I try not to talk much about money publicly. In fact, I probably feel more comfortable talking about being suicidal than I do talking about finances. It doesn’t seem right to me, though. In fact, it’s heartbreaking to me that I seem to see money as more sacred than my own life sometimes. What is wrong with me? Anytime something financially unexpected happens, I feel compelled to do some mental flogging as penance–negative self talk, intentional self-loathing–because I do not earn money.
This post isn’t about my personal finances (we’re fine) but about this mentality that money reflects self-worth, which is so hard for me to shake. And yet, it paralyzes me, too. Rather than getting a paying job and working obsessively to feel worthy, I work constantly on my mental health and try hard to prove to myself that I am valuable without a paycheck. It’s just hard to believe sometimes. And I can’t decide if this is caused by misogyny, protestantism, capitalism, or if it is just truth. I feel lost in a nation that rewards the rich. I think I’m a lousy American, a lousy Christian, a lousy person. Lazy and parasitic.
And I ask myself, am I sinning by not working or did God make me this way? Is my depression punishment or is life really about giving and receiving love? I’m so confused and distraught over this struggle in my head. But, in December, I committed to stop literally calculating my dollar value in terms of my consumption of food and energy. I am not going to contemplate how my death could save my family money no matter how strong the urge. This is the first time since December that my depression has told me that I should think about these things again. But I won’t.
Maybe I am in serious denial, and maybe we all have a monetary value that matters to God, but I’m trying to make sure that my kid has a mother she loves to give her her life-saving injections. That has to be enough. I have to believe that it is enough. But what if it isn’t?
To be honest, just avoiding a breakdown only to immediately have your child diagnosed with a chronic illness that requires a lot of attention (and, of course, money) has made the beginning of this year tough. I’m finding myself having a harder time fighting. But I am still fighting hard. Today when I wanted to start crunching numbers, I didn’t. I started writing this post instead. And now I feel confident that I will not do any monetary self-worth math today. This is a success. A big one. It’s the first test of one of my new, major, mental health commitments. And I passed. Keep fighting, friends, and, if you need to, focus on making it through just this moment before you worry about the next.