My blog about rescue of any sort but including money was simplistic and had layers and layers of Catholic-driven judgment just under the surface. I hate that Catholic side of me, judging myself, judging other people.
I think this is a more balance view: when you hit the skids, you need help to get up, and you’re entitled to ask for it in the best way that you know how. In fact, you’re entitled to ask for help whether you’re on skid row or not. Nobody’s got the right to judge you, because they’re not inside your head or your experience, and they don’t what your journey is. You’re the only one who knows that.
People are also entitled to say no if they want to. It cuts both ways.
I hold onto the idea that money on its own doesn’t solve the problem, but at least you’re trying to survive, you aren’t giving up, and that’s the part you can be proud of and hold onto. There’s no place at all for judgment in this, actually, it just mutilates. There’s no place for judgment ever. When a person’s down it’s a horrible place to be. The worst torture of all is to be trapped in believing that it’s everybody else’s fault – because it renders you absolutely powerless. You have to work real hard to get out of that one!
I also meant what I said about the real solution; that learning to be accountable is what gets you back on your feet in a way that you don’t fall down again.
And I believe that requires a real, live relationship with a therapist who can teach you gently over time, with infinite care, patience and unconditional love, so you finally get to understand that being accountable isn’t about saying “I was a bad person and I must pay for my sins”. It’s about seeing that you made choices and they had consequences.
Part of the knowledge is also seeing that you were doing your best, that your choices were driven by unresolved things within yourself you weren’t even aware of. It’s about having desperately needed unconditional love but not having known how to find it except by being destructive to self and others to a greater or a lesser extent.
I’m sure we’re born with the innate knowledge of how to recognize healthy love, but it gets conditioned out of us through our experiences with our parents, family etc. We learn that we’re not okay, we’re not lovable, not safe in the world. As a child if I don’t get the love I need I conclude I’m not lovable. I never conclude there’s something wrong with my parents or the way they’re behaving towards me. I also conclude I don’t have the right to the quality of love I naturally yearn for in every cell of my body.
I’ve come across so many adults who can’t acknowledge that their parents didn’t give them what they needed. They’d rather blame themselves for being somehow at fault. For the longest time I thought you had to have been violently and obviously abused either physically or emotionally to have been negatively affected by your childhood, and I think that’s quite a generally held opinion.
People who are trapped within themselves say “but I had a happy childhood, my parents loved me, they had a great marriage”. I don’t think that’s always denial, I think it’s also that people don’t realize how intense a child’s needs are, and how much every tiny nano-experience impacts massively on it, forcing it to adapt its behavior.
So, part of being accountable is looking at the truth of those early experiences and seeing how your needs as a child weren’t met – and how painful it was – and how that led you to adopt patterns of behavior. Back then you didn’t have any choice, you had to adapt or die.
But skid row as an adult is a different story. Once you see where your behavior comes from, you do have a choice. You can choose to seek the love and support and teaching you didn’t get. You can fill up the experiential gaps. I know, because I’ve done it and still do it. If I listen very well and with focus, I can feel the yearning in my body that comes up in all sorts of situations. A longing to cry, yell, speak, feel safe, touched, heard, spoken to. When my needs are met as well as I long for them to be, deep inside of myself I can feel – I have to use this word, though it’s become such a tawdry cliché – healing. Slowly my world view changes, as does my behavior.
The basic challenge isn’t about money, I believe that, but while you’re facing all of this, you have to stay alive, which does take money. So if part of your challenge is that you’re not good at generating it, you have to ask for help. And it’s okay to do it. If that’s the best thing you can think of to do, it’s got to be okay.
If people want to say no that’s their right, and you’re allowed to reach out to somebody else. Hopefully you aren’t using the money to avoid the real challenge of facing yourself, but even if you are, you’ll get to understand that, at some point. Life will lead you there. You won’t be condemned to hell for it.
We’re allowed to make mistakes – it better be okay, since it’s the only way we know how to learn! We’re allowed whatever learning curve we need. And I believe that life supports us along it.
Gently does it.