Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lighten Up Francis

The wuzband was in real estate when the market crashed. It was hard. But we had always had money problems. While we were married I learned how to rob Peter to pay Paul. I learned how to rotate bills so each was always on the verge of being cut off, but not actually cut off….most of the time. I used to stand at the check out line in stores and fight off the panic that my card would be rejected. I would avert my eyes from the cashier as I waited for the CARD DENIED sign in the little black box. Shame would ooze out of my pores in front of some 17-year-old pimply kid who had no idea what it was like to run a household on money made from sand. It took me two years after my divorce to be able to stand at the little machine and swipe my card without panic welling up in me.

For months after the wuzband left I would walk into a store and immediately feel like I was going to have the shits, even though I had plenty of money. It was fear. Settling right down in my colon, telling me everything was NOT going to be okay. My sweet intestines thought they were taking care of me by having me shit myself before I made a misguided purchase. A purchase that would surely take my beasts and I to the poor house just because mommy wanted some hot boots.

About 5 years in to my money woes marriage I remember sitting at a stoplight and being seized by fear, but this fear was different. This fear was a question that popped into my head: How would you feel if you didn’t have to worry about money? Would you be able to live without this fear, or would you fill it with something else? And then the enormity of the emptiness that would be left if I didn’t have my fear washed over me and I was, to put it simply, stunned. I wish I would have left that stoplight transformed with new clarity about how to live without fear, but really what I left with was an insight and no idea how to apply it to my life.

I realized that the fear of no money was serving a purpose. A sick purpose, but a purpose none the less. It was filling all the empty spaces of my life and propelling me forward while I missed out on the present moment. And this is where I seem stuck these days. I am stuck in the filler fear, but I do not have one thing that I can focus the fear onto. It is a myriad of issues that all seem justified and very real, but in reality are just noise, noise, noise that I use to… what? keep me focused on everything else except what is right in front of me. It is my excuse for not being in the moment, grounding myself, and looking to the universe for comfort. What can The Committee really do as they sit up there all high and mighty in the ether world and play cards while I’m down here in the trenches living this shit? (Not that my life is shit, but when you’re in self-pity mode, you’ve got to use strong statements).

After 5 years of divorce I can look back and see some things the wuzband was good for, and one of those things was getting me to lighten up. I would be huffing and puffing about this thing or that and he would look over at me and say, “Lighten up Francis.” And surprisingly, I would. I would see that I was getting all blown up over nothing. I would feel silly, and laugh. He would shake his head in amazement that I could turn such a mole hill into a raging volcano, lava flowing STRAIGHT TOWARDS US!

That is one thing that I miss out on being a single mama. I miss someone else looking over at me and saying, "Get a grip. Lighten up, Francis." Sometimes I just need a little perspective shift, but it is only after I flip my shit, or yell at the beasts, or run around for days with panic rising up in my chest, that the light flips on. Then I talk with a friend, or have a quiet moment and see, "Sheesh, I am being a total crazy lady over something that will not ruin us. And in my craziness I am doing more damage that high fructose corn syrup could ever do." (Healthy food obsession/guilt is a big freak out for me) Last week SheBear, my acupuncturist, gave me the perspective shift I needed. She looked at me and said, "Why are you doing this? Relax! It is about balance." 

Ahhh, balance, riiiiight...... When she said it I knew she was right. My whole body relaxed, and I had one of those, "Lighten up, Francis," moments. It's so funny when that happens, because truly, the lens of my mind refocuses and I am able to absorb the Divine's answer into my soul. I can feel what is important. Right now. This moment is important, and being present for myself and my beasts is important. Not teaching them to fuel themselves on fear, that is important. Not raising them as if everything is a crisis or an emergency, or THE END OF THE WORLD. So I have found myself saying to myself this week, when my shoulders tense up as if they hold the weight of the world, I say, "Lighten up, Francis." and then I have visions of relaxing, and curling up with the beasts, or even just doing something kind for myself, instead of running around like a crazy lady and trying to save us all from the zombie apocalypse.


  1. Important topic. (More than you realize?)

    It's been 10 years since divorce, and I worked all through my marriage (and for 12+ years before marriage).

    I still live with the money fear, and unfortunately, most of the single mommas I have known do - unless they remarry a man with money.

    It is what it is. A fearful way of life, as we try to minimize the worst of it - and its consequences - from our kids.

  2. I also think the FEAR is the way of our culture these days, and that is what I really want to minimize. This nameless dread that weighs on so many of us and keeps us ungrounded. When I stop my mindless spinning to stare fear in the face (most of the time) it evaporates into nothing. I'm trying to let go of the idea that fear is productive. It really is just an energy waster, unless it is real, and then thank the heavens for it.

    The topic of single mother's and money, now that is a hard topic. All the single mama's I know hustle, hustle, hustle to figure out a way to do it. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon wrote an article about it recently called "The Plight of the Single Mother" I wouldn't even know where to begin when addressing that!