Monday, September 29, 2008

Just When I Think I Have a Handle on All of This

Something crops up to totally undermine my fiscal self esteem. Big Sigh, I hate that feeling. I really do.

Like most people, I have my issues. Feeling insecure about myself when I'm feeling down is one of them. I let those nagging horrible feelings come through and surface in my mind and I play my own set of head games until I can snap out of it and "get a grip". This weekend was one of those head game weekends.

I visited some of my cousins I've not seen in ages. Like ten years plus. They only live 2 hours away, but it could be 20, our paths just don't cross that often. This past weekend I made an effort to touch base with them. And it cost me my sanity for most of yesterday.

It goes without saying that the Bankruptcy was more than a little hiccup in my life. Compounded by other personal and professional non successes last year made for a really crummy 2007 for me. 2008 is getting better, but it's by no means outstanding, but definitely better than 2007.

Fast forward to dinner yesterday afternoon. I'm sitting at the table listening to my cousins talk about homes, jobs, kids, trips, hobbies, and it all sounds so much better than my life. Almost without exception, my cousins are married or partnered up, own their own homes, have successful jobs, own successful businesses, and their kids are nice, well mannered, smart, bright kids. They really are. In one respect I'm very proud of my family. We are second and third generation immigrant offspring and they have lived the American dream. My grandparents came to this country with $30 in their pocket and knew no one. They raised 4 kids and supported and sponsored literally dozens of other relatives who made that trans Atlantic crossing to Ellis Island. The conversation was not about one upping one another, it was a passing of information on to the cousin who has done her own thing for so long and to get me back up to speed on the family. I'm pretty certain too that they don't have a ton of credit card debt or have faced bankruptcy either. Not 100% sure, but pretty certain. I felt like I had been left in the dust of my go getting relatives.

It's just tough for me to see what they have accomplished and for me to wonder why I can not or have not been able to compete (for lack or a better term) on the same level they have. I live in a shoe box house with bad flooring and a funky roof leak, they live in lovely suburban homes with hardwood floors, and granite and cherry kithens, they have family Sundays, I have Sundays at the laudromat. They have trips to Tuscany each year (rent a villa for 2 weeks), I had a trip to Canada for someone else's family party.

Maybe it is comparing apples and oranges, and usually I'm pleased for other folks who are able to do these lovely and fabulous things. This time, I really felt like the poor relative. I just felt out of touch and out of step with what the rest of the family has done.

I really hate those feelings...

7 comments:

Dawn said...

Just remember - they aren't bringing up a lot of the "bad things." They probably have a lot of their own issues - no one is immune. Maybe it isn't money, but maybe what looks like a perfect marriage is two people who hate each other - the point is, you just don't know. Even amount family we are so scared to display our "dirty laundry." I was shocked at how many people confessed their money problems when I started talking about mine - people I would have never guessed.

Shevy said...

I`d actually be surprised if they don`t have at least a fair amount of credit card debt. They`d be pretty unusual if they didn`t (not a good commentary on life in North America, but true).

Ugly Debty said...

I agree with Dawn and Shevy - you never know exactly how much debt another person is in. Those trips to Tuscany might all be on credit - you never know.

Azalea said...

Comparing oneself to others is not something that only you do - I do it, and everyone else I know does it - it is after all the human thing to do. But my wish for you is that you will not let your counsins' successes reflect your failures, and that you will not need to focus on their failures to feel good about your successes. I feel that all the commenters above have been quick to do that, and I wanted to offer you my support in a different way. I daresay your cousins are living a perfect life, and everything that is going on for them is positive. But I also want you Betty, to think about all the movement towards the positive you have made in your own life and to be able to be proud of yourself regardless of how your cousins are doing. I've been a reader of your blog for some time now, and I think what you are doing is fabulous and I don't doubt that you will eventually be able to create your own version of the perfect life for yourself.

CindyS said...

It's true that people talk about what they have and not how far in debt they are from getting it. Most people have far more credit card debt than you would think and then you add in mortgages and car payments... Just the stress of knowing that I owed that much money would kill me. Don't be so hard on yourself. Look at how far you have come.

Grace. said...

Ah jealousy! Especially intra-familial jealousy! I know just how you feel. But to have their money (assuming for the moment that you actually KNOW their financial situation and you're correct that they don't have debt) you'd also have to have their marriages, their jobs, their health and their lives. Don't be so sure that such a trade would be worth it.

Bouncing Back said...

Thanks to everyone for reminding me that all may not be as good it seems. It's easy to forget that fact! I've been away from the relatives for a number of years, and thus lack a certain insight that comes from being with them during that time frame.

Thanks for the comments!