So here we are, some of us barely financially afloat, if not drowning. We are all in the same ocean, floating around in different boats. Some treading water. Some keeping an even pace, but staring in the rear-view mirror full of worry when the motor will flood. But like driving a motorcycle or a boat, your body and the motorcycle (or boat) go where your eyes go. If you look back you FALL (or drown).
Most think right now, how do you look ahead when the current view is full darkness and uncertainty? Let’s talk real for a minute (okay two, we clearly know I can’t keep anything short (besides my height) …
I don’t think there isn’t anyone not financially impacted by the recent social crisis (es). Sure, if you were Marvelous Marvin the money saver, you had a couple months savings put away plus some for a rainy day or crisis. Seriously though, have you met our generation x/millennial economy! Most families are living on two incomes wishing they had a third. You know the saying, the more you make the more you spend. Just because you have a fancy job, unfortunately does not mean you have a fancy budget to support it. Right, “people should have planned better,” said the two people that did!
Reality is, there were financial challenges before the pandemic. And now money is so tight it is like trying to fit a size 0 skinny jean on an elephant!
That is my story anyway. Since the pandemic I have gotten a crash course on finances and economics (FYI, I had to drop an economics class in college because I was literally going to get a D!). Now, fight or flight mode has set in and my interest in financials have revved up like screaming eagle pipes on a Harley Davidson (2nd motorcycle reference. Yes, I rode a Harley for 6 years!!). Before this, I swore my brain did not calculate numbers as I was intimidated to understand economical products and concepts. Dah, I picked being a psychologist to be a healer, not a business person. But, you know a girl has to eat and pay her bills, so….My practice, my business suffered as a result of the pandemic. I justified and glorified the time that became available to stay home with my kids. I wrote about how grateful I was for the opportunity and how I always wanted to stay at home with them and this pushed the envelope and gave me permission. Yes, all that is true along with the envelope got sticky and reality hit. We are a dual income family and my $denaro$ mattered. I felt embarrassment, guilt, and shame to discuss it.
Others are so worse off I would say. I am ashamed I did not save better. I should try conventional (boring) ways to build my practice. I should get on insurance boards and sell my soul to the insurance devils. I mommy-task all the time, I should figure out how to do sessions, homeschool, and everything else simultaneously. Blah, blah, blah.
I was elbow deep in shoulding and became paralyzed. Literally couldn’t open my mouth (me speechless!) to even discuss it with anyone, especially my husband. If I did not talk about it, it was not a problem, it was not real, and then I did not have to put my big girl panties on to do something about it. For a while I didn’t. Then, I tried to talk about it. I was so shame filled and angry with myself that when I did, I sounded like WIFEzilla which turned into MOMzilla leaving me feeling bad and even more guilty so then I did less.
I felt pressure and anxiety I had never felt. I secretly tried to complete an unemployment application that took 14 hours… yes, 14 hours. Every time I stared at the computer getting kicked out and tried to complete it, my pits sweated, my stomach turned, and I swear the screen got blurry. Like most Americans, I tried, repeatedly. I was declined, denied, and told I was ineligible to only make my shame meter go off the charts. It was like the screen screamed out with a big honking-buzzing type noise, “EEEEE, BIG LOSER!”
I was obsessed with reading articles and trying to “get” the system. I felt fired up to try and understand how others may feel in this “system”. I am not being dramatic, okay maybe a little. Filing for unemployment and financial hardship is traumatic. It preys on all your past financial insecurities. It flares up all your vigilance of purpose while tearing down all pieces of self-worth and value.
The idea of filing for a PPP loan or doing anything other than what felt like survival was so overwhelming. I could not wrap my mind on it. Until, I did. I met my next obsession- a government forgivable unforgivable of myself loan (AKA the Paycheck Protection Program that by the way did not protect my paychecks). With all the energy exerted, I could have built 2 brand-new practices!
What I know- somewhere in that money yuck, guck, stuck, F*uck, I felt like I was run over by a truck, I found my luck. I found a sense of empowerment in me. I do not have to settle for financial insecurity or thinking I am not smart enough to manage money. Financial PTSD does exist. Financial anxiety is realer than real. And we all get stuck. Usually the stuckness is of getting around our own ass, but we get stuck.
Scientific (or Daratific) Formula for Money gunk Build- Up:
Money blue prints from when we were kids. Messages: this is too expensive, we don’t have money for that, you have to earn this, only rich people deserve it, you have to earn your keep or pay your time, your family arguing about money, money equates to happiness, or being rich means you have no problems
The level of financial stress (debt, unsteady income, income deficit) prior a traumatic event (i.e. job loss, death, natural disaster, A PANDEMIC)
= FINANCIAL PTSD
(physiological or emotional responses to perceived financial threat)
What are the messages you heard that gave meaning to finances? What is your money blue print? What was your level of financial stress before the pandemic?
Let’s clear a few myths: You are not alone. You are not the only one to let your finances get crappy. You are not the first person to be embarrassed. You couldn’t have done anything any different than exactly the way it is. You don’t have to suffer because it is “your fault”. You are not a bad person. You don’t deserve to be miserable. And yes, financial anxiety is the biggest stressor of relationships and causes the most stress related health problems. Don’t let your financial health literally cause money gut rot!
Reach out for financial advisement and ASK FOR HELP. Just say NO to $💰shame and $💰PTSD!
Your no bull-shiFt, mental fitness advising, non-financial expert giving Mom, Psychologist Dara