If you’ve been around here a while, you know that the past few years have been financial hell for my family.
Three years ago we had to file for bankruptcy. Two and a half years ago foreclosure proceedings started on our house. Two years ago we went on food stamps. Things got worse from there.
Things have not been easy. It has been extremely stressful. My marriage has been through hell.
But we have finally climbed out of the financial black hole. It took four years, but we did it.
And now that we have emerged from the tunnel, now that we not only can see the light but actually have two feet in it, I can sincerely say that I am incredibly grateful for the detour we took to hell and back for the following reasons:
1) I don’t sweat the small stuff like I used to.
Things that used to seem really sucky aren’t so sucky anymore. When you have been on the brink of being homeless, when you have seen not only your car but your fucking garbage cans being repossessed, well, that delusional douche on Facebook making assinine comments really doesn’t bother you so much anymore.
2) I no longer judge people who either have to file for bankruptcy or who lose their homes to foreclosure.
You never know where you will find yourself. YOU NEVER KNOW.
3) I learned to ask for help.
Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything perfectly, but if it were our kids and they were struggling to survive, we would tell them to ask for help. But we so often don’t do this ourselves and model this behavior for our kids.
4) I learned to accept help.
This was harder than asking for help. It’s one thing to put it out there that you are unable to do things by yourself. And people will always tell you that they will do anything to help you. But when the time comes to actually accept help, that can be much more difficult. That makes things real. We often feel that accepting help makes you weak. But I have found it made me stronger than I was before.
5) I stopped living in denial.
At some point you have to start opening those envelopes and coming up with a plan.
6) I learned that being honest is much less stressful and exhausting than constantly trying to pretend.
The amount of effort it takes to maintain appearances is debilitating.
7) I learned that having lots of stuff doesn’t make me happy.
In fact, it makes life much more difficult.
8) I learned to be vulnerable.
The more vulnerable I made myself, the more I realized the next thing.
9) I learned I was not alone.
I cannot tell you how many messages I got from both random strangers and also people in town. People I knew. People who had been exactly where I was, or close to it, anyway. People I never ever would have dreamed could understand what I was going through. If you think your neighbors don’t get it, I promise you. One of them does.
10)I realized there are a lot of really good people out there.
Sure, there are lots of assholes and psychos and just plain irritating people. But there are so many people out there who want to help just because they are genuinely kind, compassionate human beings.
11) I treat the earth with more respect.
When you don’t know if you’re going to be able to buy food one week, you learn how to stretch and to save and to reuse.
12) My children have learned the value of a dollar.
They understand how expensive things are. They know how hard you have to work to earn enough money to pay for something.
13 ) My children appreciate things much more than they ever used to.
A trip to the movies is a big deal. Going out to eat is a big deal. Going on vacation is a REALLY BIG DEAL. They didn’t have an appreciation for these things back before our trouble began. But now they do.
14) It forced me to hold my kids more accountable.
There was no extra money to pay for things. If the kids lost their goggles, they had to buy a new pair with their own money. You know how many pairs of goggles suddenly disappeared once the kids had to use their own money to buy them?
15) My children are more responsible.
I am so so so grateful for this one!!!
16) It showed my kids that I’m not invincible.
I think sometimes as parents we feel we need to be Supermom for our kids. It’s unrealistic. It’s not sustainable. It’s good for your kids to know that you are human. Because that will help them accept that they are, too.
17) My kids gained a huge support system.
Asking for help meant asking for things like rides to school and rides to practices. I used to feel like I had to do every single thing myself. Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders is exhausting. Once I realized that’s just not realistic, I also gained a whole other family for my children. And that took a lot of pressure off of me. It was freeing.
18) It forced me to start getting (sort of) organized.
Being disorganized is not only stressful, but it costs you money! I didn’t have money to begin with. I couldn’t spend more money on shit that I had already bought and then couldn’t find. I needed to get some order.
19) I started simplifying.
And simplifying opened my eyes to what was important to me. And that sure as hell wasn’t more crap to keep track of and clean and attempt to keep organized.
20) We got rid of cable.
Ugh! Thank God for that! What a waste of money (and time) that was. Yeah, we still have TV, but nobody misses the cable. And I am positive we never would have cut that cord if it weren’t for our financial troubles.
21) I realized I am way tougher than I thought I was.
If I can make it through the last four years, I can make it through anything.
22) I stopped taking things for granted.
I stopped comparing my life to other peoples’ lives.
We have a house. We have our health. We have each other. And that’s all that really matters.
It may have taken me four years of hell to figure this out. But I did it.
And for that, I am incredibly grateful.