It’s not a secret to anyone that I have a counselor I go see and talk to every now and again. Over the past year he has been immensely helpful in guiding me through my own feelings, which at times have been (and often still are…) completely overwhelming. While I hate starting off a sentence, or blog post with “my therapist said…” the other day he asked me a question that completely blew me away.
We were talking about the recent passing of my beloved dog and companion, Murray, and I was running through the list of things I have to “take care of” : work, house, etc. and I mentioned how much I missed taking care of Murray. I never really thought of myself as the type of person who would enjoy taking care of others, but I loved doing it for him and hope I’ll get to do it again in the future (husband, kids, another dog) someday.
Then my therapist said, “Well that’s really great that you’re continuing on, Lauren, but who takes care of you?”
“What?” I asked, wondering if I’d heard him right.
“Who…. takes care of you?”
It’s an interesting question, and one that I’ve grappled with more as I’ve become an adult. Your parents used to take care of you, and in small ways they still do (my parents have been awesome in helping me out this year when I needed it most), but as you grow and change, and remain single, it’s something to think about.
I’m not saying everyone needs to depend on someone or shouldn’t be able to take care of themselves. You can be awesome at being independent, and awesome at taking care of others, but there will come a time in everyone’s life when they need a little help. For me, the largest part has been helping myself by not throwing my furious energy into one goal, project, post, or whatever comes next. Once I start these endeavors, I usually beat myself up over when I’m not accomplishing, or (ironically) not completing fast enough (like projects around the house.)
What this has to do with finance….
Through it all: a broken engagement, a move, a disaster renovation, and a death in my family (the dog), I’ve clung to my goals for the year and my daily/weekly/quarterly to-do list to help me deal with the grief. I’m a high energy/high production output kind of person. Unfortunately, no one gives gold stars for productivity/accountability during your personal times of sorrow, or really anytime for that matter.
I will probably still track my net worth (which I will unveil the Q2 update on Monday,) but other than that I’m going to sock away my 40% and let the (financial/goal related) chips fall where they may. There will still be plenty of financial things to talk about, but I’m no longer going to beat myself up over every financial decision. You can be responsible, and not be a total nut job.
I didn’t know how to answer my therapist at the time. Actually, the morning I’m thinking of I was feeling particularly sorry for myself and so I answered, sobbing, “No one. I mostly take care of myself,” which isn’t true at all. In fact, in the last two weeks, I’ve had more people reach out, show sympathy and kindness than ever before. It was on Friday when I was drinking the wine by boss had gifted me after I told her I’d had my identity stolen, eating the chocolate ice cream my fabulous friend Leah had sent to me (who I wouldn’t even know if it wasn’t for this blog and the blogger community in Atlanta) that I realized I have a whole network of colleagues, friends, bloggers, fantastic neighbors and internet folks who have opened their arms to “take care of me” a little bit extra in these overwhelming past few weeks. And for that I am filled with more gratitude than ever before.
I also need to publicly say thank you to my family (especially my mom who still lets me cry on the phone every time I miss Murray) and my wonderful boyfriend for making sure I smile at least once a day.
You’ve all made an awkward finance writer feel incredibly, incredibly cherished.