I’ve been stressed about money before but its always been a perception not a reality. Reality right now for me and my family is that we’ve been dealing with money issues. Real ones and it’s triggering my scarcity mentality that lurks in the shadows which is a result of my childhood trauma.
As a kid I watched my father lose all of our money and then the house that we lived in. As a result I went to live with my best friends family because my father couldn’t afford to take care of me anymore.
When that part of me gets triggered it’s hard to contain my fears. This past holiday season, specifically the first Saturday night in December, is a prime example.
The quick back story is that a year ago I quit my job to be a stay at home dad. Then in May my wife quit her job to start her own company. She’s doing an amazing job but our income level isn’t quite where we need it to be so we’ve had to dip into our savings account each month to help pay our bills.
At first I thought nothing of it but as I watched our savings account go backwards each month my childhood scarcity mentality slowly crept in. And that’s what happened to me that first Saturday night in December.
My wife and I were having a wonderful evening decorating our christmas tree when all of the sudden I said “we need to have a finance meeting because things are looking dire”. My fear of money came bursting out of me like water out of a broken dam.
The night was ruined. I didn’t mean to ruin it but I did. This was deep routed unconscious behavior.
My therapist asked me what I needed in that moment and I told him that I needed my wife to feel my urgency about our money issue. “Why” he asked. “Because we’re on a sinking ship and if she feels the same urgency that I feel then maybe we can get out of the hole that we’re in” I told him.
My therapist looked at me and said “so you wanted her to jump onto your sinking ship and fix it.” Argh. I hate it when he’s right.
My therapist said he thinks I didn’t know what I needed in that moment. He said in that moment I needed connection and regulation and I didn’t know how to ask for it nor how to give it to myself.
We talk about that in our sessions. About how relationships are regulating and sometimes deregulating. Specifically, in that moment I needed to feel connected and safe. I needed regulation. That’s something I didn’t get as a kid.
What if I could’ve recognized that I was stressed and asked for help? Not the kind of help where I vomit all over my wife and she rights the ship for me. I’m taking about something much healthier.
What if I had said “hey sweetie this is really nice and I want this to be a special night but this is a really scary time for me right now. Can you please remind me that everything is going to be okay?”
That’s a much healthier way of going about things. It’s less about my wife having to take care of my needs and more about just being able to be there for me as I've been there for her in past. Then we could go on with our night decorating the tree and enjoying each others company. Unfortunately I didn’t do that. I’m sorry I messed that up, my love.
When my daughter is stressed out and crying I pick her up and remind her that everything is okay. We forget that we need this as adults. We are wired for connection and that means that sometimes we need to be interdependent with one another. Remember, there is value in vulnerability.
Have a great day!