Our Past Bleeds Into Our Present

When my mother died she left behind some 100 bars of hotel soap.

Our Past Bleeds Into Our Present

When we were travelling as kids and spent more than one night in a hotel, mom hid the soap we had used so the maid would leave another bar. The unused soap went home and was used to provide bars of soap for the kitchen and bathrooms. The things is, my dad made good money, and while they had to watch costs early on, by the time I was aware of this game it wasn’t necessary. But she kept on doing it, even bringing home soap from cruise ships.

I know why she did this. It’s the same reason we had to put our initial on the bottom of our Dixie cup and use it till it was falling apart. My mother grew up during the Great Depression. My grandfather was never out of work, but money was very tight until mom was in her teens. Frugal wasn’t just a word, it might be the difference between having just enough and not enough. Those early years of difficulty stayed with mom and affected her for all of her 70 years. Even when she was set for the rest of her life, she kept doing certain things because of a fear from her first decade of life.

It’s a silly example, but it shows us the power of what we experience as children. The messages we hear, and the messages we get from what goes on around us, can set us on a path we blindly follow the rest of our life. Something like collecting soap is harmless, but other things can be destructive to us and or others, including our marriage.

Are you doing things because of your past? Are you doing things that no longer make sense, or that are now harmful? 

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I stopped collecting hotel soaps a few years ago.

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10 Comments on “Our Past Bleeds Into Our Present

  1. I feel for your mother. I grew up in first world poverty and went through times of serious poverty in my marriage. I can be very frugal. I am less frugal, now, but I admit that I feel guilty about it at times. Not being as frugal as I know how makes me feel guilty that I am not being the best steward of our finances, and I actually have to fight a twinge of fear that if I am not a good steward God will enact consequences like a major emergency or hubby losing his income or something.

    I feel badly about enjoying times of financial gain where I can buy a new outfit instead of shopping for used clothes at yard sales. Where I can buy lettuce at the grocery store and not make my salad out of the wild greens in my back yard.

    It feels wrong to not be frugal.

    So, that adds a new layer to issues of the past. It isn’t just a habit, but perhaps even feels like a moral issue.

    • @Libl – Perhaps – but when you have a several year supply and you are travelling more and more, I think you could back off a bit.

      And don’t even get me started on saving bits of gravy in the freezer in a container designated for that.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…One Less ThingMy Profile

  2. You are so right about this, Paul. When I was five, my parents divorced and it wasn’t amicable. He left my Mom for another woman. I was at home the day my father packed his things and left and I witnessed their argument, the crying, the yelling, my Mom pleading with him not to leave us. I hid under the kitchen table and after the door slammed, my Mom pulled me out from my hiding place and put me at the window. I’ll never forget seeing my father’s car backing swiftly out of the drive.

    This was a defining moment in my life. I didn’t realize until far into my adult life that I held on to my husband with a desperate heart but a loose grip. I just knew he’d leave eventually, that I could never be good enough to make him stay forever, so I never really let my self need him nor rest in his love for me. I was still that little girl in the window.

    Thanks be to God I realized my error. My husband is nothing like my father. He really loves me and has stayed with me and our girls through good times and bad. I decided to be “all in” my relationship with him and hold nothing back, to be vulnerable. It was a turning point in our marriage and in my life. I took myself out of the window.

  3. When I was four, a three-year old girl and I went behind a bush and checked each other out. It was just curiosity and she was as interested in seeing mine as I was hers. Her mother found us and went ballistic. Instead of gently telling us that privates were to be kept private, she made a GREAT BIG DEAL out of it. I believe it has affected me adversely until now (61 years later).

  4. Oh, gosh, yes, but not from childhood. I worked in situations in which, if you wanted a working weapon or vehicle, you did the maintenance on it yourself, and you fixed it yourself.

    This make-do attitude worked well in the field, but it was an awful drag for my wife, because to her it smelled of poverty, and a kind of low-class redneck ambience.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 403 – The End Of Despair {FMF}My Profile

    • I kind of like the make-do attitude. When I was very young we had to be careful. But from 4th grade to my 20’s my parents were very well off. Not have your own boat an plane and go on European vacations twice a year wealthy, but very comfortable. Thing is, my dad was never home, always working. If we wanted something fixed, my mom had to call a repairman. Who may or may not do a good job.

      My husband doesn’t make much money. But if I want something fixed, he does it immediately. I’ve yet to find something he can’t fix, either around the lab or the house. I now find it immesely irritating to have an Indian postdoc who doesn’t even know how to put oil in his vacuum pump. He probably had servants all his life. We get the upper 2 castes here. I understand it. But it irritates me that a grown man with a PhD cannot do the simplest things for himself

  5. This is fascinating. Both my husband and I grew up poor. His way worse then mine in some areas. I think for me, our circumstances were never looked on as a negative, in fact it wasn’t really until we were teenagers that my siblings and I even realized how poor we were! For my husband there was always a daily complaining about their circumstances. Fast forward to adult years, and I still am tight/frugal/thrifty with whatever resources we have, even if we don’t need to be – while my husband is very carefree with our resources, even when we might not have as much freedom. It has taken us years to start finding a balance, and while we have both come a way, we still have more growing to do.

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