Trauma Happy Finance: Digging for Gratefulness in Old Places

Welcome to Mondays here at Trauma Happy Finance! On Mondays I share something new I’m trying.

For a long time I’ve looked at just the negative consequences of growing up with my majorly mentally ill mom. But recently I find myself thinking about the good that’s come out of it. Maybe it’s just age softening the angry young man part of me but I’d like to believe that my New Miguel Habits also have something to do with it. Or maybe it’s like getting bored of an album you’ve heard hundreds of times before and now you just want to hear a different tune in your head. So I’m making the effort to dig into my brain to find outcomes from growing up that I’m grateful for, even if their origins are scary.

Finance is in the name of this blog and I haven’t written anything about personal finance yet. I keep thinking that my take on money is not applicable to most people because it’s so colored by mom’s paranoia about money. Therefore I am unqualified to talk about it. But that’s silly isn’t it? It’s my experience and it’s the truth of how I look at my personal finances and so it is worth sharing.

When I read personal finance posts on other sites I’m surprised by how judgmental I can get about the author. I start thinking about how “behind” the intended audience is. My head goes through convoluted insults like, “Of course keeping track of every financial transaction you do in an iOS app is a worthwhile endeavor! Without good data and hard evidence, how can you truly understand your spending habits?” Or I get snooty about how accepting some people are about carrying debt. But I have to breathe and take a step back and remember that for me, money was a source of fear. Seeing mom get so angry about it and being so careful about household expenses made me aware that money is a thing that runs out. That money makes me Mom scared.

So I’m grateful that mom’s paranoias combined with her inherent personality latched onto personal finance as the thing to obsess over. Looking back now, I understand that the intensity of Mom’s paranoia about money was because of her brain disease. I’m semi-thankful that her paranoia rubbed off on me. So I got diluted money paranoia which I use to motivate my self to understand and learn about personal finance. My reaction to Mom’s intense fear has driven me to grab my brightest flashlight and see money for what it really is so it can’t handcuff me like it did Mom.

I’m grateful for the fleeting moments I notice that I’m making progress. For those four seconds when I notice that I’m resisting drafting a post to put up here. For giving myself the space and permission to take stock of how my body feels the morning after having drinks the night before. And for the two seconds I don’t beat myself up about it before I go right back into self-criticism mode. With Mom’s brain disease I often felt like I wasn’t making progress with helping her or anticipating her needs. I’m thankful that I’m learning to listen to my self and my own needs after years of listening for hers.

Thank you, Mom, for showing me that money is a thing to be feared so that I have the drive to stare Money Monster in the face to understand what I’m fighting.

And thank you, Mom, for all those years of feeling stuck not making progress with helping you get better. It made me thirsty for progress and now I have progress to look for in tiny fulfilling moments in my own life.

What’s something you’re grateful for that wouldn’t exist without a painful origin? If you feel comfortable, share in the comments below. If you’d rather share privately send me an email: miguel [at] hellomiguel [dot] com

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