Money may not buy you love, but it sure helps you to escape when love affairs die.
I once lived with a raging alcoholic. He wasn’t violent or abusive or mean. He was just a regular, pass out on the floor, piss in the bed drunk. He drank six days a week, and spent the seventh day recovering his hangover.
I lasted almost a year. And the only reason I lasted that long is because on that seventh day of sober hangover, he was sweet…and incredibly sexy.
But a single day a week of sweet and sexy, watching TV in bed all day does not a fun relationship make. I spent that year fantasizing the different ways I could leave. My fantasies got pretty detailed – I’d pack up just my necessities and drive away in the middle of the night (or afternoon) while he was laying in a pool of his own piss. I’d drive south toward the warm weather, and park when I got to, say, Louisiana. Maybe New Orleans. I’d find a cozy little studio and not tell anyone where I was (except work). I had my emergency fund, and that would be enough for a first-and-last deposit on an apartment, as well as gas money to get all the way south. It would be easy, really.
That situation eventually resolved itself. But as life does, I continue to have flashes of stress and every once in a while I revive my running-away fantasy. I keep my emergency fund healthy – not just because the personal finance blogs say so, but also for my own secret escape reasons.
Sometimes I stop and let myself fully feel gratitude course though my body: I can escape if I want to. I could have when escape was a more likely outcome. I had and have the money to leave. Leaving would be insanely simple for me. I don’t have kids, no lingering bills to split. I don’t rely on anyone for anything material. A lot of people, a lot of women, aren’t so lucky. For a lot of women, whose partner problems are more dangerous than a mattress soggy with piss, escape is prohibitively expensive. Escape is possible only via shelters, or friends, or family, and even then, that may not be far enough away to escape the problem.
When Thanksgiving rolls around each year, at whoever’s table I am at, when it becomes my turn to say what I’m grateful for, what I say out loud and what I say in my head are two different things. Out loud, I’ll say something earnest, like I’m grateful to be with my host, or I’ll say something funny, like I’m grateful for chocolate. But in my head, I admit what I’m actually grateful for: I am grateful for my ability to earn my own money and support myself, I am grateful for my emergency fund, and my ability to build one, I am grateful for having the money to be fully autonomous. I am grateful for being in my situations because I want to be, not because I need to be.
PS. I’ve known women who have needed to escape dangerous relationships when they didn’t have money. I’m thinking fondly of them today, and providing links for others who might be in that same situation