Tuesday, November 18, 2008

BlogSecret: Anonymity

Well, it's the 18th. BlogSecret day. Last Friday I wrote up my secret and sent it out to Nilsa at SoMi. On Sunday evening I received the secret I'm to post. It reproduced below, unedited and unabridged. I haven't even read it yet -- I just cut-and-pasted it over from my email.



I never thought writing an anonymous post would be so difficult - but the opportunity to write about virtually anything was almost overwhelming! Should I talk about that time in college when the paramedics came, or maybe I should write about how hard it's been trying to get pregnant.

Then I realized that, for the most part, my blog already is anonymous. My husband doesn't know about it, nor do any of my friends and only one family member knows - but she stumbled upon it by accident and has since lost interest in reading what is basically a journal (she probably would have killed for the opportunity when we were young). So if I already have anonymity what do I have to tell that I wouldn't want to put on my blog?

And then it hit me, there is one thing that I've never told anyone else. It's the thing that only my husband knows (well a fair number of strangers and court people too, but no one I actually know). We declared bankruptcy this year.

Now you may think that there is no shame in declaring bankruptcy, tons of people do it every year and it's no big deal. And you'd be right, it's probably not a big deal to most people and given the financial situation that we were in we really didn't have another choice. But for me it was a huge deal - it meant that we had failed. We had failed at being adults, at being normal everyday citizens. To me it seemed that we had become those people that couldn't take responsibility for their own lives and had to be rescued by the government. We were taking a hand-out.

I'm assuming that I felt this way because of how I was raised. We were always well-off enough that we never really needed any assistance. Even the times that our family was in a financial hard place, I don't remember my parents having to ask for assistance from family, friends or government. I was raised knowing that you made your bed and you had to sleep in it - so when we had made our financial situation unbearable it still seemed to me that it was our responsibility to fix it, not someone else's.

I've since gotten over that feeling, to a degree. I realize that we really did not have a choice in the matter. It was either declare bankruptcy and save our house or lose everything. I've also accepted the fact that it was not just our fault - sure we had some bad spending habits, but our loss of income and move had severely impacted our ability to pay for things that we had purchased long ago. I also realize that having to declare bankruptcy has made us better at managing our money and we've become more responsible spenders and savers.
The only thing I haven't gotten over is the sense of shame and failure that I still carry with me - and I'm not sure that I should. Shame is a powerful motivator and maybe it can keep me motivated to never let our finances get out of control again.

As for telling anyone else, well, let's just keep that between us for now.


If you want to read more of BlogSecret, SoMi has a participants blogroll posted here.


Holly said...

I'm sorry you and your husband are in this situation. I imagine it must be really difficult.
I don't really have any good advice, other than to say that yes, you might have "failed' once, but that doesn't mean you are a permanent failure. There is something you can do about it, and by the sound of it, you're already doing it. :)

ExMi (expensive mistakes and cheap thrills) said...

to make a mistake is not to fail.

this mistake is not fatal.

wishing you all the strength to pick yourselves back up again, and keep your chin up high....

Michelle said...

What an awful thing to go through. Good luck picking yourselves back up and moving on!

saratogajean said...

I'm glad that you are using this as a learning experience and changing the way you manage your money.

That is a victory!

-I survived BlogSecret '08

Nilsa said...

I have very mixed feelings about bailing out people who have made poor decisions for themselves (hello banks and car industry!). But, I'm also a compassionate person. And I believe that if you're in trouble, asking for help and willing to make sincere changes in your life going forward, then the community around you should help you get back on your feet. Thank you for recognizing that you do need to make some personal changes if you want to stay afloat in the future. Good luck!

Belle Ecrivaine said...

I'm sorry that you feel ashamed about your financial burden. Just take solace in knowing that many people are also struggling like you, and it doesn't make you a failure. Like you said, hopefully you'll use this pain to make better decisions in the future.

adriana said...

What a tough decision! I understand why you don't want to tell people, even though I also would say that it's not something to be ashamed of. The economy sucks. Situations change. Hopefully, you two will move forward with your lives and recover from the hardships you're dealing with right now.

Lacey Bean said...

I hope that eventually the feeling of shame goes away for you, because you did the right, responsible thing once you were already in that situation.

I had credit card debt until a little while ago, and only my boyfriend and a close friend knew. It's a hard thing to try and tell people.

Katie said...

I'm so sorry that this had to happen. Unfortunately, the economy is horrible right now. I know its also hard to deviate away from the way you were raised. Its hard to admit defeat, especially over something like the economy.

You could have just not paid anything and let it all go sour, like many of the people I deal with at work. But, you admitted defeat, and you can rebuild from there.

TC said...

I'm sorry you had such a tough year. I think that right now especially is no time to be ashamed. Learn from the mistakes that put you there, and know that other people have been there too.

Princess Pointful said...

Nothing leaves you feeling powerless quite like money (or lack of it) does. Even my brief experiences with unexpected debt were hard to shake from every waking moment. I hope you are able to have a great new beginning, though.

Mandy said...

Finances are a very personal thing to discuss. I hope you and your husband can move forward and the feeling of shame goes away. You did what you needed to do at the time.

Anonymous said...

I went bankrupt at 27 and it saved my life. I learned how to be fiscally responsible and if you can take the lesson with you, any shame you may feel (whihc you shouldn't) is well worth it.

May I recommed the book "Personal Finance for Dummies" by Eric Tyson - very insightful and a good post bankruptcy primer.