I am seated at my kitchen table. It is a round vintage table from the 1950’s. I spent a lot of money on this table and every time I see it I think about that. It is 9:49am and I am dressed in a t-shirt, sweat pants, slippers and I have a blanket draped over my shoulders. My hair is a mess, my eyes are swollen, I feel lethargic and bleak and I did not even drink alcohol last night (I did have a pint in the afternoon). My wife just walked into the kitchen and asked me if I was “filled with the love of the universe.” I replied, “No I am filled with the dread and worry of the American dream.” Not so sure where that answer came from. I am about to eat a muffin and drink some green tea as this interview begins.
Interviewer: Good morning Randall.
Randall: Good morning.
Interviewer: Good morning.
Randall: Good morning.
Interviewer: Look I just want to apologize if you feel that the last few interviews have not gone so smoothly.
Randall: I appreciate your apology. I’m not feeling hung up about it at the moment. It is in the past.
Interviewer: Good I am glad to hear that. I will do what I can to make sure that this and following interviews are much more pleasant for the both of us.
Randall: Sounds good to me.
Interviewer: How are you feeling this morning?
Randall: I am ok but I suppose a bit grumpy. I did my thirty minute morning meditation and my mind was racing with all kinds of thoughts.
Interviewer: What kind of thoughts?
Randall: Well thoughts about my anger towards my parents, thoughts about my childhood and how much I have aged, thoughts about all the bills and economic worries I have, thoughts about my difficulty breathing in the mornings- all kinds of thoughts.
Interviewer: Do you mind if I delve a little deeper about some of these thoughts that you speak of.
[Randall eats his muffin and sips his green tea]
Interviewer: Do you still feel like you have a lot of anger towards your parents?
Randall: I do not know if it is a lot but it is in there and it comes up at various times. The anger that comes up seems to be more directed at my father.
Interviewer: And what are you angry with your father about?
Randall: It is hard for me to fully understand but I think I am angry at the way he has treated me all of my life. For me he was a monster while I was growing up and still to this day he gives me the creeps. I do not trust him and I never know if he is really trying hard to be nice to me or if it is an act. I am often very uncomfortable with my relationship with my father. I have all these past resentments that I feel never get resolved and I have current resentments towards how he shows up in my life even though I really don’t want him to show up anymore.
Interviewer: How does he show up in your life?
Randall: To be honest he plays a small roll. If I really need it he will throw money my way, I get a phone call once or twice every two weeks from him, which I admit I try and avoid. When we talk it is very superficial, uncomfortable and we both try and pretend like everything is ok. I know he is making an effort to be nicer, to be a better father but the problem is that I don’t feel like he takes much responsibility for what he has done to me nor does he acknowledge the pain that I live with that is a direct result of our relationship.
Interviewer: I also know that you are angry at him about money issues. Is this still true?
Randall: It is, as much as I would like to admit that it is not. I do feel that he is very greedy and selfish with his money and am resentful that he does not help me out more economically. You and I both know that I have a lot of worry about money. A lot of my self-worth issues revolve around money (I can thank my parents for this). I currently have a lot of economic worries and wish that he would help me out more instead of build his mansions in Idaho and take long vacations in China. I feel that some of that money can be put to better use (his children’s well-being) but this is not my parents priority. They feel that we should make it on our own, work hard and that economic struggle is a good thing. I think deep down they believe that if you do not work hard enough you are going to struggle economically. In their mind it all boils down to- I have earned my economic struggle because I don’t work hard enough. I don’t slave away at a job, so I have earned my economic struggle. My dad is a republican- what did expect?
Interviewer: But you also know that it is not a good idea for you to take money from your father. That taking his money in the long run can make your life much more stressful, unhealthy and it is not good for both of your relationship.
Randall: Yes, I am aware of this. I suppose I am resentful that my parents have allowed for money to become such a big issue between us. It just should not be that way. Money is there to make life easier not more difficult.
Interviewer: It seems to me that you are a bit confused by exactly why you are resentful or angry towards your father.
Randall: Hmmm. I suppose so. I suppose there is so much water under the bridge that it is challenging to sort it all out. Fundamentally I am resentful about the fact that he does not love me the way that I need to be loved, he does not meet my needs for trust, authenticity, safety, care. Ultimately he has made my life much more difficult than it has needed to be and I am resentful towards him for this. But I am an adult now and I am trying hard to let all of this go. To become independent of him and all the emotional garbage I carry around. I feel this will be a lifelong process.
Interviewer: Yes it will.
Interviewer: Well this brings me to wanting to know more about your economic worries. Can you tell me a bit about this?
Randall: Well this is complicated also. One thing that I have learned about myself is that when I have more money I feel much more confident and good about myself. When I sink below the economic worry line and start to feel like I do not have enough money and then feel like I need to rely on others for financial help I no longer feel so good about myself.
Interviewer: What do you feel like when you are in this economic red zone?
Randall: I feel like a failure. I feel embarrassed. I feel stuck. I feel like a loss of independence.
Interviewer: I see. This loss of independence must feel terrible.
Randall: It does. I also feel like others judge me because I am 41 and not in a position in life where I am making a lot of money.
Interviewer: Hmmm. I understand this.
Interviewer: But you have a nice life. You have your own house filled with beautiful furniture and a remarkable backyard. You have a wife who has a good amount of money and is willing to help you out. You have a beautiful dog, a nice car, a painting studio, computers, a refrigerator filled with delicious food- you really have it all.
Randall: Yeah in a sense I do and I appreciate you focusing my attention on these things but I suppose I am someone who looks at the glass as half empty. All these things that I own I can barely afford. I have never had more bills than I have at the moment. I also have financial aid loans that are over $80,000. My employment is not bringing in any money at the moment and I really have no idea how the hell I am going to afford my current lifestyle. All the good things that I have in my life just do not feel like enough to assuage my economic worry. What if I have car trouble or my dog gets ill? I have no idea how I am going to afford these things and that worries me. How am I going to pay my bills and have enough money to live? It is thoughts like these that run through my mind and yeah I am resentful that my parents are traveling around China in luxury when they could be doing more to help me out of this financial worry.
Interviewer: Yeah but you understand that you are trying to become independent from your parents, to separate yourself emotionally from them and if you take money from them it is damaging to you on so many levels.
Randall: I know. I know but why do they have to be so fucked up around money?
Interviewer: The American dream does this to the best of us.
Interviewer: Look, it is just the way it is. It is not that they are bad people- it is just what they have learned from their parents and it is who they are. You need to accept that they are not going to change. They have their karma to live out and you have yours. Don’t allow their karma to mess up your karma more than it already has.
Randall: I am working on this. Do you know that when I got married my wife’s parents spent way over 40 grand on the wedding and my parents gave no more than a thousand dollars towards our wedding?
Interviewer: Be happy they gave anything at all.
Randall: I know but it just does not sit well with me. If they had no money it would not bother me but because they have so much and give so little it just feels selfish.
Interviewer: I understand but don’t let their negative karma become yours. You need to find ways to let go of your anger and resentment towards your parents before it corrupts any more of your life.
Randall: Yeah I know. I am working on it. I have been working on it for years. I try to be kind to my parents, be there for them and be a good son- but it is tough when I have all this rage towards them. I know I need to let it all go and trust that if I do let go- things will work out. It helps talking with you about all of this.
Interviewer: Good I am glad it helps. I am glad that you trust me enough to be so honest and open with me. It always amazes me just how much power a parent has over the life of their children. Unfortunately most parents are not aware of how their behavior affects their children and as a result generation after generation passes down these emotional wounds. You can look at it as a kind of inheritance.
Randall: That is a bleak thought.
Interviewer: I know but the only way to disown your negative emotional and psychological inheritance is to distance yourself emotionally and financially as much as you can from your parents and also to continue to work on yourself and cultivate the qualities you needed from your father and mother but never got. Be generous, be honest, be loving, be kind, be grateful.
Randall: Yes. Thank you for the reminder.
Interviewer: Not a problem. I think that pretty much wraps up our interview for now. I know it was a rather serious interview but I hope it was helpful.
Randall: It was. I enjoyed this interview much more than the last two.
Interviewer: Good I am glad. Well have a pleasant, worry free day and go get dressed. You look terrible.
Randall: (giggling) I will.