I’ve been keeping secrets.
I’ve been hiding truths.
But it’s time to come clean.

My mother and grandmother used to take me shopping. Not often, but when we did, it was really special. I got to spend time with them — just me and them. Trying on dresses and cute jackets and beautiful shoes.

We didn’t have a lot of money and my mother rarely bought things for herself. But they seemed to love giving me this kind of attention. And as the girl living in the home with the alcoholic parents who screamed and fought and threw things through windows, it felt so good to be out in public, pretending we were normal, buying pretty things and having lunch.

A seemingly simple thing on the surface. I loved those shopping dates. But I had no idea how they imprinted my brain with the idea that love = cute dresses. Love = beautiful shoes. Love = shopping. Love = spending money.

As you might imagine, I am the proud owner of a lot of beautiful shoes.

I’m also the owner of a heart and brain that transferred those experiences to larger financial investments. Purchases. Ways of living that were expensive. And it was ok because I worked hard to earn a lot. So I could “love” myself and everyone in my life a lot. So I could make them feel special in the exact same way I’d been made to feel special.

But a divorce and two big family deaths later and those choices can catch up with you. And if you are a good ACoA, you learned to never look at the truth at home and so I didn’t look at my mounting debt. Sure it kept me up at night, but I shoved it down. For a long time. So long it involved the IRS. Payment plans. Credit scores gone awry.

I’ve got the financial bit mostly sorted, but I’ve never addressed the behavior. The way I learned to love myself with spending. It’s so hard to look at. I’m embarrassed. Ashamed.

But this childhood wound has become a cage. I need to finally look at this and all I’m afraid it says about me. I need to learn new ways to love myself. It begins today.

I’ve been hiding truths.
But it’s time to come clean.

My mother and grandmother used to take me shopping. Not often, but when we did, it was really special. I got to spend time with them — just me and them. Trying on dresses and cute jackets and beautiful shoes.

We didn’t have a lot of money and my mother rarely bought things for herself. But they seemed to love giving me this kind of attention. And as the girl living in the home with the alcoholic parents who screamed and fought and threw things through windows, it felt so good to be out in public, pretending we were normal, buying pretty things and having lunch.

A seemingly simple thing on the surface. I loved those shopping dates. But I had no idea how they imprinted my brain with the idea that love = cute dresses. Love = beautiful shoes. Love = shopping. Love = spending money.

As you might imagine, I am the proud owner of a lot of beautiful shoes.

I’m also the owner of a heart and brain that transferred those experiences to larger financial investments. Purchases. Ways of living that were expensive. And it was ok because I worked hard to earn a lot. So I could “love” myself and everyone in my life a lot. So I could make them feel special in the exact same way I’d been made to feel special.

But a divorce and two big family deaths later and those choices can catch up with you. And if you are a good ACoA, you learned to never look at the truth at home and so I didn’t look at my mounting debt. Sure it kept me up at night, but I shoved it down. For a long time. So long it involved the IRS. Payment plans. Credit scores gone awry.

I’ve got the financial bit mostly sorted, but I’ve never addressed the behavior. The way I learned to love myself with spending. It’s so hard to look at. I’m embarrassed. Ashamed.

But this childhood wound has become a cage. I need to finally look at this and all I’m afraid it says about me. I need to learn new ways to love myself. It begins today.