How I Was Financially Wiped Out
I feel the fear. I hear it in the voices of those I know. We are living in a world of unpredictability. A world of sudden unknowns. A pandemic has induced this.
I feel it too. Yet I also feel somewhat numb to it.
Several friends noticed my seemingly flat reaction. They questioned why I didn’t seem to have their shared tone of alarm.
How could I not be more frightened?
How could I not react to all of this?
They worked hard to wake me up.
My continued calm disconcerting to them.
“I am not without fear,” I say. “But in reality, I have lived with this fear and unpredictability for years.”
This is my truth.
I know what it is like to not have grocery money for my children. To not have gas money or at times a car to put gas in. I know what it’s like to have the electricity turned off. I know what it’s like to receive foreclosure notices.
I have received the calls of creditors. I have even heard their knocks at the door. I have watched cars circle the cul de sac impatiently eyeing their foreclosure prey. I know the indignity of having my card declined. The desperation of hocking things to survive.
I know what it’s like when sleep suddenly becomes the enemy. When the pillow turns to stone. When there is no escape. No respite.
I know what it is like to cast aside self-respect and pride. To accept the love and generosity of family and friends.
Even though it makes you feel both grateful and less of who you are.
I know what it’s like to have your credit destroyed. To go from homeowner to renter.
To part with ninety percent of your belongings because you can no longer house them nor afford to store them. Even the sentimental ones you believed would follow your family for life.
I know when stress physically manifests itself in multiple emergency room visits when you are uninsured.
I know what it’s like to cry alone at three in the morning.
Feeling as if love, safety, and even faith walked out your door. And in the process, held it wide open for fear, isolation, and unpredictability.
I know what it’s like to question if you are strong enough to overcome what feels like the complete undoing of your life.
I know what it’s like to scream at God even when you couldn’t be more devout.
Every day I live with the stress which accompanies no longer having retirement nor savings nor sufficient credit cards. The worry of meeting unexpected expenses.
The before and after in my life. The unwanted division that clearly separated my success and my undoing.
I would never have chosen this.
Do I and did I mourn my old life?
I built a business since my twenties. I began saving during those same years. I managed all of our finances and not only paid everything on time, but I also paid things down. We lived on seventy percent of our income and saved more. We owned a home and two vacation properties. By the time I was forty we no longer used credit cards.
This took years of planning and goals. Yet here I am.
I cry now as I revisit some of these unwanted memories.
Not because of the money lost. But because of the fear that accompanied the dismantling of my life.
The agony of a mother. One who felt alone and scared. Who worried she could not protect her most valuable beings. And who knew they felt the terrifying tremors.
A mother who couldn’t keep their world from becoming chaotic. An impossible heartache that far exceeds the type of value which accompanies money.
Yet I feel numb.
Perhaps I could explain it this way.
I lost my mother in my twenties. Years later my peers began to lose their parents. One day I said to my sister, “I’m glad that excruciating pain is behind us because it’s unbearable watching people relive it.” My sister acknowledged she had often thought the same thing.
We hated to watch others suffer because we knew that pain too well. We didn’t want to relive it. We didn’t want to go anywhere near it again.
I clearly see the fear and agony in today’s world.
Sometimes I think I see it too clearly. And certainly, I have the same fears most have. That I will lose what I have rebuilt. That once again, my life will be dismantled.
But watching it happen again and to others, is just as painful. I don’t want to relive it. I don’t want to go anywhere near it again.
The only thing that can deplete empathy from an overly empathetic person is the inability to relive sadness.
I can’t erase or absorb the pain of those sacrificing more than the rest of us. Those being furloughed, losing jobs, fearing the next mortgage payment, or food on the table.
I try and do what I can. I tip more than most when getting takeout, I add dollars to feed the hungry at the grocery store, and I thank those who are working far too much for too little.
And I can offer hope…
I am a girl whose stone pillow has turned soft and escape is no longer needed…who has abandoned her middle of the night concert for one.
A girl who still has overwhelming financial stress and many problems to resolve. But who finds joy in her simplified life and peace knowing she could lose everything and still be happy.
I would never have chosen this.
It was out of my control.
Not because of a pandemic.
Because of a man who believed divorce was a tool for financial dominance. Rather than the unfortunate outcome of two people who once loved each other and had exhausted all of their options.
I can offer hope to anyone who questions unfair things.
Why otherwise good and responsible people suffer. Why suddenly life presents us with a before and after. When it feels like everything we worked for has been erased and taken from us.
I understand injustice. And how that very word means our cries go unheard.
I understand losing the entire world you built.
And I also understand rebuilding it.
I understand hope.