In recent times, I’ve learned that I have a dysfunctional relationship with both love and money. Both of these vices have the potential of being deeply positive and deeply negative. As I reflect on both, I see the different parallels that exist between them. When used positively, they have the potential of making life fruitful and beautiful but negatively, they can really hollow out your heart and mind.
For several years now, my relationship with love has been one of taking, of selfishness. I have found comfort in receiving love from people while keeping them at a distance from my heart so that I never have to give back. I’ve thrived from the attention received from male counterparts but been too cool to attend back. It’s not that I intentionally guard myself or prevent myself from feeling or giving; it just so happens that my life experiences have shaped me into an ungiving, cold person. There is some degree of safety in this. You are not likely to get profoundly hurt or sad. However, that also means that you are unlikely to profoundly learn or grow. To shield your heart from hurt limits the richness of its experience. It may feel as though you have the upper hand when you receive and don’t give but what you have is guilt and perpetual loneliness. Similarly for money, many of us like to hoard money for safety and to look out for ourselves, but there is a perpetual sadness in this. Money feels better when shared, distributed, and given back. Holding onto more money than necessary for survival only provides a very hollow, temporary satisfaction. The enriching way to use it is to distribute.
Perhaps it is the lack of love and money that are capable of making us feel insecure and crippled, and that fear drives us to grip onto it and pull. It can be difficult to go through life without being loved and appreciated. In many ways, being appreciated by another person frees us and instills a certain confidence in us. It gives us a third party validation of our existence and purpose. It makes us feel visible. In that same way, having money gives us those same feelings of confidence, validation, and purpose. It can be deeply negatively affecting to be in deprivation of the two. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that the opposite of deprivation doesn’t have to be excess. For instance, several people end up finding a regular salaried job in their lifetime. Let’s say it’s nothing phenomenal..around $50-$60k. This salary in 2017 in Canada can get you by fairly comfortably. Perhaps you won’t be able to achieve anything phenomenal on it but you will survive comfortably. Yet, most of us would not turn down a raise from our employer. We feel deserving of more always. Most times, we will just use this money to buy more material things and assets but aren’t enriched by the extra little bit of cash in any way. This doesn’t prevent us from chasing this fleeting ‘happiness’ though. We are so afraid of not having these things that we take them without questioning.
This brings us to the final question as to what is a positive relationship or quantity to have with/of the two? I’m not sure, but, from my understanding, giving makes for a much more impressionable experience in our memory than taking. Taking has the most temporary fulfillment. If the taking gives us security, the giving gives us purpose. It will always be harder to give because giving requires strength and vulnerability. Whereas taking only requires ego and self-centredness. I believe that we are beings of sharing and nurturing, in as much as, if not more, of selfishness and taking. So, preventing ourselves from acting on our compassion and caring hurt us more than anyone else. It inhibits us from being the complex, complete beings that we are.
All this being said, I can’t say that I can change the way I am. I foresee myself changing my relationship with money a lot more easily than with love. But hey, recognizing counts, doesn’t it?
(No it doesn’t…not much anyways)
“Got Jeannie dishing on her demons
after the scars, loss, boys, feelings,
I guess this is a necessary heart bleeding.
You want the bars,
Me? I want freedom.”
– Jean Grae, Before the Summer Broke