Part 1: You are here, it’s time to deal with it
The weight was too much. What was once a nagging whisper in the back of my mind, was a suffocating plastic bag around my head now. I couldn’t breathe… it was coming… the panic attack. This wave was eye-opening as it left my body and mind. I could not ignore this monstrous problem anymore. This debt I have created is going bury my family. This was more than guilt. Every fiber of my body was kicking in and this was my warning from the universe. It is time to fight or flight.
Houston, we have a monster debt problem
I log into my bank account site. I dread having to tackle this task in my week. I go through the motions of scheduling bills and moving money around to cover expenses. I log out as quickly as possible, feigning the urgency of moving to another task.
It had been some time since I really studied the “debts” section in my financial profile. I would glance over the section that listed my credit cards and loans, I knew the number wasn’t going away, but I wasn’t acknowledging that it was climbing either. I was in complete denial. Every time I logged into my bank account, I would hold my breath, go through my motions, and click “x” on the browser window. I would practice this every few weeks, and I was amounting a sizable debt. I was also creating a prison of guilt, only for myself, because I was keeping this a secret. From my friends, family, and worse, my husband. I was living comfortably luxuriously with all of the conveniences a new parent could want.
This monster (the debt) was created essentially overnight. A stressful and difficult pregnancy with my first child, combined with a job that did not pay health insurance, created a ripe environment for revealing this little monster inside me. I felt like I was financially independent. Although I was making the biggest paycheck of my life, was lying to myself.
I started to run from this problem. Any efforts to “fix” or reduce the debt were insincere and I never directed any blame towards myself. I was an addict. I would pay down or transfer credit card debt to accommodate for another few months of Amazon Subscriptions, nice dinners out, or that new patio set for the summer. I justified my wants as needs, and I was happy when packages showed up at my door every day.
Three weeks later I would be “wondering” why this number in bold red kept growing. Eventually, I felt like giving up on tackling my debt. “It’s not going anywhere, so why address it? I am getting a big bonus at the end of the year, I will pay it down then.” I would say and do anything to justify my behavior.
It’s time to fight
Several months after I gave birth to my second son, I returned to work. It was a difficult transition for me and I quickly became overwhelmed. I had little desire to be in this corporate office and I had no sense of direction in my career. I was losing a big part of my identity, but I was also battling this incredibly strong desire to be home with my kids. My desire grew into wanting to work part-time, not 50-60 hour weeks! I knew more about what I did not want and nothing about what I really wanted. Most of alI I didn’t even know where to start the journey to figuring it out.
The universe seemed to hear my confused pleas, I needed guidance. Christine Wall posted a Vision workshop she was running at Yoga Off East in Durham. I relished the opportunity for some quality time to myself, but I was hopeful for some answers to those heavy questions too.
With some practice, and willingness to be open to this new experience, I started to become honest. I created a vision and a purpose statement for myself. I was determined to manifest them into my reality. Coming out of this workshop I had a clear vision of my future-self. I loved her.
I had one big lesson to learn though.
It was time. I opened my browser and an excel spreadsheet – it’s time to find financial independence. But, the debt was overwhelming; the panic attack was coming back. I felt utterly alone; this was still a big fat debt of a secret. I needed more help and the universe was listening.
My friend wheeled her chair over, and I spilled the beans. “I have a problem; I am an addict and I spend money and I am not paying it back.” The universe knew I needed accountability to someone that wasn’t going to benefit from all of my Amazon purchases or new outfits from Nordstrom. Overcoming the next step was terrifying because I was mortified as I told this friend my secret. I was embarrassed and emotional, and she just listened. I am still embarrassed, but this is a story that others share, and continue to live within its prison.
Commit yourself and ask for help
I am climbing out of this hole I created. It’s slow, definitely a marathon and not a sprint. I have two kids and pay child care, a mortgage, food, bills, flat tires, and everything else that life demands – it’s a slow marathon, but I’m running it now. I want to share my journey with my readers because if my story can inspire one more person to find the courage to find their financial independence, I have passed on something good that the universe has gifted to me.
Wherever you are in the journey of self-discovery, know that if this story sounds like yours, you are not alone. You don’t have to do this alone either. Consumerism swallows and spits out a debt that we carry from student loans to plastic cards. It took me a long time to admit I had a problem, and in my most desperate moment, I found the courage to ask for help. Swallowing your pride is worth it. Discover who you are and that your self-worth is defined by more than the boxes that arrive on your doorstep. You will earn the financial independence you need to bring more joy to your life.
- It’s time to change your perspective. You don’t always need spiritual enlightenment to find your path. It certainly helps to understand who you are or who you want to be. It was fairly obvious to me and others that I was living in fear and shame. The first catalyst to real change is shifting your perspective of yourself. I buried the shame and realized that I needed to love myself. Out of this I was able to establish a better relationship with money.
- Honesty will be your sword against fear. Making this transition from a fear-based place is scary. I felt buried by this debt, and you may feel buried too. Once you accept that this is not permanent and you realize the only constant is change, you can participate in a proactive way.
- You need to ask for help. You need to tackle the first two before this step, otherwise, it’s not going to be a genuine effort. Know that you are not alone. I’m here! I have been through this, and so many people experience this. Lean on your spouse or your friend that won’t pass judgment. If that is too much for you, there are resources like financial planners or debt relief groups that are experienced with these challenges.
- Know your numbers. You’ve opened the door to honesty and it’s time to acquaint yourself with reality and not the world of fear. If you are working under the grip of fear, you may be working towards the wrong goals. Working from a place of anxiety will waste your time and will continue to set you back.
- Finally, you need to stop the bullshit. Successful people take action. You are not helping anyone with excuses. I promise, you are strong, and you worthy.