Oh No! I Have to Deal with Money Again – and Again and Again and Again

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It’s really hard for me to do anything related to money. I guess it is getting easier because I no longer have full-fledged panic attacks but it still makes my stomach churn and tempts me to procrastinate for a year or two. Although I know I have to do certain things each month, I forget how to do a lot of them and have to figure it out all over again.

I wish I never had to deal with money, like the Queen of England. She doesn’t carry any, ever. What a lucky duck! But perhaps she feels inadequate because she doesn’t know how to buy eggs or veggies or take a taxi. If so, I hope she has come to terms with her neurotic attitude toward money in the last seventy years. I know I haven’t by any means.

One of the major reasons I have such trouble is that my cult role was supposed to be managing the group’s finances. From an early age I was taught each of the functions of a well-run office and later I was taught to supervise others, to be an office manager. It’s not very glamorous but it’s important. Somebody has to do the grunt work and keep things running smoothly.

In a cult, nobody can do anything right, of course, which engenders tremendous anxiety. If there was no animal for a sacrifice, if the books didn’t balance, if somebody got short changed, there was hell to pay. Every now and then I was rewarded, which kept me doggedly pushing through the anxiety, hoping they would notice what a good job I was doing.

I was used in child porn, but I didn’t realize right away that people were getting paid for my performances. I remember my father showing me a thousand dollar bill (in the late forties!) and telling me to look at it closely, as I would never see another one. For once, he was right. Earning money this way, even if it went to others, made money seem shameful and dirty, something I wanted nothing to do with. There’s no pleasure in paying bills or buying something nice for myself with that attitude.

Another thing that influenced me profoundly was that I was taught that I could not take care of myself, and that I would always need my parents to support me and the cult to guide me. So there is a strange mixture of feeling both competent and incompetent. I was a great office manager, but I could only use it in service of the cult. I was not given the opportunity to work, and my very first job, baby sitting, was in my twenties, when I was three thousand miles away from my parents. A couple of times in college I lined something up and then cancelled at the last minute.

They didn’t mind if I worked, they just minded terribly if I worked for money. This explains all the volunteering I do. I get challenged and I get the pleasure of doing something well, but I don’t get a dime. It’s nice being retired now, knowing that I have a reason for not having a job that is acceptable both to society and to myself

Well, obviously, I managed despite all this. My husband did well and there were a few years when I actually supported myself. For a while, my paid job actually entailed keeping the company books. I used what they taught me for good, and, if they knew, I bet they were pissed. Their problem, not mine.

So here I am after all these years, still dreading paying the bills. Still scared to learn my credit rating. Scared of the checkbook, even though I decorated it with puffy animal stickers, still scared of envelops and stamps, still scared of the post office box. Still terrified of doing my taxes. But most important, still acting responsibly, paying my bills, month after month, still handling money almost every week for gas and groceries and other things.

And that’s reason to stand tall.


Upcoming Holidays

7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Full Moon
8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/26 Full moon
9/3 Labor Day
9/5 – 9/7 Marriage to the Beast (Satan)
9/7 Feast of the Beast
9/22 Fall Equinox

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
9/1 N Start of WW2
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)

Money Woes

I only know a very few ritual abuse survivors who don’t have problems with money. How they manage to have a healthy relationship with it, I have no idea.

There are about sixteen different reasons why I have messed up ideas about money. Probably the factor with the most profound influence is low self-esteem. I don’t think I’m worth very much; if I had been worth something, I would have been treated well by my parents. So therefore I’m not worth spending money on. (I know that doesn’t really make sense, but it seems to make sense to me.)

In the supermarket, I look for marked-down items. I don’t buy clothes if they aren’t on sale. Actually, I prefer to buy them at thrift stores, especially if they are on sale. I used to mend my socks and underwear, but I have gotten lazy in my old age. Now I just wear them with holes.

While I’m stingy with myself, I’m pretty generous with other people. Since others are worth more than I am, they would obviously make better use of money and things than I do. They get the cupcake with the most icing every time because they deserve it, while I barely deserve the air I breathe.

This attitude is reinforced by guilt from watching others get hurt by the cult and not being able to help them. Now, in an effort to re-enact that scenario and make a happy ending, I have the urge to help others almost compulsively. It’s usually not good for me and usually not good for the people I’m trying to help, who, after all, are perfectly competent grown-ups, not little kids being tortured by a cult.

Finances make me very anxious. I was taught that I would not be able to support myself as an adult and that I would always have to be dependent on the cult.  I never worked as a kid, not even baby sitting or pulling weeds. I didn’t have my first job until I was twenty!

Believing, deep down, that I never will be able to support myself has made me worry inordinately that I won’t ever have enough. At the same time, I feel money is nasty and dirty and I don’t want any part of it. I think anybody who has been prostituted as a child or has been used in pornography views money very, very negatively.

(Actually, money in itself has no moral value. It’s just a tool. It can be used for good purposes or bad purposes or just so-so purposes. It’s up to us to use it differently than those that abused us.)

Since I’m so anxious, I have a real hard time keeping track of things. How much is in the bank? What bills are due? Overdue? How much interest does the credit card company charge? All these practical things swim through my mind like fuzzy out-of-focus jellyfish. Now you see them, now you don’t. Each time I sit down to sort things out, I have to start from scratch because I just can’t retain anything.

Then there are survivors whose alters all think they can buy things. Each purchase is reasonable, but when you have twenty or thirty inner people spending a couple of dollars here and there, it sure can add up. Many of them are child parts, and don’t understand budgets or deferred gratification. Sometimes one alter will hide cash to prevent another from spending it, and then not let on where it is.  Or forget where it is. Cooperation, while leading to less chaos over the long haul, is bound to mean short-term deprivation.

Money can be used self-destructively, as anybody with several maxed out credit cards can tell you. Stealing is another self-destructive way to try and make up for childhood deprivation. How many of us have shoplifted, not because we needed something or wanted to fence it, but just to flirt with getting caught and punished? How many of us have done this as adults?

I have. I didn’t do it to get caught; I did it because I thought that was the only way I could get things I wanted. As a kid, I thought I didn’t have the money to buy those things and I knew better than to ask my parents to get them for me. Whenever I let on I wanted something, they made it a point not to let me have it. I stopped shoplifting in my twenties (hmm, that was right after I had my first real job.) I occasionally get tempted even today.

Lately, I’ve been trying to change my attitude. It’s not helpful to tell myself I am a mess and will never get it right. Far better to think, “Wow! With all I have going against me, look what I just did!” Each time I react with pride at my accomplishment it’s a little easier to do it the next time, whether it’s calculating taxes or buying a nice tomato. And I each time I react with pride I kick a little hole in my negative self-image. With this attitude, there’s no reason to procrastinate – I’ll just catch up on the bills and feel great.

Although I admit that’s easier said than done.