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A Gift

Posted Oct 22 2009 10:03pm

During our long, terrible weekend recovering from the miscarriage, life threw us yet another curve ball, but this was the good kind.  We found out that Adam’s recently deceased grandmother left him a large sum of money.  Adam and I are both in a bit of shock about it and we’re trying to work through what it will mean for us.  It’s not enough money that (even if he wanted to, which he certainly doesn’t) Adam could quit working.  It’s nowhere near that kind of money.  It’s not even enough that we will substantially change our lifestyle.  But it’s enough that it will definitely change our lives.  I think I can sum it up by saying that we have lived on the financial edge for as long as we’ve been married, but this will put us into the blissful category of “financially secure,” and it will probably keep us there forever.  Thank you, Grammy.  This is an amazing gift that we never expected.

The first thing we’re going to do is to pay back Adam’s parents the money they lent us to use as down payment on our house.  That will feel really good.  Then we’ll pay off a good chunk of our “second mortgage,” otherwise known as our student loans.  We can completely eliminate at least one loan and free up a sizable chunk of monthly income in the process.  Then, we’ll set aside a healthy emergency fund.  That will be a huge relief to me, as the conservative CFO of this family. 

There will be plenty of money left after all that and we’re not sure exactly what we’ll do with it yet, but we do intend to buy one special thing:  a digital piano.  We’ve been saving up for one for a few months now anyway, but now it will be a gift from Grammy.   This photo will have a permanent home on top of the piano:

With Great Grammy

It’s hard to believe this is really happening.  This money is going to give us peace of mind about our finances.  I can’t even remember what that feels like, but I know it’s going to be really, really good.  

This experience reminds me of one of Diana Hsieh’s first podcasts, when she answered a listener’s question about the morality of inheritance.  She essentially said that an inheritance is a gift, and that there is nothing immoral about accepting a gift.  At the time I thought, “duh!” but now that it is happening to me, I can see where people might have some trouble accepting such a gift.  I don’t personally have trouble with this kind of gift, but I do have trouble accepting other things from people, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post.  I can’t easily accept sympathy, help, and support from others.  I conflate sympathy with pity, which is a mistake.  Part of my problem is a mistaken premise that I have a duty to support myself independently, regardless of context.  Part of it is a trust issue.  It manifests itself in many harmful ways that go way beyond accepting help:  I’m uncomfortable meeting new people, it takes me years to form a real friendship, I am hyper-defensive and second-handed about how people perceive me, especially regarding my intelligence, and there’s more.  I’m still working on figuring it all out.  So, along with dealing with the wonderful support I received after my miscarriage, this is yet another experience that is helping me in my introspection on this issue.  In this case, I have something to differentiate.  Why am I able to accept benefiting from an inheritance (and one that has not even been given to me, but to my husband), but I can’t easily accept someone cooking dinner for me when I’ve suffered a loss?  I’m going to listen to Diana’s podcast again, with this question in mind.  I’m getting closer to an answer to this problem.  I’m determined to work this out so that I can benevolently enjoy my relationships with others.  And if Grammy helps me get there, that will be an even greater gift than the money.

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