I haven’t wanted to write about it. I mean, I’ve wanted to, but didn’t know quite how. Well, I’ve been afraid. Afraid of saying it out loud. Of seeing it online. Of documenting my ‘failure’ for all the world to see. Of opening myself up for potentially massive judgment and the harsh critics on the internets (as my friend Jackie would say.)
So I’ve procrastinated. Wrote about other things. Waited. Until now. Because the whole point of this blog is to tell it like it is. Right? Yes. The point is to tell it like it is in order to hopefully make a difference for someone else in a similar situation. To be open. Honest. To accurately document our experience in the housing crisis and the great economic recession. Our view has always been that we are not victims. And that our present hardship is the fertile soil of our rebirth. This is our chance to be born again, so to speak. Our new savior? Simplicity. Financial responsibility.
Tell it like it is, Stephanie. Just own it. Do it.
Okay. But how? Well, just stick to the facts. In March I wrote a post about the facts that make up our lives and how we found freedom in relating to them as just the facts. Without adding anything.
So, to take a lesson from that post...
At this moment in time, these are the facts:
-WE are ‘camping out’ in my mom and stepdad’s walk-out basement.
-WE are moving in October to the San Juan Islands where we will live for 2 years rent-free taking care of someone else’s house (that story is here.)
-WE are no longer homeowners.
-OUR credit score is 511
-WE have just filed bankruptcy
There it is. Ouch.
Did you miss it? Should I say it again?
We have just filed bankruptcy.
We are insolvent.
We are bankrupt. Lacking in a particular desirable attribute (money.)
The letter of the day is B. And B is for Bankruptcy.
I know. Please don’t look at me like that. Like that! Oh, you’re not? You just had something in your eye? Well, the thing is that I am making an effort to relate to these facts as just facts and nothing more, but I’m not there yet.
Well, I guess because I’m afraid of what you will think. I'm embarrassed! It’s hard to confront the overwhelming extent of our debt and how we got there let alone how everyone else will now categorize us.
Let me be clear:
This is NOT where we thought we’d end up.
This is not where we wanted to end up.
This IS where we have ended up.
There are a lot of facts that led to the fact that we’ve filed for bankruptcy. And we are using all the facts to learn, to grow. The challenge is to not use the facts to beat ourselves to bloody carcasses. What good would that do? I see no upside in that.
When we first met with our bankruptcy attorney he said, in so many words, be good to each other.
"If one of you drinks or eats or is short with the other, just know that it’s probably because of this. Bankruptcy. Because most people have a conversation in their heads that says, I’m a loser. Don’t listen. Just ignore it. It’s just a conversation."
He said all of this with extreme intensity. He wanted to make sure we heard what he had to say.
He said that bankruptcy is hard on marriages because, he pointed at Bob and said, “He wants to build you a castle," he then pointed at me, "and you want a home that’s safe."
He let that hang for a beat. Simple. But true. The truth of that simple statement hit us between the eyes. "And when that doesn’t happen," he continued... clear that he had our attention, "you think you failed. A lot of couples end up in divorce court next and I hate seeing that happen. It doesn’t have to be like that. Okay?" Okay. "Good. You're going to get through this."
And with that he handed us our marching orders. It was a relief. We were so afraid of that meeting. Of acknowledging that this is where we've actually landed. Of the embarrassment! But once we did, it wasn't so scary.
And we could have just gone about our business and never told a soul. Started fresh. No one would have to know. Except for the fact that I have this blog and I feel an obligation to be as truthful and vulnerable as possible. And our commitment to peeling back the curtains for the benefit of others. Which leads us here. To this moment. To me sitting in a coffee shop in my hometown on my day off work typing out the facts.
Photo Credit: Cookie Monster Wallpaper - deviantART by Elmhoe
Now that the cat is out of the bag, I’ll be writing a lot more about the process of going through bankruptcy and its effects on us and what we’re learning. I expect questions. Ask away. Please.
I have questions too.
First of all, do YOU live on a strict budget?
What tools do you use to track your spending?
Comment below or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org