I wanted to write to you today about open enrollment. However, I'm feeling drawn to write about something much, much more personal. It's a very tragic and terrifying story, so if you're a very sensitive person, please don't continue reading.
I became a coach for many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is because I have a few women in my life that could've made different decisions in life, if it weren't for money. I'm going to tell you about one of them. However, I have changed details about this story, to protect some people.
First, let me call her Alice. Alice was an incredibly beautiful 15 year old, who was sold to a brothel by her father in 1965. He just dropped her off one day, telling her that she now had to help her family by working there. Alice was a dutiful daughter and did what she was told.
When she was about 18, she met John (we'll call him that, since he was a literal John). He felt different to her. He seemed sweeter, kinder, bringing her little gifts whenever he would visit. The two would talk about a future together, and it wasn't just about the transaction.
One day, John started promising Alice he would take her away from the brothel. He gave her hope that the two would get married and start a family. In this time together, she wasn't as careful as she normally would be.
Months went by, and she started to see her belly grow. It became harder and harder to hide her pregnancy, and she would soon not be able to work. John visited less frequently, but Alice wouldn't give up her dreams. She wrote to him, begging to see him and to keep up his promises.
When Alice had her baby girl, John stopped visiting altogether, although he would send money to her every now and then, keeping her hopes alive.
Five years would go by, and John stopped even sending money. Alice's letters were getting returned one by one. One night, out of desperation, madness or both, Alice set herself on fire.
While her flesh burned, her five-year-old daughter cried out, "Mommy! Please don't die. I need you." With a mother's intuition kicking in, Alice stopped the fire and called an ambulance. She did not die that day, but about 90% of her body was badly burned.
The year her daughter turned 19, Alice passed away. I don't have any confirmation that she took her own life, but it would appear that way, and it isn't a coincidence that she waited until her daughter had a job, so she could take care of herself and her grandmother.
When I met Alice a few years before she died, she had no eyebrows and no fingernails, and the burn markings still covered her body and her head. Although I was just a teenager, I tried to gently coax her into some sort of understanding. However, in-between moments of sanity and knowing she had to release her love, sadness and anger towards John, I remember flashes of delusions lingering behind those dark unframed eyes. She mentioned her daughter finding John years later, seeking answers for herself and for the shell of a woman that was her mother. John coldly told her that she must've found the wrong person and that he's always had a wife and children, even during the years he had "supposedly" gone to this brothel regularly. Although Alice knew 100% that John had lied to her all those years ago, she still couldn't help holding onto a love that she felt, a love that she knew had to exist because if it all weren't true, wouldn't that make her life a complete lie?! Eventually, even knowing the truth did not take away her pain and longing, and she released her love, sadness and anger in the only way she knew how...through death.
I wanted to share this story, not to bum you out. I share this story because I want people to start seeing money in a different way. If it weren't for money, Alice's father would not have sold her to a brothel. If it weren't for the money, Alice wouldn't have held onto the hope that this man still loved her. If it weren't for money and her maternal duty to take care of her daughter, she would've taken her own life much earlier. Money doesn't equal happiness, and money can create issues if you give it the power to do so. However, money is a very real part of everyday life, and that's why it's so important to create balance with your money. What I want for each and every one of you is to have money for a rainy day or for the day when you need to walk away from a bad situation. Virginia Woolf wrote about A Room of One's Own...I'm writing you today about making sure you have Money of One's Own. Leave me a comment to tell me your thoughts, and let me know if you would like to talk, for free, about how to build a little nest egg for yourself and to feel more free to make empowered decisions. Sign up here. Or send me an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
With so much gratitude and Love,