Money. It sounds like such a threatening word. And it is, most of the time. Anything that is used as a leveraging tool is bound to come with a sinister side. And there is never enough of it of course. How can something that makes life so much easier make life so hard at the same time? Money is the main thing couples argue over other than sex. How much, how it should be managed, and by whom. It has been known to destroy marriages, and lives. Maybe not the money itself, but they way it gets used, and misused.
Circumstances Change, and You Have Nothing to Lose
Sometimes I have been grateful to not have assets and draw a small income, if only because when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. But even those of us with very little money end up heavily debating who gets what when divorce comes into play. No matter how much I thought I cared very little about the numbers aspect of my marriage, when it came down to severing all ties with my spouse, money reared its ugly head as I went into survival mode. For me, it was about trying to get all I possibly could from my ex, because I knew that he had the potential to make all the money he would ever need in the future, while I saw myself struggling for years to come. I had never been the breadwinner in our family. I had never even had a good-paying job. I was good, very good even, at many things, but none of them would ever be anything that would make me or anyone else any money. I felt destined to be poor as a single woman.
People seem to fall easily into the mindset that because they don’t have much now, they never will. It is the same reasoning behind the idea that whatever your current situation is in life, it will always stay the same. But life is not like dam. It is a continuously changing ebb and flow, and the tides of our lives can bring us joy, sorrow, fear, hope, poverty, and wealth, and usually, all of these, intermittently. Even investment bankers have gone bankrupt, and waitresses have won the jackpot. Those are extremes, but the truth lies closer in the very real chance your circumstances will improve, gradually. The important thing, and what will lead to your long term happiness and well being, is to not dwell on what you don’t have now, or what you might not have in the future. You are alive in this present moment, and life is happening. Even though it may sound cheesy, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could be completely happy with what you have right now and want nothing more? I know it sounds like a long stretch, and easy to say. There are bills to pay. There is food to buy, and dentists and plumbers and tuition. I’ve been there.
Image Courtesy of Debbie Wilson
When I was newly separated, even though he had promised he would, my ex was not helping me at all financially. Fortunately, we had no children to pay for, but it was a struggle for me. I could barely pay the rent on the apartment we had shared, not even with three jobs, and of course I didn’t have health insurance. I couldn’t afford for even one thing to go wrong. I was living hand to mouth, with no hope that my future would ever be any better. I had always been good at my little skills, you see, like cooking, writing poems, gardening and wine expertise. I did pilates. I did the shopping. I suppose I had become a housewife without ever even noticing it. And housewives are important, but they don’t make money. When he decided after eight years that he was leaving, I was sad, but I also really needed to make some money.
Learning to Support Yourself from What You Know is Within You
Image Courtesy of HealthyWomen.Org
On my own, things changed. I had to finance myself, and I had to do it while living somewhere I couldn’t afford because I got stuck with the lease. But I made it happen. I took a job on a farm nearby and I learned skills I had never even considered before, like how to slaughter my own animals and butcher them. I’m not saying I would recommend this to anyone, but it is an example of a skill that empowers you. Maybe you learn a computer program and you practice everyday until you’re the best. Skills will help you financially, and make you feel better about yourself more than any amount of alimony ever could. Not that you shouldn’t get what you’re entitled to after all the time you devoted to your marriage, because that also counts. But for your soul, and who you are, what you earn in life can only come from that primal voice inside you. That voice may tell you to write a book, or plant trees, or build a house or a new high rise. Whatever it is, you’ve got it, and it will lead you to all freedoms, including financial freedom. I never wanted to be a chicken farmer. But I’m glad I followed my instinct to be near animals instead of the loud one of society that screamed at me to fight my ex for all he was worth because I would never be able to make something of myself without him. I may not have his potential stock holding shares or claim to fame. I will never travel with him again to Paris, Rome, or Tokyo. I would be lying if I said I don’t regret aspects of that. But what I would regret even more is not being able to rely on myself. I wake up in the morning and look past my soft olive green chair toward the blue sky above, and I feel peaceful in my bedroom. I feed my chickens, I go to the farm up the road to work on the weekends and I don’t resent the labor, because it lets me sleep peacefully at night. I don’t care anymore what I deserve or what I could have had, because after all this time, I finally learned that there is a valuable wisdom in money: don’t increase your gains, lessen your desires.