I am a fortunate woman, clinician, educator, and interventionist. I oftentimes work with people who have lives aplenty. That was not always the way, as I started out working at Allegheny Department of Public Welfare when I was 20.
Now at 75, my practice caters to those with means. I am not sure how all that happened, yet as my skills and acumen progressed, so did my clients. I was lucky, as they trusted me and referred others to me.
From what I’ve been told, my clients like that I am discrete, confidential, have skills they can relate to, and have a sense of humor. They like that I can meet them anywhere, on zoom, at home, in a board room, after pickleball, or on a walk. They are drawn to my belief that treatment can occur without walls, and my team can create a safe space that allows them to grow and change within their daily environment. They like that I collaborate with other like-minded folks like Silver Bell Coaching and Youth prevention Mentors amongst others and bring them into the treatment team.
As such, over the years, I have developed great empathy for those who live in land aplenty and who have far too much. Excess carries its own set of burdens.
Problems the 1% Experience
What could possibly be challenging about being in the 1%? How could one face adversity while living in the land of private jets, house managers, private labels, multiple homes, and a social life that takes one from the Maldives to Aspen with stops in New York and West Palm along the way?
What is it like if you don’t trust those close to you, and you wonder if they are a true ally or a parasite? They worry that people are just their friends because they can provide for them or are too insecure and think they have to buy their friendship. I remember working with a woman who called herself the “payer lady.” She was smart enough to see that folks did not want her for who she was; rather, they wanted her for what she could pay for, whether charity events, presents, vacations, etc. With a deep sign of ennui, she called herself the “payer lady.”
Another woman I worked with had grown up feeling as if she was not good enough, not smart enough, not beautiful enough, despite the reality that she was. She surrounded herself with friends that she lavished her excess on. In return, they talked behind her back and even stole from her. When she realized what was happening, she experienced deep depression and betrayal. While she stopped talking to them, the stings of intimate betrayal wore heavy on her heart.
People Find It Easier To Talk About Sex Than Money
Boredom is often a cause of problems of those with everything. They can buy everything yet have nothing. Wanting to fill an empty void, they use money to chase the next high, which often leads to increased sex or mind-altering substances. Since they have everything and need nothing, money often is a means to fill the void. We have worked with many a purposeless young person whose parents have bought them a beautiful apartment, a beach house, and yet they do not know how to work or enjoy the luxuries afforded them. They lose themselves in a sea of drugs and anxiety.
Moreover, people with money often have an easier time talking about sex than they do about money. Money is wrapped up in shame and is seen as a dirty secret. Sex is easier to talk about. Money is awkward to talk about. There is a perception that money can immunize you against mental health or substance misuse; however, we know all too well that is not true. Oftentimes I think money can make you much more susceptible to them.
What Most Wealthy Parents Do
As I have written, most parents want to give their children everything. I know that I have wanted to do that. They want to indulge their children, so they don’t have to experience or suffer what they may have had to endure. Generational wealth wants them to continue the family tradition. Yet, the result is, as we have seen too often, they prevent their children from experiencing the very things that made them successful hard work: sacrifice, experiencing and overcoming failure, developing resilience, and a complete lack of grit.
These wealthy children start out by going to elite private schools, boarding schools, and elite universities. Rarely do they create friendships with non-wealthy people, and rarely are they involved in philanthropy. This can lead to feelings of isolation of being trapped in a very small bubble. There are few people they can relate to that can create a safe space for them to grow, teach healthy ways of living and help them and learn.
I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was the child of a disowned daughter whose family had generational wealth. Scorned by her brothers and not ready to deal with poverty which they thrust my mother into, she was ill-equipped for life’s adversities. Turning to alcohol, she washed away her sorrow and trauma, as I have seen so many young people do who lacked purpose and direction. As a result, I grew up promising my children they would not have to experience the hardships I had. Nonetheless, I was not able to shield them from their struggles.
As I enter this new dimension of my life, it is my honor to work alongside young men and women who have faced adversity and know how to help other young folks succeed in a world of lavishness. No longer do we have to look the other way, rather we help both parents, grandparents, and their offspring thrive. Though the world may look different, they learn that they are enough, that they can do things and be responsible, that they can manage money, that people can like them for who they are, not what they pay for, and that depression and anxiety can be modulated. They can discover joy in being substance-free. So next time you think about the land of plenty, know that no matter who you are, where you come from, there is support that can be tailored to you.
Feel free to reach out to me. I am just an email or phone call away. One thing you can be certain of even in these high-tech times, I still answer my phone. Personal service has always been my motto. You can contact me here.