Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Being a Bankrupt American

Wow! I am a Bankrupt American

As I am sitting in a psychiatrist’s waiting room with my 15 year old son, I am staring at a breathtaking painting of the ocean with a beautiful  port and some gigantic cruise ships, when I suddenly realize that I might not ever get to experience this scene for real. I will never be able to go on fabulous vacations, visit other countries, buy a boat, a house or even own a new car.   It was probably the first time in my 52 year old life that I felt like so many things were out of my reach.  For a moment, I felt so sad, so very deeply sad!  This feeling of sadness was not a new one, in fact, it was all too familiar.  So familiar that I just get sick and tired of feeling it.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of BANKRUPT is:  1. A person who becomes insolvent (unable to pay debts as they fall due in the course of business, having liabilities in excess of a reasonable market value of assets held, not up to normal standard) 2.  A person who is completely lacking in a particular desirable quality or attribute.

I am an American who became insolvent!  Wow, just that description overwhelms me. It happens to so, so, many people!  People who had good jobs, worked hard to support their family and then lost their jobs and could not find work. So many of us who are considered “underemployed" because we  took jobs at a fraction of what we were making before losing a job.   So many of us who cut back on as many expenses as possible to try to make ends meet.  So many of us who accepted credit with a promise to pay because at the time we could afford to fulfill that promise. So many of us who had medical issues either with or without insurance which financially wiped us out.   So many of us who were living the American Dream until the bottom of our lives dropped out. 

So many people who have had their lives turned inside out, upside down and totally destroyed because of financial woes and then dealing with what prevails as a result of those financial woes.  How many of these people’s children won’t be able to apply for student loans to go to college because their parents are or were bankrupt?  How many people can not have access to good housing because of bankruptcy or foreclosure?  How many people can not have a bank account so that they can cash their paychecks and instead have to pay huge fees just to use their money?  How many people are hiding their money problems from their friends and loved ones, living a lie and hoping no one will find out?  Many, many more than you would know.  In this society we live in where everyone tries to be better than everyone else, it is a secret that people move heaven and earth to keep to themselves.

They are everywhere!  They are standing in line behind you in the grocery store, they are sitting next to you at the baseball game, they are in the car behind you picking up your kids from school, they are sitting next to you at church because bankrupt Americans are everywhere! They are all trying to pick up the pieces of their broken, difficult lives while trying to keep as much of their lives the same as possible.   They are bankrupt and having to live their lives under a different set of rules than most other Americans because, you see, once you become bankrupt, all the rules change. 

In the process of becoming bankrupt, you keep trying to stop the bleeding!  You keep thinking that you are going to turn the corner and things will get better.  You hope and pray that this financial situation will end.  You hope no one will notice. And then the day comes where you can not hide it anymore!!!! 

It has been a very rough 5 years.  Yes, the writing was on the wall for several years before but it was written in a language that I did not understand. I didn’t understand because I truly thought that I could never fall so deeply that my entire life would feel the impact.  I truly always believed that things would get better, in fact, I lived my life with that belief. My future thinking, instead of taking care of the present,  stopped me from healing much sooner than I could have.  Sometimes I think that it might have been part of my downfall.  I was always looking toward the better financial days.   But better financial days never came.