What is it with me that I remember something so shameful and painful and then want to write about it? I just recently had a triggering event. That sounds so dumb, but I really talk like that. I think of one of my younger, previous clients. She would probably want to roll her eyes at me and I’d want to tell her: ‘I really talk and think like this!’ Triggering event: I call it getting zinged. Or you could say getting walloped. And then you spiral down inside yourself and want to disappear. It always hits on these primary wounds, the things that follow us around and we seem to overreact to all our lives. I have several. This last one was a combination of money = value (I don’t have enough, so I’m worth less) and … you know what? That pretty much covers it. All the other reactions came from some version of that this time.
And I want to write about it to get it off me. To try and liberate myself from it. I’m tired of feeling embarrassed about these things.
My earliest memory of feeling shame about not having enough money was in middle school, I believe. I remember the memory very clearly but not certain my exact age. I was sitting up in the bleachers at the high school stadium. Evan Baker walked in with an Oklahoma State sweatshirt and matching orange socks with her Cole Hans (!! I almost couldn’t remember the name. Ahh, yes. Cole Hans.). And something about this just broke me in the moment. A deflation happened. The thought was, ‘I will never look like that. I’m not stylish like that. I don’t have the right stuff. We don’t have enough money for that. I’m am worth nothing’. Pretty devastating right? Don’t worry, I take care of her later, or try to. And my dad was sitting there next to me but I felt utterly alone and like I shriveled up or froze inside myself. And that frozen piece has never fully healed up til today. Believe me I’ve worked at it. Years of therapy, Al-Anon, and most recently DA 12 steps. I got to some money stuff in that process I never had before. But that memory and several others are still quite crisp and frozen in time and I can revisit them with no problem. I’ve learned that means that they are not healed and a part of me is still right there in that moment; stuck like a broken record. On top of all of that I felt like the message I got from my family was to cover it with false confidence. Let everyone know, “We don’t need more money. We are superior in how we live. Money brings less virtue. So we are more virtuous. Even though we might have to suffer; it makes us better”. No one said these things explicitly, of course, but this was how I experienced it.
I realize right now that that then led me on a course to conquer this by making Evan my friend. That anyone that felt superior to me, I just needed to make them my friend to feel better. Even if I felt unwanted, that almost didn’t register. It did register and did profound damage to me but I had no other way to solve it. Maybe, didn’t matter is the better phrase. Be amongst the popular crowd, even if I forced my way in and then I will belong. Uggggghhhh. There was such damage done to my teenage self in this process! That’s why she looked so ragged and ill when I found her! This vulnerable part of her was just torn to shreds. I’m still putting the pieces together. I have fantasies of what my life would have been like if I could be me now, in high school. What would I have become?? I have a loose idea of a wish-fulfillment novel that would do just that. I would just have to play with time, right Anna?? I spent much of my high school and college years being around people that I felt tolerated me, to a degree, with me working really hard to earn their care or pretending that I didn’t notice. Uggggghhhh. Again, I almost didn’t know I was doing this. I definitely didn’t know how to do better at the time. I’m also thinking about most of my romantic relationships were this too. Aaaaaaahhhhh! I had a few of those where the guy liked me and was available, but they didn’t last long. It felt gross. Repellant to me.
I can have several memories burned in my mind when I think about being unwanted, yet striving for approval. They flash before my eyes right now as I write this. I can remember sleeping over at this girl Lisa’s house. She was a year older than me and a real bitch (she’s not really, its not her real nature I’m sure she’s a child of god, blah). A lot of the girls in this circle were just mean, exclusive, judgmental. And boy did that work on me. I tried to cover it on the outside: I’m unaffected, No one gets to me, I’m funny and clever, everyone likes me, right? She was best friends with Megan, who everyone loved. She was very sweet. I somehow made my way to Lisa’s house, probably shoved my way in. And I heard them talk about me while they thought (or didn’t care if) I was asleep. Something like, “Why is she here?” Giggle, giggle. Oh it just wrecked me. And to their credit, why was I there? Why the fuck was I trying to be a part of that?? Well, I know the answer but I’m trying to be incredulous. I did not belong but I didn’t know how to go belong with myself. I can only imagine if I would have hung around people that I was comfortable with. I probably would have been in theater! Or band! Goddamnnit.
I’m realizing now, as I get further into this piece of writing that the triggering event also included an authority figure. Its this weird combination of money, authority, power, trapped, frozen. For me. It will lead me to hide my head in the sand. For example, at our previous place owned by Vicki and Theresa (the horse property I posted pictures of), I just couldn’t believe that we would be able to stay there. I was certain that the bottom would drop out at any moment. And just like a little girl, my instinct was to plug my ears and close my eyes and hope that that would work. I was so afraid to finalize the plans with these women because I would hear a no. Or worse, “Hell no! Get off my property!” Or some kind of meanness or shaming. When this happens, I just become immobile and not my age.
The Good News: I’m coming through this event with so much valuable information. I write the end of this today in a much different place. I’m finally starting to feel the kind of plaque from those memories dislodge and break loose. I feel way more like an adult as those things come up. That I can go in like a Mother Hen and say, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, what is going on my darlings?’. And then start setting to making things right again. I feel so much less shame. I feel I’ve brought some air in to places that have maybe never seen the light of day? Whew! Feels good! I think a good dark night of the soul will do that for you: make you hurt so bad that you don’t give a shit anymore. And give you motivation to stop that pattern, kind of like, ‘Oh fuck that! It is not even worth it to care about this anymore! This is dumb!’ So I’m feeling some of that. Some freedom. As well as priorities re-affirmed.
If you read this and thought things or felt things or found yourself speaking to me outloud, let me know! Say it to me in REAL LIFE! Like in the comments or an email or a text. I love to hear your responses.