I learned quickly that we had a lot more peace in our home if I was judicious with how much information I shared with my husband. I knew what would upset him and what he didn’t really need to know. I could buy all kinds of things and he wouldn’t notice. I figured out ways to do things that would create the least volatility.

Our differences became very clear during those first years. For example he was vehemently opposed–do you hear me when I say vehemently?– to spending more than we made, to bouncing checks and to revolving debt. I participated in all three. I had to because we simply did not make enough money to pay for everything we needed plus all of our regular expenses.

When Harold attempted to restrict my spending I was resentful. To me he was sending mixed messages. On the one hand he asked me to marry him, he promised to love me and to share his life. To me that meant to protect, provide and nourish, too. Of course he didn’t have a clue about that thing inside of me so driven to be rich, but it was very real. And each time he tried to squelch it, inwardly I rebelled. Buying things and spending money, even if I didn’t actually have cash, gave me feelings of power and prestige. I felt equal to those I admired and superior to those I pitied.

I began collecting credit cards in the same way kids collect baseball cards, for sport.

I began collecting credit cards in the same way kids collect baseball cards, for sport. I didn’t really plan to use them, but things came up and I felt I had no other choice. Paying the full balances every month just wasn’t happening. Harold had to resort to making minimum payments. But the cumulative payments depleted our cash flow so severely, using the cards regularly and allowing the balances to grow became the norm where once it had been the exception. Harold hated it and I hated hearing about it. Every time he gave me a little talking to about our tenuous financial situation I felt small and diminished–like I’d been called to the principal’s office or lectured by my father. I would always repent; promise to do better–whatever I had to do to bring the conversation to a quick conclusion.

I had promises to keep, plans to work. My happiness had always hinged on becoming rich. Now I was grown up. I’d done everything right. I graduated from college, I married well, I went to church, I worked very hard, I was a good person. I could not bear the thought of this not turning out right. It had to work. I’d do better. I’d make more money. I’d join another multi-level marketing company. I’d be the best, climb to the top. I’d start my own business. I’d start five businesses. I had to be rich. The more I had the more I wanted. Nothing satisfied for long and more was never enough.

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