As anyone who is facing bankruptcy asks: How did I get here?
It's fairly easy for me to see the chain of events that lead to here.
It started in college, which credit cards equaled money. I knew better, but I'd never tasted the punishment of it. I figured it wouldn't be that big of a deal. I got out of college, and found all my paychecks going to pay back my debts. I'd gotten myself in deep enough that no one would even give me a consolidation loan to make it easier for me to dig my way out.
I came into my marriage still carrying much of that debt. But we could manage. We were treading water atleast.
Until my husband lost his job. Then he got a new one. A better one! We started to make progress again. Then he got laid off again. We ended up literally living off my credit cards for about five months. We lived on faith that we'd get out of this mounting debt.
Just as all hope seemed to be fading, a new job -- even BETTER than the last!! We started peddling the right direction again. Until suddenly the guy he came in to replace wanted his job back... and they gave it to him. Luckily, my husband literally went only two days without a job. Unfortunately, it paid less than the job he'd had three years before.
We were screwed.
But we lived on faith and found ourselves able to tread water again with a lot of creative budgeting. We weren't getting anywhere, but we weren't sinking any further. It was enough for now.
Until the credit crisis hit. I watched my credit limits plummet to right above what was owed. One day late on one card, and suddenly I was getting penalized to above my limit, which only penalized me again. My manageable payments doubled. One by one, the minimum payments became impossible. Eventually... I had to just stop paying them at all.
A few months later, the first letter came from collections. Then another. And another. Then my family started getting calls. And I quickly ceased to be able to sleep. But still I hoped and prayed something miraculous would happen to pull us out.
The miraculous thing was the acceptance bankrupcy was our option. However, my husband fought me on it for months. So we've still just sat stagnate. Collection agencies sold my debt to other agencies. Until I finally lost it one day in tears. I couldn't handle the stress any more. My stomach was sick. My head hurt. I had nightmares of lawsuits, wage garnishments and judgments.
After a long talk with my parents asking their advice, my husband got on board. I made an appointment with a bankruptcy attorney for a consultation. I'll be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the attorney herself, but her paralegal is a total DOLL. She even made me laugh... yes, I LAUGHED at the bankruptcy lawyers office.
We determined that all the debt is in my name alone, and with that fact my husband doesn't have to file. Hallelujah, one of our credit ratings will avoid plummeting. We'll be able to reaffirm our truck payment, and maybe now I'll be able to stop deferring my student loan payments. I went in well prepared, and we left with a short list of items they still need from me. (Which I should get to them next week.) I anticipate filing my petition with the courts within the next few weeks, and having my meeting with the trustee in January. My debt should be discharged by February.
I know, I have a loooong road ahead of me after this. I'll have to carefully rebuild my credit, which will be a struggle. But to be free of thousands of dollars of debt that I will never in my life be able to fully repay. (They showed me a figure showing that someone who owes only $10,000... making only the minimum payment it would take them 3,088 years to repay it. I was shocked, yet not surprised.) I'll be able to sleep again, and not get a daily migraine headache. Perhaps I'll actually lose a little weight I've put on due to stress.
This isn't the ideal answer, but its the one for me. I'm not proud of it, but I'm also not ashamed. I'm not a bad person. Life just happens. I made my mistakes. I've learned hard lessons. And its in those lessons that I'll be better off after this. It'll be out of my greatest failure that I will find my greatest successes. I know this in my heart and gut... I believe this... I will make it happen.
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