Sylvia's writing to freedom

Money and I, a hate love relationship (part 1) 02/01/2011

Since Cenk’s video series and Viktor’s digging as well into his relationship with money I started to look at my own life. What role did money play in my life?

I was born into a family where my dad worked for a small company that was selling construction materials and my mom was a housewife and mother for the first time in her life. She worked before in a shop, but after she got married this wasn’t appropriate anymore. My dad was born 2 years before the Second World War started and my mom was born when Holland was liberated from the Germans by the Americans. They both grew up in the reconstruction period after the war. People in Holland started to gain welfare again and when my parents got married they were proud on the furniture they could buy for their rental apartment. Due to the job my dad had they had to move from the east to the west of Holland, only a 2 hour drive, but for Dutch people an almost impossible distance to overcome. They bought a car, a volkwagen beetle, to travel every weekend to the east of Holland to visit their parents. They had the money so they were supposed to do so.

When I was 3 years old my dad got unemployed due to bad management of his boss and the company went bankrupt. Lucky enough they received welfare, but my dad always tells me how humiliating that period was for him. I was too small to understand what was happening. Due to the welfare we didn’t had to move out of the apartment, but my mom learned to be creative with little money. Within a year my dad had a new job and when I was 4 my little brother was born.

Then we began to move through the country, every time my dad got a financially better job we moved. We as kids learned that it was okay to move your family around and ripp them out of their reality every time my dad had a prosperity to more money. I ended up in life as a compulsive city hopper, after a year living somewhere I got really restless and wanted to leave the life that I lived and move on to another place. I didn’t move because of money, I moved out of not willing to face  myself within the life I lived. Whenever I felt discomfort I started planning to move. I never asked my dad if besides money there were also other reasons to pick up his life and start over again.

When I grew up there was always sufficient money from the jobs my dad had. My mom on the other hand kept spending the money as if she was still in this period where my dad was on welfare. So they saved up quite some money and were capable of building their own house twice in heir life’s. Although there was money enough and I had expensive clothes and enough toys to play with, it always felt as if there wasn’t enough money due to my moms relationship with money. My brother expressed once, as a grown up, that he felt shortchanged by my parents when it came to money. I never experienced it that way, which is a fascinating point since we had the same upbringing within the same family. Already at a young age my brother was obsessed with money, I recall that family members send him birthday cards with pictures of money on it. My brother studied economics and works now for Shell where he has made a nice career if it comes to money.

As a child I saved up money to buy the things I liked, I saved up for quite a while till the moment was there to buy something practical I longed for. I remember that counting the money to see if I had saved up enough was important and that gave me a certain attachment to the money, whenever I spend the money the attachment was gone and I couldn’t care less about this money. Money wasn’t real for me as a child, only the means to get what I wanted.

I decided to study Art and I couldn’t care less if that was going to support me financially or not. When I moved out of my parents house to study and live on my own the Ministry of Education forgot to give me study funding. I was simply not included in their system and I had to borrow money from my parents to buy food, pay the rent and school suppliance. I felt really awkward for spending their money and lived on the most minimum possible as I had learned from my mom in the past.

At a certain point I did worry about making a living as an artist and justified changing my study with being able to make myself a living, just as my dad did with moving around constantly for a better job. So I switched studies a few times. Money was an issue for changing studies and also the fact that I wanted to proof the world that I was intelligent, therefore I kept searching for studies that satisfied me within this desire. My little brother was seen as highly intelligent and I was just his sister. My brother told me constantly how dumb he thought I was, my parents gave me the impression that I wasn’t as smart as their son. So I wanted to proof myself and let my choice for a profession depend on wether it was a profession that was seen by the system as successful. I became a social worker and felt needed by the system, it was like the ultimate wet dream. I got well paid for being needed and seen as a good person at the same time.

While studying the state funding wasn’t enough to live from so I had several jobs along my study. I peeled tulip bulbs, I was a receptionist in the weekends at the company where my dad was the boss, I sewed and repaired tents, I made a 1,80m high sculpture, I sorted out frozen strawberries on an assembly line, I sold on the phone vegetables to supermarkets for a large supermarket chain, I cleaned the interior of KLM airplanes and I worked in an old peoples home, served their dinner and washed the dishes. Except for making the sculpture I didn’t like the jobs I did, it was the money that motivated me to do jobs I normally not would have done. For money I was able to suppress my feelings about these jobs, but most of the jobs didn’t last for long. I wasn’t able to put money first to the feelings and reactions I had to the jobs I did. Although money did determine the search for another lousy job to survive within the system.

To be continued…


One Response to “Money and I, a hate love relationship (part 1)”

  1. Valentin Rozman Says:

    Thanks for sharing your life story, Sylvia!

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