I am obsessed with money these days. Taxes, the fear of being cheated, the sense of being on the brink of disaster..these all chase me daily. I look compulsively for bargains. I fear I’ve missed something, that I’ve been tricked into overpaying for something; or worse, I could get something for free that I’m paying for. I see shysters on every corner. I refuse to give money to charity; I don’t know what’s reaching the target beneficiaries. I have debts…a lawyer, property taxes my husband weaseled out of, a high tuition bill, a roof to replace.
I know the divorce settlement is playing into this. My ex is paying off his 25 year financial marriage with what I call “magic money”- which means I am taking possession of the property and he puts more in my debt column, as the house is under water. No cash involved, his hands are clean. He is still convinced, all W 2s, 9s, et al. staring him fully in the face, that I am making much more money than he is.
I thought I was “making good choices” by investing in education for the kids, buying a family home; buying an investment property that I could also work in. I expected my husband to lead the way in watching, keeping an eye out on our finances, because he insisted he HAD to do it, it was his JOB. My choices, his choices, now stare me in the face. The experiences that cost money now cause me regret, even while in retrospect, those choices seemed positive. And not in a frivolous, “I want that pretty necklace” kind of way. I thought I was investing in experience, education, and relationship.
Now, I question all of it. The kids should have been in public school, all the way through college. NO vacations. NO horses. And absolutely no turning over the finances, the budget or investments, to anyone else. “You idiot”! I now say to myself. You should have sat on that pile of cash, like the dragon protecting her hoard, breathing fire and staying in the cave. NO ONE is looking out for you. Certainly not your ex. Certainly not the purported “professionals”.
I can also see that our family enjoyed the 90s and suffered during the 2008 economic disaster. Why would we be exempt from the wider movements, the changing of the financial tides? Nonetheless, I am so angry at myself for not thinking more thoroughly “what does this mean?” And then I switch perspectives, realizing that as the country’s finances fell to shreds, I was also swept into the grief of my friend’s death, the confusion of my emotional dependence on my old friend, and the fear of my own mortality.
Just fucking bad timing.
I reacquainted myself with some women neighbors at a holiday party last weekend. I was surprised…many of the women are divorced, two or more after many years. While I am encouraged by their survival, I am not sure I like the prospect of 20 more years alone. They claim it’s easier to be independent and I am certainly of that bent. But I’d like a fill in on financial survival, how you survive the painful anxiety and the loneliness, the fear of being old or sick and ending up on someone’s couch.
I think I prefer the illusion that someone’s taking care of me than the reality that no one did or will. I married too young. While money can’t buy you love, love is apparently ephemeral, and previous performance doesn’t guarantee future returns.