As I sit here contemplating the destruction that debt wreaks in so many individual’s lives, I am struck by the fact that debt is never something that is talked about with pride. You never hear someone happily proclaiming how “deep they are in”. Rather, it is something that we commonly try to hide, and that is a taboo subject in most conversations.
I have taken a long, scary ride on the roller coaster of debt. I have felt my stomach tighten and flip as I rocketed to the bottom. And slowly,ever so slowly, I have felt the victory as I climbed my way back to the top. It has been a journey that has challenged me to the core of my being…one that I will never go through again, and I wish nobody else would have to. How has it effected my emotional well being? I will attempt to describe to you what it was like to be drowning…what it was like to be a slave.
Spiraling downward financially was one of the scariest feelings I have ever had. Any thought of impending bills immediately made my pulse rise and the pit of my stomach turn. My mind raced a thousand miles a minute, and any quiet time was an invitation for the monster of fear to take over. Sleep came hard, because I couldn’t relax.
Of course I was responsible for the balances on my accounts. But as I accepted responsibility for what I had created, I was racked by a feeling of intense guilt and self-loathing. How could I have been so stupid? I was surely the most selfish person ever born, to put my family under the stress of debt by my careless spending. (That my husband and I had amassed the debt together didn’t matter to me at the time. In my mind it was all my fault.) I got to the place where I felt guilty spending any money, even for things like groceries or toilet paper. I always felt like I could have done something differently to be more frugal.
I have never felt more angry than I felt at that stage of my life. Anger at friends who weren’t in debt. Anger at myself for mismanaging money. Anger at my husband for not making more money. Sorrowful anger at anyone who appeared successful, because I felt like I would never be there. Even anger at well-meaning individuals who tried to help us out. Happiness seemed like a far away dream that would never again be mine.
Life seemed so hopeless. Every angle we looked at seemed like another bleak tunnel. It seemed futile to look for a glimmer of hope, because all hope was gone. I slept a lot during this time, to escape reality for a few short hours.
These are just some of the feelings that I experienced during our financial crisis. Eventually we did find hope to cling to, and today this despair is behind us. Each individual will deal with the stress of debt in his own way, more or less than I have described, according to personality. But the bottom line is that debt is incredibly stressful. I would not wish it on my worst enemy!