“Poor little rich girl!” my mother said to me the other day. It was in jest, we were talking about the gap between my princess-type personality and my income. I’m not going to lie, it’s difficult to grow up a certain way and be afforded certain privileges and not even realize it, and then not have that same type of bank account in adulthood.

That is just the thing. I never knew that my family was in the upper middle class. No, not the elite, not extreme wealth, but enough to have a nice home in the suburbs, a summer home in New England, a car on my 16th birthday, a pool and hot tub that were the envy of the neighborhood, a paid-for college education, and plenty more where that came from.

But I didn’t feel rich. I felt normal. I did not judge the way anyone else lived, whether in a bigger or smaller house, I did not even really pay attention to it. I did not judge what kind of cars people drove, or if they had a bigger boat. It didn’t matter. It just was.

Until it was lost. Skip ahead a couple of decades when I found out that that my six-figure income IT executive husband at the time had gambled away our entire life behind my back. It’s not an uncommon story, and shit happens. But for the first time in my life I realized that I had money. And lost it.

The reality of that sunk in when my now ex-husband – who swore on his life he would provide for me and our children forever if I just granted him a divorce – lied. Lying comes naturally for a gambler, and they don’t even realize they are doing it. They believe their own lies, whatever those are in the moment. But this isn’t about that. This is about how it feels to realize that you are on your own financially for the first time in your life, and you have gone from the haves to the have nots. It’s painful.

That actually sounds petty in a way because the old adage “money isn’t everything but it helps,” is true. Money really isn’t everything. I know that now after marrying the man I have been connected to forever, in ways beyond understanding. I know unconditional love now, and I love it. And with our bond and union, money doesn’t matter. That’s not to say there isn’t conflict outside of our magic bubble, there are dragons in our midst who try to rape us of our financial security, what little there is.

But it isn’t those dragons that get us. It’s the haunting of my own.

Sir Husband and I were sitting on our special little rocky beach where we disappear together and collect sea glass as often as we can. It’s a tiny inlet a couple of miles from us, almost private in its location, at the end of a winding dirt road through a forrest of tall trees. The giant rock formations make a great place to sit and watch the sea, and a long  dock extends out for dinghies to moor, or for a little jump into cold water on a hot day.

But this day the inlet had a small crowd. A few families with kids and dogs and beach chairs were scattered around the pebbles. The late afternoon sun was so bright that the glare off the water almost hurt my eyes. Sir Husband was busy looking for sea glass, but I stopped when I noticed what was going on. It was that time of day when big boats sailed up to the floating dock and parked, to pick up the families on the shore. It became clear to me after the third one rolled in and stopped long enough for beach goers to grab their things and walk out on the dock to their boats, get in, and sail or motor away.

It knocked the wind out of my sails and I don’t know why. It reminded me of something deep inside, like desire and dreams, loss and reality. It reminded me of what I had and how easy it was to live comfortably, although I never even realized it. I live comfortably now, just differently. A trip to the homeless shelter recently reminded me of that. I have a home, closets, clothes, food, a car, and a husband who adores me, and whom I adore.

And I stand in my truth with I say this, I would never trade the love and life I have now for what I had. Because it isn’t about the money. It’s about having a marriage and and life with someone who you love from the depths of your soul, and who loves you back the exact same way. It’s about being treated like a princess regardless of the jewels on the crown. It’s about giving, giving back, giving love. It’s about having what matters, not not having what doesn’t.

Poor little rich girl is exactly right. And here’s the gift. This lucky little girl has it all, and finally realizes her riches. I’ve got the bigger boat.

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