We’re always getting better

The scars remain, but recovery is the story.

In partnership with


Heather again, here to attest in this week’s issue that health is wealth. Also, we’re on the 6th night of Hanukkah, which means I’m writing from underneath a pile of crumbled wrapping paper. Hazel was not impressed by my attempt to pass off her camp trunks as a present, but she learned an important lesson about things costing money. I think.

I was physically cleared from my ankle injury last week. The whole thing was rather anticlimactic. Not like I expected a ticker tape parade or even a giant balloon arch, but it just didn’t feel as joyful as I thought it would. 

According to my doctor, the ligaments in my ankle healed a while ago. But an acute injury can have consequences for your entire body. In my case, both Achilles tendons tightened up from underuse. Elsewhere, I suffered from overuse, my healthy leg and both knees sore all the time.  There’s also the part that’s harder to admit: how my entire family nearly lost their minds trying to keep me from losing mine. The injury impacted everyone. 

When you’re in a serious relationship, you don’t suffer in a vacuum. Just as we share the fruits of our labors, we bear the brunt of each other’s pain.

This is true for our bodies and minds, but also with our money. We all hit hard times. And while you might have the technical skill to “fix” a financial misstep or the earning potential to conquer a bump in the road of your career, let’s be clear. If someone loves you, it affects them, too. 

Like Alex Cooper and her digital disciples of women everywhere, my theme of this year was being unwell. In addition to my season-ending high ankle sprain, I had COVID twice, bronchitis, a parasite (!), lice (!!), and countless other viral ailments. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so disgusting and cry if I had the time. I probably lost months of productivity to all of my doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, and just being sick. How can you keep spirits high when each unfortunate thing layers on top of the last one, weighing you down more and more? 

It’s December now. Barring an eleventh hour spat with the flu (which I can’t count out), I feel comfortable saying the toughest times of the year are behind me. Though I’m technically healed from injury, I still feel stuck in all this. Reliving the fateful pop of my ankle prevents me from testing my physical limits–and that’s the least of what remains. I’m anxious about all the sick time that should’ve gone to our business and book. I’m ashamed at how miserable I’ve been to Doug and the kids. Then, I’m ashamed of myself for being ashamed, as if there wasn’t enough shame already. 

I keep recalling the toughest years of my financial life: right after law school, saddled deep in six figures of student loan debt, working around the clock as penance, miserable to anyone who knew me. My one money mistake hovered over me like a cloud, influencing my relationships with work and my loved ones for years.

It might seem like a stretch to equate financial recovery to the mental recovery I’m facing now, but it feels eerily similar. I will have to relearn things. I will have to exercise patience. I will have to stop wallowing. And just like before, I will have to acknowledge the partner I’d become if I don’t take this part of recovery seriously. 

We recently interviewed a financial advisor and his wife for our book. In his twenties, while working for a large bank, he fell into a serious cocaine problem. He lost everything. But ultimately, the story is a happy one: he recovered. He built a successful book of business. He found love with his wife. Experiencing that loss early on in his career guided so many of his choices afterward. He still worries it can all be taken away, but that fear doesn’t throw him off course. To me, his story is most important not because of his financial recovery but because of how he lives his life: in honor of the constant work he does on himself, which makes him a better partner and father. 

We will never fully erase some injuries, challenges, or experiences from our timelines. They leave behind scar tissue that can change our gait, our approach, and our perspective. But we don’t have to, so long as we reconcile where we are with our loved ones who stood by us. They’re waiting for us to recover, too.

The real celebration doesn’t live in some balloon arch but in the journey of rebuilding, relearning, and reconnecting with ourselves, and sharing that accomplishment with our families. I think I’m on my way.

The truth is, life will do this to us again and again, but only if we are lucky. The world gives us lots of reasons to think about this now. 

How grateful I am to have the privilege to heal.

What a gift to believe that next year will be better. 

You’ll receive my next essay in the New Year. Should you have any feedback or wish to chat with us for our book or The Joint Account, you can find me here, sealing the unsent Boneparth family holiday cards: [email protected].


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The content shared in The Joint Account does not constitute financial, legal, or any other professional advice. Readers should consult with their respective professionals for specific advice tailored to their situation.