‘Losing Everything’: The Financial Adventures of a Single Mom in 2015

Yesterday I filed bankruptcy. Chapter 7.

After five years of extreme difficulty and continuous uphill battles, personal and professional, I sat there in a lawyers office in Troy and literally handed over a large pile of the looming disaster that has perpetually trailed me at my heels for over five years now. You wouldn’t think that a pile of paper could hold so much power over a person’s constitution but let’s just say that paper and I, and the secrets each page held over my conscience, have not been on solid footing.

Filing bankruptcy costs about a thousand dollars, by the way. I couldn’t help but see the irony in the fact that I could not even afford to file bankruptcy. And so, a friend also came with me to be a second set of ears, offer moral support, and to write a check for the filing.

This past year I haven’t written the way I used to. I did share my I want to be a powerlifter series but even through the documenting of that, I was not feeling as authentic in my delivery. As a 42 year old woman who has fully lived life and seen so many realities, there have been so many other things I wanted to write about but I just wasn’t ready.

I wasn’t brave enough.

Maybe now because I literally have nothing to lose, I have once again found my voice and my courage.

What matters most

On the Sunday before Christmas, my mail sat there in a large pile on my counter.

Anyone who lives paycheck to paycheck and has bills that never seem to be able to be paid will tell you, mail doesn’t get opened. There have been weeks I have let it sit in my mailbox. Just the thought of what could potentially be in one of those envelopes was enough to put me in a frozen state of fear. Sometimes avoidance and denial is the best way a person knows to cope in order to just get done what can get done.

And so there sat my mail.

I don’t really know what compelled me to open it this day, but I did. A national grid bill. Overdue. A sprint bill. Overdue.

And then two items.

A court summons for a medical bill owed to a local hospital in the sum of seven thousand dollars and a court letter telling me that the foreclosure of my home was finally moving forward and the sale of my home was set for January 21.

And so now my past was circling in and things that I had held at bay could no longer wait.

There was one other piece of news about a week and a half prior to my opening my mail that day. I had been given notice that I was losing the space where I had been working to build my real [FIT] life business. Due to some other unanticipated bumps in the road over the last year I was not able to financially grow it fast enough. I was given just three weeks notice which had then left me scrambling to figure out just how I would continue to train my clients, or if I even could. So, my only source of income which provided what little I currently could for my kids, would also soon be gone.

And it was Christmas.

I’ve learned some hard lessons about loyalty and people who don’t keep to their word. As a woman who has lived in a constant vulnerable position, I know first hand what it is to be taken advantage of. When you have nothing financially, you have no solid footing in matters of negotiation. My future and that of my children has been created and held together by nothing more than my perseverance, tenacity, endless hours of hard work and reinvention, street smarts, and the will to thrive.

Everything I do, I do for my children. There is no feeling in the world that is worse than feeling that you have failed your kids. That you cannot provide enough for them.

Let me stop here and say that I am not looking for anyone’s pity. This rebuilding of my life, which I shall document over this next year, is my way of giving back in what small way I can. This final collapse of the shaky foundation I have struggled to hold together for so long has presented me yet again with an opportunity to set things straight and to get things right.

A new beginning.

As much as there is a large focus on negativity in this world, I can tell you there are good people. Kind, caring, giving people. I have been at the receiving end of a great deal of this generosity for many years now. As a single mom, constantly struggling to make a living and simultaneously raise four kids, the universe has kept my life in a scary delicate holding pattern, yet despite how bad things seem to get, there has always been a saving grace. A silver lining. An unexpected check in the mail. A serendipitous encounter with a job lead. A person with a generous and giving heart.

I truly believe that I am blessed.

I know that I am not alone in my life struggles. I know that there are many single moms who are in risk of losing their homes, who have already lost their homes, who are struggling to make ends meet and to keep their kids in a stable environment. I know I am not the only one who has lived in shame, embarrassment and fear.

I want to share my story to help other women know they are not alone. Everyone talks about their successes but rarely do we hear people talk about real, genuine struggle right when they are in the midst of it.

Over this next year as I finally start to rebuild all that has been lost, I am going to document my journey. I am going to do my best to be candid and truthful and to share as much as I possibly can with all of you.

Some of you will judge me. I do not care. No matter what we do, no matter our true intent, there will always be those who judge. This journey is not for those people.

It’s for the rest of you.

Know that I have good news to share as well. This journey will be positive. A whole lot’s of positive.

“No one gets to ruin your life without your permission.
Perspective is a choice every day.” — j-trim

Tonight I am going to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I haven’t been sleeping well. Go figure, right? But I look forward to connecting with all of you this coming year.

Believe it or not, this is the most inspired I have felt in quite some time. Like a weight has been lifted.

When you finally allow yourself to be completely upfront about who you are, it can add new life into everything.

I wish all of you a year in which you fully allow yourself to do the same.

You never know who’s life you may change.

This post originally appeared on TimesUnion.com.

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