plenty of money and who would have made sure we didn’t starve, but in my imagination, running out of money equaled no vision, nothing, just blackness, and how can you battle nothing?
There has never been enough money in my life. Money is my issue. It’s the thing I worry about. The thing that makes me feel terrible about myself: Oh, I’m so bad with money. I can’t be trusted with it. It just disappears. It’s the thing that makes me dread the future sometimes. It’s the thing that feels out of control and elusive and confusing. It’s the thing that makes me feel I can’t be trusted. I am no good with moneycan easily be truncated to I am no good.
And if you have issues with self-esteem or a lack of a strong sense of self, it can be tempting subconsciously to get in trouble financially over and over again so your view of your external life I am in so much trouble matches your view of your internal life I am in so much trouble. You can’t be rich and have no worries and feel like garbage inside. Well, you can, but it’s not going to be pretty. Something will be off kilter. You’ll have a beautiful wife who berates you or an eating disorder or problems with addiction. Your subconscious mind will do a find job of making sure your external life comes close to matching your internal belief set so there is balance.
One day Pam Cordano and I were talking on the phone and out of the blue she told me to hang up and write down my limiting beliefs and to call her back when I was finished. A few minutes later I sent a picture of my list. She called me back and said, Okay, read it to me. I read my limiting beliefs, all fifteen of them, and she kept saying, Cross it out, until I came to the one that said I do not deserve to be supported. That’s the only one Pam left standing.
That’s your key in, Pam said. And we’re going to address it now.
She asked me how much money I had in my savings account, and I told her I had none.
I told her that even though money is my number one source of anxiety and stress, I don’t like having it in the bank, and as soon as I have excess, I spend it, waste it, or give it away. There are two things my nervous system can’t seem to tolerate: not having money and having money.
Have you watched Paul Sunderland’s video on money, debt, and addiction? If not, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es6FZmWtYFg. I’m not going to bother summarizing it, because it’s so good, I’ll let him speak for himself. I cried the first time I watched it because I could not believe that information was out there and I hadn’t known. If my parents had had this information when I was a child, they might have had tools to deal with my growing strange relationship with money. They would have spotted what was happening and why. As it was, my relationship with money ended up costing them god knows how much. And my ex-husbands.
I thought my love language was money. I’m not sure how I learned this, but I think it had to do with not getting what I needed from people, starting with my busy mom, and looking for love another way—getting money from the person so I could buy things that made me feel valuable. (The irony was, of course, that this never worked and more often than not I’d give whatever I had bought to someone else because it didn’t have much value to me or I didn’t think I deserved it.)
As Pam pointed out, by putting a financial value on a relationship, I was effectively avoiding intimacy. It’s like, Okay, I know you can’t love me enough, so give me $100. What if I dropped the money part and went for the love. If I think someone can’t love me enough and I want money from them, that’s possibly an indicator that I’m choosing people who don’t meet fundamental needs and trying to squeeze some kind of love from what essentially is a stone is not very rewarding.
Am I worth loving?
When you are adopted and you have a piece of paper in your file that says how much your parents paid for you, future issues with money are not surprising.
It’s a way to live in a state of perpetual wanting; it’s a way to always feel not enough, to feel life does not have your back.
When you hear your parents frequently arguing about money, and you know that you cost your parents money and that you are still costing them money, this can lead to confusion: the wish, perhaps, to disappear so you don’t cause any more problems. Anger because you are your parents’ child and it’s their job (isn’t it??) to support you. Fear because maybe you are not safe. Anxiety because it’s a situation you feel you have no control over.
The other day, I was visiting my friend, and I noticed that their fish was hovering on the bottom of the small tank. I tapped on the glass but he did not move. I thought fish floated to the top when they were dead, so I wasn’t sure what was happening. It turns out my friend had just changed the water in the tank, and later, when she did some research, she found out she was supposed to have saved 20% of the old water so the fish would not go into shock and die when put into the cleaned tank. The fish did die, and they have a new fish now.
I think when people are adopted or moved from foster home to foster home or put into incubators as babies (etc. etc. etc.) they are generally moved from one fish tank to the next without the stabilizing 20% of water from the first home carried over. I think the child basically goes into shock, like the fish on the bottom of the tank, and although to the outside world the child and later the adult may look fully functioning, there will be tell-tale signs of unaddressed trauma, and money issues, I believe, are one of them.
Feeling anxious about money can recreate feelings in the body of danger that replicate going from one world to another without proper transition. The body gets to live with familiar buzzing of I am in trouble. This is bad. I am bad.
When I was talking to Pam on the phone, she asked me if I had a piggy bank, and when I told her no, she said, I want you to put an imaginary one inside you. Pam is one of the most creative, smartest people I know, so when she tells me to put a piggy bank inside of me, I don’t blink. I put it in my heartspace. Lower, she said. I put it in my stomach. Lower, she said. What? I said.You want me to put it by my…
Yes, she said. This is root chakra stuff.
I had a ceramic Mexican piggy bank resting on my pelvic floor. I stood up so I could really feel what it was like to carry a piggy bank in my body.
Reader, it felt good.
My abdomen has never been my favorite body part. It was generally more a source of discomfort than pleasure, but, and it was like the piggy bank was blooming inside of me. I felt warm and alive and stimulated.
My dear, sweet abdomen was suddenly a source of such deep pleasure after a lifetime of storing either tension, anxiety, or bloat.
Every time you earn money, I want you to put 10% in the piggy bank, Pam said. I want you to put it into an account you can’t touch. Give it to someone safe if you have to. It will always be money you won’t touch. You can move it around, put it in different accounts, but you will always have that money.
Have you ever heard of the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment? It was a way to test if one’s ability to endure delayed gratification as a child could serve as an indicator for how successful they would be in life in general. You’ll notice I used the word endure. I would have had those marshmallows shoved in my cheeks before the test giver had closed the door.
So I wasn’t sure I would actually do what Pam was suggesting. I wasn’t sure I would just let money lie there.
And guess what?
I did and I didn’t.
I have been putting 10% of my earnings in my savings account. I did pull it all out once when I needed it, but, guess what again. I put it back a few days later.
So guess what a third time.
I have money in my piggy bank.
Enough so I don’t have to actively worry about running out of money in the short run because I have enough.
Did you just hear what I said? I have enough.
Granted, I am a long way from financially solvent, but the fact that I can keep even a little bit lying around without getting rid of it is a flipping miracle.
So now I will teach you my piggy bank meditation. It’s how I touch my money without spending it.
Do you see the picture of the purple crystal that introduces this post? Get something like that. Something you think is beautiful. Something with weight to it. You can do this seated or lying down. I love to lie down when I meditate, so I’ll lie down and I’ll put this crystal on my lower abdomen, right about where my piggy bank is inside of me.
I close my eyes and I imagine that the crystal replaces the piggy bank, so I now have a beautiful treasure inside of my body. (You could do this whole thing and just picture the piggy bank, that could be the beautiful treasure, but since I didn’t have an actual piggy bank hanging around, and I wanted the weight of it on my body, I chose something in my house I thought was gorgeous and valuable.)
In craniosacral work, you learn about the long tide. It’s an energetic way of being we carry in our bodies that is similar to the bottom of the ocean floor: still, peaceful, unaffected by the outer world’s weather patterns. In this meditation, I imagine I am the ocean floor, and that my breath comes in through my nose and sweeps slowly to the treasure in my abdomen where the breath, for a moment, is completely at home, and the feeling is so sweet it nearly hurts, like the taste of your own blood or a hand on your back when you are on the edge of collapse. This feeling is available to you at any time. You are creating it now, but it is always there. This feeling of being so at home in your body, this feeling of loving and respecting the treasures you carry.
This is better than money.
This is home.
Want to know something amazing?
I don’t have an issue any more. I don’t worry about money. I just don’t. Thoughts occur to me: You can’t afford your own place. You don’t have health insurance. What if you get sick and can’t work for a week? but they don’t hit a nerve—they are like little waves against stone. Before, the reward for letting the negative thought hook my brain was that I got to feel anxiety—I got to feel like I was home, but I’ve recognized that was a false sense of home so now I have an option when negative thoughts come up: do I want to feel bad or do I want to feel good? And, finally, good feels like a safe option.
Do you know how much space that frees up in my being all the way down to the cellular level? My body is learning to breathe because it’s not waiting for the next anxiety wave to topple feelings of security and well-being. My days feel different—more fluid. Why don’t they teach this stuff in school? I would have been so much better off if I’d learned to manage anxiety instead of, well, really, instead of anything. Knowing formulas and history and facts is not all that helpful if your mind is playing fingernails down a chalkboard while you make your way through your life.
By the way, I also recently set up an investment account with a handful of dollars just so I could say I have one. I used Betterment, which you can access as an app on your phone and make a one-time deposit or have regular withdrawals taken from your checking account. I have a little taken out each week, and it’s fun to watch the funds go up (by pennies—I’m still living frugally) or down depending on the stock market.
The piggy bank anchors me to me, anchors me to the world. It makes me move differently. It makes me more aware of my body in space. My abdomen is vital and alive because I've been following Dr. Mark's food plan and am no longer causing myself digestive distress and because I am feeding it with a sense of security, safety, and the sense that anything's possible because I have some money in the pot.
Who knew saving money could be so sexy?
See you tomorrow.