I’ve always been terrified of getting into debt.
Since my teenage years, my parents instilled in me the importance of seeking their support before resorting to credit cards or loans. On one hand, it demonstrated their generosity and love. However, now in my mid-thirties, I’ve come to realise that this well-intentioned protection inadvertently gave me a complex relationship with money.
Let me go back a bit, to the pivotal moment that shook my sense of self over the past two years. In January 2022, I came to terms with my true identity as a lesbian and made the decision to come out and end my marriage to my then-husband.
The emphasis here is on one word: “realised.”
I didn’t proclaim my sexuality to the world after a lifetime of concealing this truth. There were no sleepless nights rehearsing coming out speeches, no anxiety about how people around me would react. I had been – I thought – a contented, married heterosexual woman for my entire life.
And then, in a matter of minutes, I uncovered a facet of myself that had always been there, but concealed from my own awareness.
Like the finest plot twists in our favourite stories, my perception of reality was forever altered once the revelation occurred. I saw through the looking glass.
But, much like the most memorable plot twists I’ve enjoyed, I spent considerable time retracing the steps that led to that pivotal moment. I revisited every aspect of my journey, searching for foreshadowing, hints, and evidence of the impending twist, feeling somewhat foolish for not having noticed it sooner.
As someone who absorbs stories like a sponge, I relish the opportunity to predict a plot twist. Therefore, failing to recognise my own hidden truths over the years has left me doubting my own judgment.
I thought I knew myself quite well. But clearly, I was wrong.
So, returning to the notion of my fear of money, what has recently come to the surface is my reluctance to seek financial support as I embark on this phase of life where I aim to become self-reliant.
Asking for financial assistance feels like an admission that I cannot be trusted to provide for myself.
Hence, I’ve been avoiding, postponing, and even rejecting the idea of seeking support from my parents. The question that keeps resurfacing is: why?
Why am I so determined to prove to myself that I can fend for myself when all signs (overdraft, empty bank account, self-imposed Klarna ban) point to the fact that I can’t?
Here’s what I think.
I’m not fighting against my parents; I’m fighting against the patriarchy.
It’s the system that ingrained in me the notion that being a woman equates to weakness, that being a woman implies dependence on the stability of a man, and that being a woman inherently means needing help.
And that infuriates me.
The problem (?) is that I’m so furious that I’d rather dwell miserably in my overdraft than seek support from the people I love.
And the fact is I don’t actually know if I’ll be able to prove that I am, indeed, capable of supporting myself.
I don’t know if I’ll affirm the narrative that a woman on her own is helpless. Or perhaps, I’ll sail off into the sunset on a life raft fashioned from my own two capable hands.
But what I’m currently focused on, what holds the utmost importance for me right now, is learning to trust in my ability to make it work, either way.
What does it look like to rebuild that self-trust after concealing your true self for so many years? For me, it entails:
1. Believing in my own experiences.
2. Allowing my perception of those experiences to evolve over time.
3. Forgiving myself for keeping certain aspects of my identity hidden.
This journey is about embracing financial independence while simultaneously embracing trust in oneself, which means sometimes withstanding the uncomfortable truth: it is hard to do both.