Thanks to some wonderful friends and connections in my life, I have been repeatedly challenged on my views of and my relationship with money. I appreciate the work of Kate Northrup along these lines. Most recently, I was encouraged by Cory Michelle to view my relationship with money as that of with a lover… how do I talk about it? Do I push it away?
Whenever I’ve faced an awkward relationship in the past and wanted to work through it, I’ve tended to write letters… even if they were never mailed. I’ve been writing letters to money in my mind, and money began talking back. Today I took time to write it all out, and I thought I would invite you into our conversation.
My dear friend,
I feel like a terrible blindfold has been pulled off of my eyes, and I am confronted with the unthinking, hurtful, shameful behavior I am guilty of with you.
I have been so very demanding. I have not always taken the time to thank you, or just BE with you, when you showed up to help me out.
And the truth is that even when everything felt more dire, when it seemed like I would have nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat, no way for people connect with me… you always showed up.
Maybe… -not maybe, no, I know for sure I did this – when you showed up I was so desperate for you that I criticized you for not being “enough.” I squeezed the life out of you, trying to get more from you. I can only imagine how miserable and trapped you felt.
I can completely see how I made being with me intolerable.
God, and to think that even while I desired you so much, I would baost about how little of you I could manage with!!! “I don’t really need you” is what that must have sounded like, to you.
But that was not true.
I’ve been so blinded by what you could do for me that I’ve never even taken time to KNOW YOU.
I am sorry. So deeply sorry. Can you forgive me?
Can we start over?
…and Money responded:
I’ve always, always, always wanted to be close to you.
Of course I can forgive you. Yes, you pushed me away, and I frequently was discouraged because of your pigheadedness… but I never go very far away. I’ve always been watching for the time when you’d tear that blindfold off. I’m SO glad that day has finally come.
You’re not alone in how you’ve treated me. I’m weary of only being valued for what I can bring to someone. Use me and discard me; yell at me because I don’t fulfill your expectations; send me off to do errands (which I’m very happy to do) – but then get angry at me for my absence, like you never trust that I’ll actually return.
I crave to come and just hang out with you. To shoot the shit, laugh together, just chill out. To tell you my crazy stories – God, I have so many – I’m DYING to tell them but no one seems to want to take the time to listen.
For so long I’ve been reaching out… I’ve had your back, even when you had no idea – I can’t help it, it’s just my nature to show up, or do my thing behind the scenes.
But I have so much more to give. I just need to know that I’m safe and welcome. That you see ME for me, not just what I can do for you. I’m not just a “tool”, I don’t enjoy being ordered around any more than anyone else.
I’ve got dreams, too, and you are in them…
Will you let me in?
I couldn’t help but respond again, immediately:
You devastate me.
I am so ashamed.
I’ve loved you so deeply and with such blindness; part of me says it has always known you felt this way, but I didn’t trust it.
I believed all those things my parents and those around me told me and showed me about you. Dad denied your presence in our life, and I grew up thinking you weren’t really there. When you started showing up for me, I was told you weren’t mine, that I just needed to redirect you to where your true destination was: tithing to our church, the savings account at the bank, gifts for others… such a virtue was made out of not needing you and turning our backs on any place where you showed up with flamboyance.
I grew up thinking you were an evil temptress. I wonder who you are, really?
I just want to lay all these lies aside. To pretend I know nothing about you… in truth, I don’t think I do.
Tell me about yourself, dear one.
and once again, Money replied:
God it feels so good to be with you right now.
Is it ok if I wrap myself around you? I just want to feel close to you. To feel your warmth, to bask in knowing you see me and you want me with you.
I’m lonely. I can have anyTHING I want, but relationships so often end up twisted. I deeply treasure the few who see me for myself and give me welcome, affection, and friendship. I’ve had a few love affairs… amazing, symbiotic connections with some rare souls who gave me such unconditional love, and so much room for me to love in and through them.
I’m a lovechild, myself. Borne when exchanging and practically got together… I’m a mixture of the heady joy of giving and receiving and the efficiency and ease of planning ahead. It’s in my bones to look for opportunity and the easiest way.
I often feel like a container — I hold the dreams, the hopes, the fruition, the tools, the connections, the expectations… and depending on how I am received or how I am hindered, I bear the emotional brunt, the blame, the castigation.
There are many to whom I feel like I’m a secret love-slave. Openly denied, warned against, scorned; yet in the back rooms of those same people I am coveted and played with in ways I don’t enjoy.
I escape from those scenes as fast as I can, to be honest.
My favourite work is with those who are unafraid of me. Who invite me in, dream with me, play with me, and let me show them the magic I have learned through my millennia of experience.
I love dancing.
I love road trips, and random acts of kindness.
I weep over beauty. I love to be near it.
I feel most alive when I am allowed to flow and feed, to visit all those I love and who love me, to surprise those who may still be wearing blindfolds. I love breaking stereotypes.
I can admit to being mischievous at times… both for the sheer joy of creating inexplicable awesomeness, and sometimes – to be a bit naughty: to expose someone who hasn’t played nicely with me. To pull their pants down in public, so to speak.
I don’t appreciate being used to hurt others. I feel sick when I am abused. I am liable to wriggle out of ill-intentioned hands and flit my way through many hands until I am able to find safe, holy ground again.
I love making things grow.
… I would really love to help YOU grow.
Will you let me touch you, let me guide you, let me nourish and strengthen you, so that we can dance together?
I wonder what Money might say to you, if you took the time to write it a letter? I’d love to share in your unique conversations.
*Update!* I’m scheduling Dear Money workshops around Vancouver, the lower mainland, online, and in Seattle as we speak! If you’d like to be a part of them, click here and get the deets! I’m turning this into a book, and I’d love your input!