SNAP: Stories for Living

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Story #24 – THE CURRENCY OF EXCHANGE:

Love is the Answer

Sometimes therapy and psychoanalysis can be seen as understanding events on deeper and deeper emotional levels as the denial peals away and the dynamics become apparent. For example, I knew my therapist was pleased with herself when she made the pun that money and stocks are the “currency of exchange,” so to speak, in my family.

When she first said it, I understood the pun on a basic level of that we discuss weather and stocks/money as a way to get into a big argument. Over time, I got to “see” deeper levels of significance. For example, I would realize that my debates with her over my belief in value investing a la Warren Buffet vs. my mother’s additional strong emphasis on making a quick buck on momentum was about how to view life. I would argue that true value will win out in the long term and my mother would counter with some form of follow the herd or you will get left behind what society judges.

This also helps clarify what would otherwise be cryptic, yet very familiar messages. For example, I would often get telephone messages from my mother like:

“Hi Svenny-ducks, it’s your mother, I just wanted to let you know that your Mobil [stock] is up 30% and I bought you a little Elan [stock], an Irish maker of drug delivery systems. All right, bye bye.”

Translation:

Money is a huge deal to me as my crazy alcoholic father was so reckless that he even shot and killed a man once by “mistake.” Though he did not serve jail time as he was not criminally convicted, we were sued civilly and therefore had no money at all. Without love in my life as a source of stability, money became the measure of all things as it represents safety in my tumultuous childhood. I want you to know that I am loving you by providing you with money/safety as it is so important to me and by calling you by an embarrassing name as a token of affection. Unfortunately, I can’t say I love you as no one said it to me in my family and it would make me uncomfortable to even say it to you now. This discomfort comes as I defend against any recognition of how sad that is with anxiety which causes me to end this message abruptly. Love, your mother.

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