So yesterday was a very significant, very relieving day.
Yesterday I met with my bankruptcy attorney. And it's all good. I wish I had done this many months ago, before my meager funds were frozen by a big bad collection agency, before I ate my way up to a size 16. Before I turned into a freaky, deer-in-the-headlights lady who could barely force a smile, let alone be a semi-decent parent or friend or daughter.
But it's started. And it's like someone removed a giant boulder from my back. Am I pleased with this final resolution? Yes and no.
I'm ashamed. Ashamed as hell to be doing this. I have never thought highly of people who shuck their responsibilities and head for the hills. I am very big on "doing the right thing" and "sucking it up". I have always, always told my kids that if you make a mess, you clean it up.
But I had no other choice. Seriously. I'm not going to justify what I'm doing, or go into a long winded, serious and melancholy explanation. I had too much debt. Way too much. There was no way that I was ever going to claw my way out of this hole, ever. Unless I found myself a very rich, very blind, very senile dude. And even then it would have been questionable. Because I would have invariably found some way to alienate the blind old senile guy before things got too serious.
So I did it. A friend recommended this bankruptcy lawyer, and since I am a giant wuss and a total baby, my friend Michelle called him and made the appointment. He sent me a 15 page form to fill out and in my usual Jenny style, I put that off until yesterday morning. Just for shits and giggles, I printed out a couple of credit reports.
Seeing just how much crap you're in, in black and white, it's weird. Weird because I knew I was in deep, but didn't really know how deep. Weird also because of this:
SOMETIMES THINGS AREN'T AS BAD AS WE THINK THEY ARE.
I thought for sure I was going to find pentagrams and death threats and all sorts of damnations and curses on my credit report. You know what I found? A tangible, black and white record of my fall from grace. Nothing more, nothing less.
There it was. A time line of my life over the past two years. Everything up until November of 2008? Perfect. Green light. A model citizen. And then, after that, it was like a hundred-car pileup on a foggy highway that started with a single, innocuous fender bender.
To put it simply, it was a chart that said, "This chick was really good at paying her bills. And then she got the shaft. And then, she sucked at paying her bills." Simple as that.
I sucked at it. And then I met Mark.
Mark is my bankruptcy attorney. I like Mark. Not like him in the "I'd leave him alone in a room with my kids" way, but I like him. He asked me about 5oo questions, looked at my credit report and then announced that I'm pretty much the perfect candidate for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I have, quite literally, no assets.
No life insurance.
No offshore bank accounts, no jets, no boats, no designer wardrobe.
Nothing. All I have is my sparkling wit, my four sweet babies and the skin of my teeth.
That's all I need. In 90 days, I will be rid of this last giant, stinking monkey on my back. When my friend and I walked out of this guy's office, I just looked at her and started crying. Not sad tears, not tears of fear or woe.
Tears of relief. I cried because I have felt it almost impossible to breathe for just a bit over 2 years. I cried over the fact that when I accepted Mark as my bankruptcy attorney, I was officially saying YOU WIN. I was saying "I give" in this fumbling wrestling match between me and my stupid pride.
It's time to start over. Time to wave the white flag, time to cry Uncle.
And that's ok. This isn't exactly the life I pictured for myself, it's certainly not the life I had hoped for all those years ago, while resting my head on Big Daddy's chest and listening to his heartbeat while he fell asleep and I drifted off to dreamland thinking about our future life together. I had pictured a sunnier, easier life. A life filled with granite countertops, vacations, shopping sprees and new-car smell. I had pictured myself as the smiling, relaxed matriarch presiding over a clan of happy, well-adjusted kids who never once wanted for anything and oftentimes stopped what they're doing just to proclaim that they are indeed the luckiest, most fortunate kids in the universe.
I never thought I'd be a worn out, thick-waisted middle aged woman crying into her friend's shoulder outside a bankruptcy attorney's office. If you had allowed me a million years of dreaming, I probably never would have come up with me being alone in this big scary world, protecting my little family with nothing but my fierce determination and my unflagging will to survive.
But as we all know, life is never what we expect it to be. Life is full of changes and mishaps and forks in the road. Life keeps us guessing, keeps us on our toes. Life likes to sneak up on us and poke us in the ribs or pull the rug out from under us when we least expect it.
Life can suck, but living a sucky life certainly beats not living life at all, right?
So, I am feeling good. Not super proud of myself, but good. I think things are finally going in the direction that they should be going...which is up.
Up is good.