There was a man I got involved with briefly a few months after my marriage ended. It was an intense little affair – someone I’d known when we were teenagers.
Fooling around on my couch, kissing as though we were young people rushing yet tentative before the parents come home, I felt a safety in his hands, as though these hands that had known me in an early fragile stage of my life, that came from my city, my culture, my race – all the external trappings I rarely seem to choose – offered a refuge of familiarity and rest from wandering the world alone and penniless, forever entangled in hopelessly inappropriate relationships.handsThen, a few weeks in, I had a dream, a nightmare, of hands reaching up to pull me down into a kind of quicksand – hands coming up out of the earth to pull me under to my doom. Somehow in an omniscient voice or spirit of the dream, it had something to do with Money.
Dreams are often so hard to understand at the time they come – they can speak in cryptic symbolic language, or other times in urgent clear imagery, and untangling which is which is often only possible in hindsight. I didn’t know what to make of these hands pulling me down in the dream, from whence they came, who or what they represented.
Still, I try to listen to dreams, do my best to follow their mysterious, oblique guidance. And I remembered this one for future reference.
The affair with the man developed, and on an afternoon walk in a park, up a hill with a view, we stood at the top and he wrapped his arms around me from behind. For a moment there in his arms an image flashed in my mind of hills elsewhere, as if we would climb many hills and stand just so, looking out at many vistas together….
But things got weird. He would dangle his success in business – his Money – in front of me as though I were a dog and it was a bone. Would talk about wanting to take care of me, the creative girl, or how if I were with him I would be provided for so handsomely, with an allowance beyond whatever I thought I needed – an image offering such enormous relief after so many years of struggling, I was drawn in even though it felt off-kilter.
One time he even sent me a photo of a roll of bills –billsIt was odd, this constant reference to Money. Was it a blustery cover for some kind of insecurity, I wondered?
I am not a gold digger by nature – in fact, the opposite. The experience of money in my family taught me early to flee the path oriented to material success above all else and seek out instead a life of bohemia, creativity, authenticity. My mother came from people with money and they used it to manipulate and punish her in various cold and cruel ways, so the mythology around wealth in my mind was the classic “root of all evil”.
But eschewing money has pretty serious drawbacks. Duh. You can end up, like me, a broke single mom.
So as I’ve been trying to remedy my relationship with money, I’m finding a consistent theme within all of the literature and courses and financial therapies – they ask you to identify your underlying attitude to wealth. And if your basic beliefs are that people with money are cruel and controlling, that financial success means a shrivelled cold heart, well then it may be time to adjust those deep-seated attitudes, it may be time to believe that it’s possible to be successful without sacrificing all human warmth and integrity.alleyway heartSo.
Last night I dreamt I murdered my grandmother and buried her. A rather grisly dream that doesn’t seem at first blush to offer much in the way of either warmth or integrity, but when mulling it over this morning, remembering the controlling cruelty of my grandmother who died many years ago, I got interested in the idea of it speaking to an end of this twisted approach to finances, to burying the belief that money and evil are inevitably bound together. I got interested in the idea of being able to end an intergenerational dysfunction around money and finding a way to believe that some material comfort does not necessarily mean the end of creativity or authenticity.
Lofty goals, I suppose, but presumably the way forward. Changing a belief system is not a small task, but believing that success, even as a creative person, is not impossible, and believing that any material wealth is not totally irreconcilable with openness, kindness, playfulness, is…..perhaps simple-minded, but still, an idea worth pursuing.
Oh, and the man? The man with the hands?
Last time I saw him, when he placed his hands on me, I knew, I felt viscerally, that those hands did not actually offer me any safety or refuge or love at all, that any illusions of such were my own projections, that the dangling of money and care and provision in front of my nose was simply a manipulative ploy, that being strung along with various false promises was pulling me down into quicksand.
But, whatever. I am grateful for the lessons along the way.

14 thoughts on “Hands”

  1. For some reason, even though this is dated March it has just appeared in my mailbox. I’m glad it did. What a beautiful story, told so evocatively. I am familiar with those ancestral patterns that get passed down–no one knows when it started but still it continues to reverberate. I’d love to know if you did finally managed to dig up the pattern at its root.

    1. Diahann, thank you! Yes, it is an old post – I’d trashed it months ago, and just resuscitated it cause I like it too, the way the dreams and the themes come together…
      The ancestral / tribal money thing I am still working very hard on. Recently a friend said to me, “you have a lot of wounds around money”, and certainly that seems to show itself in my daily life. But it’s one of those things that’s so hard to see, and to really get to the root of, and to be able to change.
      Of the many books I’ve been looking at, my favourite so far is: Your Money or Your Life, but it is more about becoming conscious of how money comes in and out of your life, and less about deep ancestral goop.
      Are your ancestral patterns around money, or something else?

    1. There’s an extreme cynicism to it, hey?
      Things must have quieted down by now in your town – guess the discussions in the coffee shops will go on for years, decades…

      1. Actually no one’s talking about. The only way you can handle such a blow is to laugh about it. The one saving grace was Argentina not winning. If that had happened we might have gone to war 😉

    1. You know B, I find I often write about money, then go back and delete things. It’s one of those things you’re not supposed to talk about. But sometimes I think maybe precisely for that reason, I should talk about it… I guess I just wish I were at the other side of some lesson being learned maybe – like if I’d figured it all out, THEN it would be okay to talk about.

  2. I don’t have an easy relationship with money. It’s just a tool, I know but…. It is also power. How one wields power makes all the difference between an asshole (did I say that? really? It’s JZ’s fault!) and a human being who happens to have more than most.
    It woud be interesting to see if negative attitudes towards money fall along cultural or religious lines.
    Good to see you back here. 🙂

    1. “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God…”
      It isn’t just my family, really, it’s a pretty deep and long-standing concept.
      I’m told there are people with money who don’t use it as a means to control others, and are lovely to be around and so on.
      I’m looking forward to meeting some of those people…. 🙂

  3. Hey Kath, I loved this one and so happy you reposted it. The signs and messages in dreams have been fascinating me these past 2/3 years. Just because I didn’t think much of them before but now they seem to have a note for me. I too needed to reevaluate my relationship with money. Thanks for your honesty and insight. Much love always 🙂

    1. One of my favourite stories I heard was about a guy who, after couch-surfing and living in his car, started to write love letters to money, and is now living well- he worked it out.

Please, make your mark -

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.