My intention with sharing my story is to create an opening for women to rise and be free from the patriarchal conditioning that many of us have grown up with regarding money and sex. I believe this freedom opens the possibility for happier marriages, healthier families, satisfying work environments and all-around personal development. In short it would be good for everybody. With 50% of marriages failing in the first 3 years due to money fights, 28% of woman suffering from deep anxiety over money and survival, and an even higher number ill prepared for retirement this is a conversation worth having.
Born in 1966 I grew up when female independence was more of an aspiration than a reality. In those times equal pay, career advancement and business ownership were being fought for along with birth control pills and active duty in the military. It was not the standard yet and had a long way to go.
As a little girl I was entrained in the romantic idea that some man was going to take care of me. In my family that man was my father. This was both a blessing and a curse. Throughout my life I felt I always had someone to rely on. At the same time this support allowed me to become less developed in the area of self-reliance and independence. At a time when society was beginning to encourage women to be independent my family was living in an old paradigm.
Dad worked for the space industry as a nuclear engineer. He was also a Colonel in the army and day trader of stocks. Mom never balanced a checkbook in her life. Dad kept her in the dark about money and she didn’t seem to mind. There was a lot of manipulation around money. My mom trained me to look good, be sexy and attract material possessions. This was a sign of status.
I left home when I was 16 years old. I worked hard my whole life for money, yet I always lived beyond my means. I owned a house but couldn’t afford the maintenance. I was a single mom teaching yoga. There was never enough money it seemed. Deep down inside I felt unequipped and incapable of expanding my worth in my field. I found myself relying on my Dad for support all while dreaming to find some man to come into my life and take care of me. I fell in and out of love. I crashed, I burned, I got resigned, I got sick, I got lazy. I withdrew to heal and reinvent myself. When I ventured back out into the world, I started dancing tango. That’s when I met my husband-to-be. Each of us were at low points in our lives when we met but somehow, we stayed together through the ups and downs and eventually got married.
When we met, I was still living with a deep fear that if I don’t have money I will die. Money is my inspiration. I’ve been entitled with the support of my Dad and poor at the same time. The support started to feel more like a trap than a source of freedom.
I was wary about my financial future. My lack of trust in my financial capabilities caused me to bring into question a female’s primal urge to get with a man who is going to increase her worth. This became the central inquiry of my life.
Dad got sick in the summer of 2016. We were told the news of his imminent death a few months after Peter and I got married. Dad died New Year’s Eve 2016 while I slept by his bed. All the financial help I had been receiving stopped. The time to reconcile my Money Story had come.
The slow suicide of negative thoughts and emotions I had been putting myself through got worse. I injured my hip and could not move forward because walking was difficult. My marriage suffered as well. I projected my pain on to my husband which caused sex to stop, intimacy stopped, adventure and enjoying each other became rare occurrences. My money started dwindling. The feeling of being trapped grew stronger. Guidance was needed on how to disappear my money trap. When you sweep important relationships under the carpet, such as one’s relationship to money, then you decide to change the carpet you are walking on, you become faced with a lot of stuff underneath which needs to be cleaned up. This was the situation I was faced with as my inquiry continued.
I had to create a new environment for myself in order to move through this, so I went into partnership with my husband on a house about 45 miles South of the big city of San Francisco. After much soul-searching I moved from my home of 25 years in Applegate which sold February 2018.
The inquiry was painful. The demons came out. Historical memories of family fights over money, threats that if we didn’t behave, we would be taken out of the will. Dad acted poor and mom acted wealthy. Do we, or don’t we have money was how things occurred to me. A dichotomy.
Then one day the big highlight moment hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized how my sexuality was tied to my money story. What I thought was sexual freedom began to feel more like prostituting myself to get my needs met. I could see that this way of being was influenced by family, ancestral, and cultural conditioning.
Mom and Dad had vulgar language and fights often over money. Money was used as a physical, mental and emotional weapon. I assumed that they believed a woman’s purpose in life was to use sex to get money. This caused a great tear in my heart. Our culture promotes this too, in the media, in the workplace. I had a deep-seated belief that money was power and would solve my problems, but it was so darn hard to get! It was this habitual way of thinking about money that created the stories I held tightly in my head. I realized I didn’t want to follow this path, so I set out to clear the dichotomy. My awareness about my relationship to money expanded the more proactive and responsible I became.
I took the stories about money out of my head and got straight with them on paper. To make it real and to transform my negative thoughts about what money means to me I had to change my conversations about money; with my husband, my clients, my family. I took responsibility for every penny earned and every penny spent. My debts were self-imposed by me and only me.
When I realized my attitude toward money dictated how money occurred to me, I saw that I had more power than I thought. I have the power to have integrity with the promises I’ve made regarding money. I can honor the relationships I have with banks, creditors, clients, and wherever there is a money exchange. I began nurturing these relationships with love and healing. I made a game out of money by seeing how I could bring money into existence with my words. I began to speak FOR money rather that AGAINST it. I empowered others to have positive conversations regarding money and process disempowering conversations with skilled mentors, coaches and friends.
By far the most lasting effects are between me and my husband. I no longer hold him responsible for my money story. We create together as we each hold the handle of our own money bucket. The ground we walk on together has been swept and cleaned. Together we are prepared to lay down that new carpet free of unwanted dust and particles underneath. Now there is space for real connection and unadulterated love.
Karen Barbarick-Collins is a Certified Ayurvedic Technician and Registered Yoga Alliance Teacher. She is the founder of Bending Blade Healing Arts.