February 17, 2009

Blog Share post

The following post was written as part of Blog Share, created by -R-. Blog Share gives everyone a chance to publish something they want to get off their chest, but might not want their public to know. My anonymous guest blogger wrote something that struck a chord with me, because I was once in a similar position. I hope you enjoy it, and please leave my anonymous friend some supportive comment love.

I have been racking my brain for a Blog Share post all day. When I signed up to participate, I had an idea in mind. My story was elegant and interesting and something that I didn’t want my blog readers who know me in real life to know. And then I forgot it. In truth, another potential Blog Share-worthy story popped up, but now I’ve decided I’m not ready to tell that one because I’m still working out how I feel about it and I am not ready to open myself up to comments and criticisms on that particular issue. And so….I’ve been stumped.

I’ve decided on something that isn’t glamorous or exciting or even all that scandalous, but it’s something about which I am embarrassed. Actually, I’m beyond embarrassed. I think it’s fair to say I’m even ashamed. This shame, however, is what makes me want to talk about it – because if anyone else has done the same thing, well, I want that person to read this and know that she or he is not alone. That there are other people who have done this or do this or will do this.

With that grand of an intro, I’m quite certain you will be disappointed to know that I’ve been gearing up to talk about money management. I can hear the crowds booing now. Still, I promise you: anyone who has trouble managing his or her money probably feels a deep sense of mortification whenever money is mentioned. I know I did.

When I was in college, I bounced so many checks that I actually had a charge filed against me by…I think the city?…and I had to attend a money management class to get it removed from my record. I’d love to tell you that this happened because I was trying to put together tuition money and finance my own books, room, and board, but that would be a lie. My parents gave me a generous allowance every months, and if I ever needed extra money, all I had to do was call them. I had absolutely no excuse except my own refusal to keep track of what I had and didn’t have, and then my refusal to abstain from going out when I “didn’t have”.

I wish I could tell you that I outgrew this by the time I graduated, but I didn’t. I continued this behavior even through graduate school. I didn’t just bounce checks – I was also a big fan of not paying my bills. I just wouldn’t pay them. I paid rent, sure, but electricity and cable and phone? Nah. I had all three cut off so many times I can’t even count. I would sheepishly drive down to the electric company office in the shiny little sportscar my parents bought me and stand in line with people who were clearly struggling to make ends meet, pay all my overdue bills, and then go home and wait in the dark for my electricity to come back on. Sometimes, when I didn’t have money to pay my overdue bills, I borrowed from friends. Have you ever experienced the embarrassment of having to borrow money from your friends? It sucks. It really, really sucks.

No, I did not have a drug problem. No, I was not involved in anything sketchy. Hell, I wasn’t even fashionable or flashy. To this day, I have no idea where my money went. Oh, how it went. I cannot explain it. I cannot explain why I put off paying my bills or why I wouldn’t just check my bank balance on a regular basis so I could know what was or was not in it. I wish I could.

I CAN, however, explain to you how I overcame this. With the help of a brilliant and wonderful psychologist, I learned a lesson that I repeat to myself even to this day, even in different contexts. It sounds simple, but it works. I learned to remind myself that no matter how much I dread something, the consequences of putting it off are usually more dreadful.

For example: if I dread checking my bank balance because I am afraid that it will show I have $3.62 in my account, I have two choices. I can choose not to check the bank balance and go write a check for $162 in whatever at a store (well, okay, nowadays I can’t even do that since everything is automated, but BACK THEN, I could). The result is even worse: it creates a new thing to dread, which is seeing a bank balance with a minus sign in front of it.

It is better to know than not to know.

I know what most of you are thinking. I can hear it, all the way over here. Duh. What a stupid bitch. EVERYONE knows that. This chick is a brat. And you would be right. The thing is, though, I think one or two of you will read this and think, She is right, that is the most embarrassing thing in the world and I always felt like everyone else had their act together but at least I know now that someone else went through this, too.

You’re not alone. And if you’re really, truly struggling this, ask -R- if you can find out who I really am, and we’ll talk privately about it. (If you ask sincerely, and R asks me if it’s okay for her to give my real information out). I promise, you can fix this. You can break this horrible cycle and you can stop calling the bank to beg them to take off another $37.50 charge for overdrawing your account. I promise.

Grace in Small Things Part 23 of 365

  1. Weeks without Mondays!
  2. Flat Stanley is leaving!
  3. It’s Biggest Loser night.
  4. This new product from Sony. I gotta get one! (Note, this has sound NSFW. The video is clean, just use headphones if you’re listening at work, or in a room with children.)
  5. It’s time for Blog Share! I’ll be posting an anonymous submission on my blog soon, and something I wrote is out there, somewhere on another Blog Share participant’s site.