20 December 2012

money and fear

Recently, I asked myself the question, "Why is it that money can cause me more stress, and more terror, than almost anything else?"

It's a conundrum. We don't have a lot of money, and never have, and our lives are in flux right now, but we'll manage. Because we always do. In the past, when things have been really tight, we've always made it. Personally, I think it's that God always comes through, rather than us doing it on our own. I mean, seriously. I'm not an idiot with money, but I've never been brilliant with it, either. I hate dealing with bills and bank stuff. I really do. It kind of drives me nuts, and my personality type is of the kind that wants to avoid the things that make me nuts. Usually I try to buckle down and deal with it, despite wanting to stick my head in the sand. And yet...at the end of the day, we have a roof over our heads and we have food.

So what does all the stress and fear surrounding money mean for me? Is it a lack of trust? A lack of confidence in my and my husband's abilities to do what we need to do? A matter of wanting the wrong things when it comes to our finances? That is, wanting to be financially stable without doing that much to achieve it, or valuing money more than I value the things I say are more important?

I already know I'm more materialistic than I want to be. Ideally, stuff wouldn't matter all that much to me, and I'd able to be calm about dealing with money, rather than terrified. How much have I really bought into our culture's focus on materialism, despite my desire to be free of it? Why do I have so much stuff, and do I really need most of it?

These are questions I find myself asking a lot lately. I don't have too many solid answers, other than realizing that I need to figure out why I react so strongly when it comes to money problems (e.g., the bank screws something up, and I freak out about it, because it's so frustrating to get it fixed), and why this, of all things, triggers my conflict-avoidance tendencies. Conflicts with other people are so much easier to deal with somehow, and I've never known why. It's easier to deal with my fears about relationships than my fears about money. Why?

J.'s theory is that it's because money's harder to control in some ways. Unexpected things that cost money happen, and you don't have any authority over them. Car breaks down. Someone gets sick. Rent goes up. And that's terrifying. Fears about money add to the stress of something that's already difficult. True enough, but I wish I could control my reactions better. It'd certainly be easier to deal with things calmly (although since that's J.'s typical operating procedure, two of us being calm all the time might get boring).

Well, now I have a whole new list of things to talk to my counselor about. Yay!

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