Every few years I tell myself that I’ve got the smarts to do whatever I want. A fundamental weakness born of whatever-you-will-blame keeps me from believing these admonishments but like a broken record, I tell myself over and over that I can succeed.
Yesterday, I helped another woman recognize her own mistakes. As we sat in the jury room talking about settlement of her divorce, my secretary and her daughter each flanked one of us. My client listened as I explained how much marital debt her soon-to-be-ex-husband had incurred on their behalf but paid down before separation. They lived beyond their means and now she’d have to shift some of her savings over to his to even out the take-away from their marriage. But at fifty-two and healthy, she’ll survive. In fact, she’s got a good credit rating and an excellent job with solid benefits. She might even thrive.
Just as long as she learns from her mistakes, that is. She said, I didn’t know what he was doing, he managed all the money. I replied, You’re a grown-ass woman, you should have paid attention! And her daughter laughed. In fact, we all chuckled, the younger ones with amusement at the slight naughtiness of my spontaneous sally. Her daughter waggled a finger towards my client, saying, “Like Ms. Corley said, Mama, you’re a grown-ass woman!”
As for myself, I held a mirror to my face and let the words bounce back on me. I’ve never managed money very well, and I’ve hidden behind my condemnation of myself. I neglect myself while urging others to take care. I get too thin, or gain weight. Exercise falls by the wayside. I go weeks without calling my siblings or the friends whose support sustains me.
Years ago, another client noticed my self-sabotage and called me out. I had just finished his divorce, arranging a joint parenting plan and funding a trust so his considerable assets would be available for his large brood as they matured. We had coffee to discuss the paperwork and I must have said something slightly self-deprecating. Perhaps he felt my chagrin at being who I am. I’m not sure what prompted his comment. But it rang true and I have not forgotten his observation. He put his coffee cup on the table, turned his bright gaze on me, and remarked, You’re the only thing standing between you and success.
He might have been dead-on. Maybe. Ya think?
And after all, I am a grown-ass woman. It’s time to act like it.
It’s the twentieth day of the forty-second month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.