For years after my mother’s death, I had this recurring nightmare: She was returned from the dead, and she wanted her money back.
The worst part about those dreams was the part where I had to explain to her that the money was all gone. My throat would close up and I couldn’t speak to her. I’d wake up sweaty and terrified.
I felt like such a shitty person, a total loser.
90% of the time I am firmly in the camp of I am done repenting for my mistakes. I have forgiven myself. I love myself. I am a good person.
But it’s the other 10%…that’s when I forget all of that and feel horribly ashamed and inadequate. When I am so mad at myself and afraid people will find out and call me stupid.
I inherited my mom’s estate at 26 and at the time of this writing, almost 20 years later, all of that money is gone.
My mother had never spoken to me about her estate, never talked to me about money, except to say that if she ever died, I should hang on to EVERYTHING for three years – let the dust settle and then see what’s what.
I doubt she expected to die at 53, I doubt she planned on leaving things in such an undone state.
There was no updated will, and no estate had been planned. I remember the day I found out what I was inheriting. I was sitting in the lawyer’s fancy boardroom feeling very much like a little girl in dress-up clothes, signing the papers. ALL THE PAPERS. Why do you need so many papers when someone dies?
When the accountant came in and told me what the estate had been estimated to be worth, I could feel the vomit begin to rise
And as much as I wanted to seem composed, I barely made it to the bathroom. Afterward, I sat on the toilet with my head between my knees completely paralyzed. I had zero knowledge of how money worked and I was being given a very big responsibility, and I was alone in that.
I learned that day that I had inherited cash, stocks, bonds, a small business, two condos, a car, and a crazy amount of STUFF. More baubles and knickknacks than a person had a right to.
There were all kinds of people who came out of the woodwork offering to help me manage the money, invest the money, and of course, spend the money. It was a confusing time. Looking back now, I realize how much it must have freaked the adults out to see this ‘kid’ with that kind of money.
There were adults in my life who tried to talk sense into me, friends of my mother’s, but I felt I knew better. I am still amazed and deeply grateful to one friend who did have the guts to push me into counseling, and she stayed on my butt until I did it. That one decision may have just saved my life and kept me from becoming a serious addict. Years later, I see that this one decision is what started me on my healing journey which eventually led to me helping others in my healing practice.
It would turn out that the money they said I inherited was really just inflated ‘this is what it looks like on paper’ speak which counted in things like the condos and the car when in reality, both condos came with mortgages and association dues, and the car still had payments on it. The lawyers and their tendency toward over-inflation, not to mention their suspicious and litigious nature really made everything so much more complicated and confusing than it ever needed to be. I was left worse off in many respects because I did not honor my own gut and look for new representation. I can own that now.
Somewhere in there, we had several stock market crashes. The stocks went down by half overnight. But sometimes they were up and I could cash them – and do very important things like buying furniture from Pottery Barn or help a friend who needed money without considering the consequences of those choices.
I used some of the money to pay off the massive student loan debt I had racked up. I went to college on the 6-8 year ‘change your major’ plan. I took out loans feeling that they were free money. It might seem naive to you, but nobody ever told me: when you take this money as a loan, one day you will be responsible for paying it all back, plus interest (in some cases A LOT of interest).
At the same time, I began studying in my field of healing, and so entered into new kinds of student debt. I didn’t have a financial plan, I didn’t lay out my nut and get clear on how this was going to be paid for, I operated under that misguided unconscious vibe: somehow it always works out… ( which it does, but when you’re not dealing with the mess in front of you – life has a funny way of giving you what you need so you can heal )
Repenting for my mistakes
I have to say, at this very moment as I write this, I realize what courage and bravery it takes for me to write this post. I feel such gratitude for the teachers and healers who have helped me come to terms with what happened and the choices I made, but most of all for helping me see how small I was playing. Eventually, I would see what a teeny tiny pool I was allowing myself to swim in by not claiming responsibility for my choices and consciously choosing my path.
But back then, I just didn’t get it. I didn’t get how all of this unconscious money spending was affirming a story that I am not good enough, I am not worthy, I am undeserving of the good life has to offer me…and don’t even get me started on how much anxiety I felt about the money itself–will it last, will there be enough, and if not how will I ever earn more? This kept me awake at night and prevented me from even enjoying it.
I lived unconsciously. I’d charge up my credit cards and pay them off again. I’d take out second mortgages to pay off the credit cards and then cash out some stock to pay off the second mortgage. Eventually, I sold the condos and bought a house. While I was good at buying and selling real estate, eventually the market changed. My unconscious money management did not.
And then, there were no more bailouts, and it all caught up to me. I was broke. The money was gone.
Forgiving and learning to love me always in all ways
There are many people who have written about those who’ve inherited fortunes, won lotteries, received massive blessings. In most cases, when the person doesn’t know their worthiness and goodness, they are unable to hang on to the money. I was just such a person, I never felt deserving but I do now.
I told you as I began this Abundance Series that I am now an excellent Steward of Abundance.
It all began with a ton of hard knocks, embarrassing mistakes, and I told you so’s that I finally woke up to. I’ve had a lot of time to understand my money story. Going all the way back to my first allowance in kindergarten when I spent every penny on all the candy I could buy only to have my mom tell me I was a bad girl for spending it on stupid things.
I could tell you story after story like that but I won’t. Because at some point, those stories become toxic and dangerous anchors. Each of us must make our own way, embracing our life with open arms and take responsibility. We must move forward in the direction we intend. That means, we need to look at the money, the spending, get a financial map happening. We have to.
If you want abundance to stay with you, you must become an amazing host.
I work with people with great big goobly piles of loot and even people younger than me who have already paid off their mortgages. I see people who cry about not earning enough money when they’ve earned three times what I did last year. People who inherited a REAL fortune but are embroiled in bitter family feuds…and what I’ve learned is that there is no amount of money that can save you.
Your issues & anxieties left unaddressed will continue to rise to meet you.
I cried more than a few times writing this post. It’s not an easy thing to remember and write about the stuff I did. Hard to feel once again that if only I had had my head screwed on straight, I’d still have a lot of money today. Tiny waves of shame hit me, and I take my heart and tell it: You’re a good person, and it’s okay.
And that brings me to my point.
Most of the time, I am in the 90% and things feel easy. I’m proud of my accomplishments and am proud to claim the life I am living. But when the 10% hits me, in those moments the only thing that matters is having a way to know for sure that I am truly NOT that piece of shit my mind is telling me I am. And the way I do that is by knowing, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I am honoring my 100% responsibility pledge. That’s it. I know I am following my financial map, and I see my progress.
I have been getting so many emails since I began the abundance series – people who wake up sweaty and scared just like I did and still sometimes do. People who pay off their credit cards and then charge them right back up.
These shenanigans will continue until you take that bull by the horns, my friend.
There is really nothing else to say. You must look at it all, lay it all out, and take responsibility for your journey. Why postpone your joy and freedom?
And I offer that to you: Why postpone your joy and freedom? Why continue to allow yourself to be terrorized? Why let this situation continue? You matter, and I care about you.
One last little story.
I was speaking with my healer about the last bit of cash that went poof in an instant back in 2008. It was the very last of my mother’s money, and it represented to the little wounded one in me my very last hope. She looked me in the eye and said, “Robin, thank God that money went away. Thank God it went away so you would be forced to learn to stand on your own two feet and claim your power.”
Yes, indeed. Thank God. I am standing on my own now. Making my way. Tending to my own savings now. It feels freaking awesome. I want that for you too. No more excuses, no more blame.
P.S. This post was originally written in 2014, you can read the entire Abundance Series HERE