It's what we work for. What we need to provide for our families. Not having enough of it keeps us awake at night. Having too much is a dream. Sometimes we take it for granted. Disrespect it, even gamble with it. And these days, it doesn't come easy.
When I was a stripper, I made great money. I lived in a luxury high rise apartment sporting panoramic views of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean. Waikiki was the backdrop to a lifestyle I milked with every VIP pass and full moon limousine ride. I took taxis, enjoyed monthly facials, weekly massages with manicures, and hundred dollar haircuts.
I wasn't kidding about the limo rides. I had a driver named James on retainer for monthly full moon excursions around the island. My friends could set their watches by James pulling up to the club at 4:00 am,
and in addition to a handful of strays, we'd sip champagne and act the Rock Star Stripper Posse until sunrise. James was paid well, and never complained once about standing by while we skinny dipped in the warm glow of the Hawaiian sunrise. Go figure.
But I still wasn't happy.
Did I have blissful moments wrapped in laughter and comfort? Yes. Was my life one big party, full of excess and adventure? You betcha. I was also living on a hamster wheel full of denial, self-loathing and warped sense of security; my drug use perpetuating the mastery of camouflage.
No amount of money would change the fact that even I wasn’t fully aware of how far I was falling.
The older I get, the more I find myself nodding in agreement to age old phrases like "you get what you pay for" and "money doesn't buy happiness". Far be it for my twenty-something brain to realize - you really do and, it really doesn’t.
Here's the thing about clichés – they exist because there’s considerable weight to their words.
When I was raking it in, I really did get what I paid for. I welcomed a life of escape and fascination, not realizing then that I was forking over top dollars to anesthetize my pain. I was able to numb myself from what I needed to work through by creating chaos of grand proportions.
Ten years in to my rock star lifestyle, I realized something. I was creating more darkness with my unhealthy choices, which then compounded to the pile of shit I already needed to deal with.
Nothing was going to make me happy, if I wasn't happy with myself.
There is a woman I see at the office every day, and she is never without a smile. Sometimes I catch her humming a tune or even whistling as she pulls her cleaning supply cart. We greet one another with a smile in the ladies room as she refills the paper towels. She is a lovely reminder that you don't need wealth to be happy.
As for me, I live paycheck to paycheck now. I recently parted ways with Kevin and I'm back on my own. There's nothing fancy about my home, and I certainly haven't been in a limo for a while. I see a therapist regularly and she's helping me on my journey to my most authentic self (how very Oprah). I am working through my childhood traumas and learning to love everything about me, flaws and all - because that's what's real.
Do I wish my purse strings weren't as tight these days, and kick myself for not saving my money when it was free flowing on stage? Absolutely. But my life is progressing exactly how it's supposed to. I am still here after two overdoses, not to mention countless choices I've made to put myself in harms way. My guardian angel is the coolest, and I owe her at least nine of my lives. You just can't put a price tag on that.
“Money alone isn't enough to bring happiness . . . happiness is when you're actually truly ok with losing everything you have.” ~ Tony Hsieh