It feels terrible to lose money -- nothing odd about that -- but why was I taking it all so personally? The intensity of my feelings caught me off guard and I found myself pondering the relational nature of my experience. What role was I projecting onto the market, and what enactment was I engaging in?
The closest parallel I could come up with was one of an adolescent going through the pains of maturation. I had come to expect the market to be a kind of benevolent parent. I followed the "rules" -- save your money, invest it, diversify your portfolio -- and then I expected the rest of it (the nurturing and growth of my money) to be "taken care of."
Obviously the market is not a parent -- that's not the point I'm trying to make. And lots of people who were a lot more hands-on than me have lost even more money.
But the growth pain that I'm going through is one of waking up and knowing that I have to be more responsible for myself. I have to do more homework. I have to make more informed decisions. I can't ever trust that my money is just going to be "taken care of."
I don't know what change this realization is going to make in my net worth. Maybe it won't change anything. But at least I will feel like more of a financial grown up living powerfully in the world, instead of a disappointed child.