Being in debt is not an emotional walk in the park and unless you know what it is like, you can’t feel the pain or suffering that goes with it.
People forget or don’t know what it is like to be in debt. No, not the kind of debt where you owe Bob a bit for spotting you for lunch. I’m talking about the type of debt when you wake up, realizing that you are in trouble and can’t afford to repay everything you owe on a monthly basis.
The fear and panic from this debt looming in front of you causes you to shutdown. It becomes hard to focus, you can’t sleep through the night, you can’t concentrate or to want to confront the situation or creditors. Dodging the collector calls is best for your fragile emotional state but that just exacerbates the underlying problem that you can’t afford to pay your bills.
Instead of addressing the situation you find yourself simply unable to cope with it. You know you should take proactive action to deal with the situation and instead you avoid it. But knowing and doing are two different things. The situation gets worse, you blame yourself, you are stupid and incompetent, you tell yourself. You begin to feel like a loser and a failure. Your self-esteem and self-worth begin to vanish and then they are gone.
Before you know it the avoidance is making the situation worse. The calls are not going away, instead they are escalating. The mailbox is filling up quicker with nasty letters and notices and since the credit cards have been maxed out, there is no more plastic available to help you go out to eat, go shopping to relax, or easily put food on the table.
You feel like you should be able to deal with the situation, but you can’t. People say it’s easy, they say it’s nothing but you know that’s not true. You know that even the slightest thing creates a bubbling stress inside of you. Your stomach churns, your neck is tense, and the headaches increase. Your stress surfaces and you are even less able to cope. You snap at others, you are either depressed or angry, you feel hopeless, alone and lost.
You know the tasks ahead to address the situation will be many but how can you face even one of them when you are just struggling to figure out what to wear today or just remember what you are supposed to do today.
Forget trying to implement some clever master plan to deal with your debt, hell, you just want to make it through enough of the day until you can slip back into bed, open the bottle, continue to contemplate killing yourself or figure out if people around you are better off if you were dead, you sit and watch television mindlessly or escape through some other means. You begin to hesitate to answer the phone when it rings, you start opening the mail less and less. Soon the phone goes unanswered completely and the mail stacks up, unopened, off to the side.
And the cycle continues in an every tightening spiral until you reach your breaking limit and you implode in tears and failure. And once you do that, and almost only then, can you move forward. It is as if you need to murder your past so you can birth a new future and a new reality. Shedding who you were and what was becomes like the process an insect goes through to shed an old skin.
The new skin looks different and you can live in it. It is colorful, the days get brighter and the future is so much better than the past. Before long you catch yourself laughing, remembering the laundry at the cleaners and making plans to do things with others.
It took too long but now you can look back on your pain, feel that pain, feel that sorrow, and be thankful for a new day. You are a new you.
There are those out here that understand your pain and the process. You are not alone. If you need help, contact me.
SteveFear and Loathing in Debt by Steve Rhode