Every year, on tax day, I celebrate “Beat Myself Up Unmercifully for Being a Disorganized Loser and Also Totally Panic!” day.
It’s kind of like Christmas, but with more stress and fewer presents.
There is anxiety. And frantic searching for things I stashed in “safe” places months earlier. Last minute calls to get copies of things that I should already have. Constant chatter in my head about how I can’t believe I’m doing this again and what a loser I am. Then a mad dash to file for an extension or a throwing up of hands altogether with no filing of anything at all.
Basically it sucks.
One might wonder why, given my awareness of how fucking awful the day is going to be, along with my awareness of why it’s going to be awful, I don’t, ummmm, take action to minimize and/or alleviate the abject awfulness of the day, i.e., get my shit together before tax day.
Except “why?” is usually not the right question to ask oneself. Especially if you’re Me.
Gawd I’m complicated. It’s utterly exhausting some days.
I’ve noticed that when someone (me) says something like “Hey, why don’t you/haven’t you/aren’t you [insert whatever it is I’m not/haven’t/aren’t doing] already?” I hear something completely different: “Hey, LOSER, you’re 46 years old and a LAWYER, shouldn’t you have your shit together by now? Everyone else does…”
And then I’m all “You’re right, I’m a total loser, when will I ever change?” and/or “Fuck you for judging me! I’m not doing whatever it is you think I should do because I don’t want to and you can’t make me! And now that you have mentioned it out loud, I’m really not going to do it!”
Neither of those responses result in anything actually getting done/changing.
Methinks it is time for a new strategy around taxes.
The problem is that I’m not sure what the problem is.
Is it a Fear Monster that I need to talk to? Could be. I do have a lot of emotion around money and managing money.
It also feels like some sort of wall.
Shut the front door! This is highly unusual. I’m pretty sure this problem involves a Fear Monster and, behind that, a big, sturdy, stainless steel wall that looks suspiciously like something one might find at Fort Knox, but with a better lock.
I guess we need to talk.
Now I know how men feel when they hear those dreaded words, “we need to talk”. Oh alright, that is a gross generalization about men, so sue me. Anyway, it is like a sinking feeling — an exhausted sinking feeling that something difficult is about to happen that I just really don’t want to deal with right now, or maybe ever.
Me: “Dude, I’m tired of tax day awfulness and horror, I need to understand what stops me from doing the things I need to do to make it tolerable. I can see that there is a big, scary looking wall, but I can’t even get close to it because you are acting like an angry whirling dervish and won’t let me get past you. What is up?”
FM: (breathless and a little hoarse from screaming) “For the love of God, STAND BACK! You do not want to approach that wall, do you understand me? The ground is very unstable — think “lava chute”…. How many times do I have to tell you to leave this alone! Listen closely: YOU ARE NO GOOD WITH MONEY AND THAT IS ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW. Please just turn around and walk away.”
Me: “You’re scaring me! Lava chute? That is horrifying! Is it really that bad?”
FM: (emphatically) “WORSE! Better to leave now. I’m afraid you are going to get hurt and then where would we be?”
Me: “You’re making a lot of noise and making dire predictions but you aren’t telling me anything. I just want to be able to get my taxes done without it being such a last-minute nightmare. What, specifically, are you trying to protect me from?”
FM: “Everything! This isn’t just a tax issue, it is an everything issue. You may start with taxes but the next thing you know you will be swallowed up by an avalanche of other issues. Big issues! Ones that we don’t want to look at! Like your student loans, sending the kid to college, your retirement, medical insurance, estate planning, your credit score, and lots more scary things. And then you will get paralyzed and depressed and it will all be too much. So there is that and then there is still the wall. I don’t want you to get to the wall.”
Me: “That is scary. I can see why you think you need to protect me. The thing is, I am already paralyzed and depressed. Knowing those things are out there and that I’m afraid to look at them is making it even more scary. You’re right though — looking at them all at once seems like a really bad idea. Let’s make a deal. I will take baby steps. I will address the tax issue and only the tax issue right now. I don’t have to solve everything at once or even acknowledge everything at once. I will put some systems in place re: taxes so next year tax day won’t destroy me.”
FM: “You’re no good at systems, have you seen your office? That seems unrealistic. Better to stick with what we know. Walk away.”
Me: “It’s true that, historically, I haven’t been very good at setting up systems and sticking with them. But that was Then and this is Now and I’m learning the value of systems. Plus the pain of not having a system for my taxes is very fresh and that is motivating me. I don’t want Next-Year-Kim to have to go through anything remotely like today.”
FM: “That might work. But you have to promise to stay just with the tax issue for now and, this is really important, please stay away from that wall. I’m pretty sure that if you get to the wall everything will change and you won’t be interested in systems or anything else having to do with money. Ever. No good can come from it. Doom I tell you!”
Me: “That sounds ominous. I am very afraid of the wall. I don’t think it is as bad as you say, but I’m not ready to get near it. I feel too fragile right now.”
FM: “I agree. Everyone knows you’re like a delicate flower….”
Me: “Very funny. So I’m not going to get closer to the wall, but I am going to get this tax issue under control for Next-Year-Kim. In fact, I’m going to set it up so that she doesn’t have to get anxious and fearful about taxes any other day during the year either. Paying taxes will still totally suck, but we will be on top of it! OH, and she will be able to find any tax record her heart desires because they will all be in one place. And in order. In pretty files. And all the systems and procedures will be set forth in the Book of Me so she can refer back to them.”
End of Discussion.
It is nice to know that I don’t have to deal with that big mean wall before I take steps towards getting my taxes under control. Yay for baby steps! I feel good about this plan and I’m going to get to work on it tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m TIRED! This was a difficult post to get through, especially on tax day.