Money, Part 1- The Early Years

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These things I write in hopes of exploring my thinking around money, to change my relationship to it, and to let go of limiting programming of the past.

I am part of the first generation in my family to be born into a home with indoor toilets. I come from very rural, hardworking, blue (if not dirt-brown or coal-black) collar stock. By a few hours, I am the first Key man to graduate college. (I graduated from the University of Alabama in May of 97, my brother graduated in the afternoon commencement. In essence, he shares the honor.)

My parents argued almost continuously throughout their almost fifty years of marriage. (He died three months before what would have been their fiftieth anniversary.) They argued about different things but the number one cause was money. As a child, I hated being in my room and hearing them scream at each other. The fact that their ire often got turned toward me made any kind of volatility in the home feel especially dangerous. I was too young to completely understand much about what this “money” thing was, but whatever it was it must be bad. It had the two people I loved the most sounding like they were about to rip each other apart. I hated money and its contribution to the nightmare.

As far as life philosophy goes, with regard to anything, we looked to the church to tell us how to think and feel. Discussion of money from the pulpit or in the bible classroom were clear. The love of money is the root of all evil. (I Timothy 6:10)  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle that for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus didn’t own anything and he was the best example of what we were supposed to be. He went around helping the sick and the poor. I wanted to please Jesus. I wanted to be like Jesus as much as I could. When the Rich Young Ruler asked Jesus what he needed to do, Jesus told him, “Sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” That made a pretty big impression on me. I wanted to be like Jesus.

When I looked around to cultural clues to see how to feel about money, I got the idea that “most people around these parts” were poor and working class people living paycheck to paycheck and as hard as that was, there seemed to be an essential goodness about that. There was almost something holy about being poor. There seemed to be a general disdain for the wealthy and a certain pride in being “hard workin’ folk” of the particularly Southern variety. People seemed to celebrate their industriousness and resilience which I continue to think is great, but it also seemed to depend in some ways on the people staying poor.

If there was a question of whether we were to do something or have something, it was never a question of if we really wanted to do it or really wanted to have it; it was always a question of money. Could we afford it? In that way, money ruled our lives and the lives of those in our community. Because of the arguments around home, the cultural clues, and money’s control over our wants and desires, I thought of us as poor. Now, having seen what real poverty looks like, I understand how rich we were. For example, I thought because we had a garden, that meant we were poor. Now I know the value of fresh, unengineered food and I can see how lucky I was. In fact, compared to many people in the world we were very, very rich. I know this now; I didn’t know it then. All I knew then was that there was a lot of anxiety around money. My parents felt it. The people of Walker County felt it, and it wasn’t long before every thought or feeling I had around money was fueled with anxiety.

These are my earliest memories around money.

I had a wonderful breakfast at Jack’s Hamburgers in Parrish this morning with a woman named Shana. She’d contacted me on Facebook and asked if we could meet. I’ve got a lot of people wanting a piece of my time lately. (“Oh no, it’s not about the blog! I’d just like to see you.” haha.) So when Shana asked for a slice of my Sunday morning, to tell you the truth I didn’t really want to go. But we have friends in common and she had grown up as a little gay boy in Walker Country before coming to terms with the fact that she was in fact transgendered and would go on to express as a woman for the rest of her life. God, that must have been rough. Sure, I thought, I’ll go and meet this woman. I can probably help her out by bolstering her self esteem some. I bet she’s a mess, I thought.

Ha! this woman doesn’t need my help. In fact, it was the other way around. I walked in to Jacks to find this tall beautiful expression of confidence with long blonde hair and black patent-leather boots. We got our coffees (and I got a couple egg and cheese biscuits and “hash rounds”) and we chose a booth by the window. Let me tell you, after we exchanged a few pleasantries, Shana opened up those painted lips and the Gospel flew out!  She said just about everything I needed to hear. Hers was a message of happiness and strength that reminded me what we queer people have to go through to grow up in this often relentlessly un-accepting world. But more than that, she reminded me of how we can flourish when we find our wings. She, too, survived and got out of Walker County and has gone on to “do hair” for some names that would just make your jaw drop is all! She is a beauty consultant and stylist to the stars! She travels and has lived in exciting and wonderful places, is living a wonderful life! She’s headed to New Orleans next. I wish I could go too. God sent this angel to me today with a message of hope. My ego is so funny sometimes. “I hope this woman doesn’t drag me down!” (Gurl, please.)

One of the main points to her sermon (I use the term in the kindest of ways) was that it’s not good to focus too much on the wounds of the past but to look to the future with hope and faith. That’s a good message. The reason I bring up this particular loint now is because I have been spending a fair amount of time lately telling you about the past. I’m taking what Sister Shana said this morning to heart. I do need to remember where I’m going and not just focus on where I’ve been. Living in Walker County again has been pretty “restimulating” for me. It’s taken me back to some very unpleasant memories. But if I want to get out of here again, I’ve got to figure out this money situation and that’s what brings me back around to what I started telling you at the beginning of this blog.

None of this looking back in history is about “poor, pitiful me.” That’s a road that leads to no where. It’s not about blame either. Nobody from my past needs to be punished and if they do it’s not my job to do the punishing. What I am up to with this is “uncover, discover, discard.” If I could simply move forward and do what I know I need to do to accomplish my goals, I would. I am meeting a fair amount of resistance as you can see from the checklists. This takes me immediately back to a place of wanting to commit suicide and I know that that’s not an option because of what it would do to people. That being said, codependency is a shitty reason to stay alive. I have to unpack all this stuff so I can get rid of what I don’t need. The limiting programing that has been lurking, in some cases since the 60s, in my subconscious has got to go. Simply pretending like the programing didn’t happen just does not cut it. If that worked, I’d already have my Tony. Trust me, there is no one better on earth who is better at pretending bad shit didn’t happen than abuse survivors. Also, I have absolutely no desire to wallow around in painful memories. No one is better at avoiding pain than an alcoholic/addict. Indeed, we made a lifestyle out of it. I have to lift the long-hidden limiting ideas into the Light so that I can save my life. That’s what all this is about.

Here is the  DAILY ACTION ITEMS CHECKLIST from yesterday:

1) List ten things for which I am grateful. YES

2) Meditate ten minutes morning and evening. NO

3) Read spiritual literature for ten minutes each morning. NO

4) Keep a record of every penny that came in and every penny that went out. YES

5) Work out (CrossFit or lift, Sunday is my off day). YES

6) Be true to my sexual reboot program. NO

7) 30 minutes of Mobility WOD (Google it if you don’t know what this is). NO

8) Pray for Adam Nelson. YES

9)  Tithe 10% where I’m spiritually fed and invest 10% for the future. start now on every penny that comes in, no matter how large or small the amount. YES

10) Write for four hours each and every day.NO

11)  Drink a gallon of water. NO

12) Spend one hour per day working for the Mehadi Foundation. NO

And because it’s Sunday, I’ll check in on the weekly support group meeting goal.

WEEKLY ACTION ITEM:

1) Three support group meetings per week. NO, I went to one.

See y’all tomorrow.


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