My Trauma Over Money & The Road To Peace
Sharing inner journeys with the world comes with a price tag and the cost can be high. But I’m willing to pay that price if there’s just one person on the planet who feels better after reading this post. This is for you.
Money and I had a roller coaster of a ride and by middle-age it had left me with a list of symptoms suspiciously like PTSD. It sounds bizarre even as I write this, that simply seeing a bank would induce a physiological response I had no control over; My airway would begin to constrict, outside sounds became dull and distorted as the ringing in my ears became deafening, my palms would sweat, my heart would race like it was going to explode, then, I felt like my knees would give way and I might barf into my bag. I was embarrassed by my body’s response to these innocuous triggers and annoyed that I couldn’t seem to ‘talk myself down’ off the ledge, which, typically, I’m really good at. It was relentless, overwhelming and it was happening a few times a week.
So how the bleep did I end up in that state? It was cumulative, one experience after another. My life with money was extreme, from hand-to-mouth poverty, to living like royalty. In my thirties I found myself on the receiving end of a six-figure debt as a result of my partner’s gambling addiction. It was traumatic on many levels, not least of which was the overnight debt. But that trauma wasn’t the beginning of the unhealthy relationship I had created with money. In fact, as far back as I can remember, there was an undertow of fear and a feeling of anxious instability around money.
I desperately wanted to transform that relationship and set about figuring out how. I’ve broken it down into a list that will take you through my transformation process:
1. I gave myself permission to get help and admitted my symptoms were severe enough to warrant intervention. My inner “I am not a victim” voice still bristles at the word ‘trauma’, but that’s part of what I had to own
2. I researched therapists and healing modalities that helped people with trauma. The therapists I chose took me back into a series of memories – IT SUCKED! But, I eventually hit the motherlode of my beliefs about money (see below)
3. Going back into those memories gave me the opportunity to release the emotions and then transform them
4. I transformed the memories by: Writing to money, meditating (badly, but I did it), looking at my online banking regularly and lots of practical techniques I learned from trauma expert, Jane Clapp
The motherlode of my unhealthy relationship with money was a deep-seated, paralyzing belief, that at any moment the life I had created was going to blow-up. Everything that made me feel safe and secure was going to vanish. I had no power and no control over when and how it would happen. That belief had taken such deep roots that my body was responding with a mega-dose of fight-or-flight cortisol coursing through my body.
I’d be lying if I said I was ‘fixed’, I’m not, I have to make an effort every day. But I’m winning the war against my destructive beliefs and my most powerful weapon is self-compassion, self-love and understanding. Sound corny? It is. But it’s also the cornerstone of healing.
I encourage you, if it feels right, to look at your relationship with money and if it needs a little TLC, give it some. If you found this helpful and feel in a sharing kinda mood, leave a comment, because I believe we all feel better when we share and feel connected.
Here’s an inspirational video from therapist Marissa Peer that helped me along the way:
Marissa Peer – I Am Enough
Written by: Rachel Matthews Burton, Host of Tabella