“The unknown is the only place where we find out what we’re truly made of.”
– Josh Radnor
Today I received some perilous financial news. Not for the first time recently. And yet today, in the midst of uncertainty and difficulty, I feel free. I feel all shall be well.
It’s a strange feeling.
We don’t like to talk about money. It’s almost like oxygen in that we rarely talk about, yet without it our lives wouldn’t run properly. Money pays for food, housing and all our bills. But yet we’re ashamed to talk about it.
One of the results of this, in my view, is it becomes a much bigger stress for us than it should be. We don’t want to talk about money, so we bury any struggles we might be having. Somehow, our financial status has been attached to our value or maturity as human beings.
As I alluded to before, I’ve experienced this in the last two years, which have been the most financially challenging of my life. I quit my job, and once my money ran out I almost lost my house, which led to a major depressive episode and suicidal ideation on my part. But then I found a permanent job.
However, this initially paid weekly, which threw my budgeting all over the place, causing me more stress and financial uncertainty. Then I got a very small windfall and got paid monthly. Finally, it seemed to all fall into place. Finances under control.
Then I got a letter from the bank today with some unexpected, sudden and challenging news. They took a decision which they argued was to help my finances, but will have the complete opposite effect and undo all the good work I’ve done in the last few months.
And yet again, financial challenges arise. Probably the biggest one of all, if I’m honest.
But this time I’m not sitting here depressed. I’m not in a pit of despair. I actually feel calm. I feel in control. It doesn’t feel like a life altering disaster.
One could argue it’s the numbness of my soul trying to avoid confronting the situation. Trying to bury the emotion and despair.
But I don’t think so. I’ve done that plenty of times and I recognise it when I see it. This isn’t it.
Maybe it’s because I know in a few months my flat will be sold, and I can not only buy somewhere new, but my debts will all be paid.
But I don’t think it’s just this. I think I’ve changed.
It’s weird because I was surprised by my own calm reaction to the situation. This isn’t how I’ve historically dealt with pressure. In fact, in many ways I was more shocked than anyone at my reaction to this news.
So here’s the truth I’ve come to:
I am free.
I am free because I’ve been down this path and survived.
I am free, in a sense, because of my suffering.
I’ve had it all stripped away, nearly lost it all, gone down to the darkest depths, and I’ve survived.
The stronghold money had on my life, the fear of the worst which crippled me for a long time and almost destroyed me, has gone. I’ve been liberated. I’ve unwittingly built up resilience.
I’m reading a Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” recently, a book which talks about the hero’s journey. And a quote stuck out at me as I reflected on this situation:
Where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god.
Where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves.
Where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the centre of our own existence.
Where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.
– Joseph Campbell, ‘The Hero with A Thousand Faces’.
This is so true for me. In the last two years have confronted a monster I thought was against me, only to find the divine inviting me to intimacy. I have slain my old self and discovered my truest self, which is slowly being raised to life. I have travelled to the centre of myself and know there is further to go. And, finally, I now know I am not alone.
This is the journey I am on, the story I am telling – and it still has more to teach me.
And as result, as I sit and write this post, I know things are challenging, that it’s going to be tough the next few weeks, that there’s lots of anxiety to come.
But at once, I’m somehow developing or discovering a deeper knowledge or wisdom.
That somehow, in ways yet unknown, I’m going to be fine.
All shall be well.