Tagbankruptcy

Do Not Break

Sometimes everything seems hopeless. But, a proverb says that the branch that bends in the wind does not break.

Ten weeks after leaving, getting back to Texas became all I could think about. I missed everything about it–having places to go, the big open sky above me, and of course my husband was there. Keeping a relationship alive by phone and Skype is difficult. [I applaud military wives; I was a basket case within two months–I have no idea how they do it for a whole deployment.]

You have no idea how long I made fun of this place for, until I moved there and fell in love. Seriously.

We fought often, usually over stupid things. He was terse, working all day and going home to a tiny room in a messy house, having to stay in his room after 9 pm every night. I was snappish after trying to keep my nephew from hurting my daughter all day, then trying to feed her and I healthy food using a microwave and a dorm fridge. Spoiler alert: she subsisted off microwave macaroni and cheese, crab sticks, baby carrots, and milk. She became addicted to “juice” [kool-aid] due to her six year old cousin constantly having a sippy cup of it, and is currently in withdrawal from that. I rarely ate and lost twenty pounds while I was there. My husband lived off fast food and pantry-stable snacks due to not being able to use the kitchen where he lived. His gout came back. I developed plantar fascitis. [This was due to having to favor my opposite foot back when I tore the ligament and not due to anything that happened while I was gone, it just happened to show up recently.] I hate admitting this.

I tried to make the best of it, but the truth was that we were miserable.

I don’t begrudge anyone any of it though. I know how lucky we were to have a roof over our heads for these past few months. I know how difficult it is to both share your home with people [even if they are family] and the guilt of staying in someone’s home and feeling like a complete burden. It’s not a situation I wanted to stay in forever, and though I love my family, the stress wore on me. I wanted to be in my own place again.

So about seven weeks in we had enough in savings to start looking at places to rent. I called management companies, private parties, and contacted apartment locators, but heard the same thing: you can’t do anything until your bankruptcy closes. Even then, no one will want you.

I was hitting the same wall on my own–no bankruptcies within the past ten years. Well isn’t that as long as one stays on record? Just say no bankruptcies! Why the weird wording? We found people that would rent to convicted felons before they would rent to people with a BK on their record. What? How is that…? Apparently stealing a car or murdering someone is more forgivable than saying, “We screwed up and had to use our mulligan.” The only reason we had to file was to protect ourselves from a predatory lender, not because we mismanaged our money. But no one wants to listen. It’s a sob story.

I found an apartment locator that claimed to help people in my situation. He was nice and responsive for the first three days we spoke. Now it’s been over a week since I have heard from him. Same as the rest, he dropped us and didn’t even have the courtesy to let us know. I wasn’t aware that we became sub-human scum during the past two and a half months!

That’s when the hopelessness hit–I would never go back to my beloved Texas. My husband seemed to hate the thought of speaking to me. We were probably going to get a divorce and I would be trapped in rural Missouri, forever.

Then the depression came, and I cried for days, non-stop. My parents don’t believe in depression, so they pretty much told me to put on my big girl panties and get over it. My husband wasn’t much help either. All he would say is, “I don’t know what you want me to say”, which made me cry harder. If he wasn’t willing to even put in a effort to reassure me, what was the point of struggling through this?

I felt useless. Hopeless. No one cared.

Moar crying gifs!

I laid in bed, and wished that I didn’t exist, because this whole situation had to be all my fault; if I didn’t exist, then this wouldn’t be happening. The only reason I was alive was to waste air and fuck everything up.

I don’t know what finally made my husband realize I was serious about feeling so bad, but one day he called and told me, “You are coming back here. We are going to live in my mother’s dining room until we find a place. It will suck, but at least we will all be together.”

Two days and an overnight car ride later I ended up back in Texas, living in a dining room on an air mattress. Seeing my husband again was awkward. I still love him, but it feels like we are such different people now. I think everything is being colored by my depression, which didn’t fully go away, and a serious lack of privacy. I’m trying to fake being ok until we get back into our own place, which I hope will dispel the rest of the feelings I have. We had to leave our cats at my parent’s temporarily because we weren’t allowed to bring them, so that could be a huge part of it. I feel terribly guilty over that. I don’t like feeling like this at all, but I know there is not much I can do about it until our situation changes. So until then…

Counting my blessings.

Swimming through the hopelessness.

Bending so that I don’t break.

Note #1: I am divulging this because I made a promise to myself to be open and honest with my readers and fans about my life. Life is never entirely sunshine and roses, and we shouldn’t pretend that it is. It sets up an “ideal life” that no one will ever be able to achieve.

Note #2: Due to this, my writing was… non-existent, so I lost a few weeks of time. This will push the release date of Atlantis: TVC Volume #2 back to Fall. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Note #3: I’ve been working on this post for a while, and while it was in draft, our bankruptcy closed. Hopefully this makes apartments more amenable to working with us! *fingers crossed*

Life, The Universe, and Nothing

I have typed up this post twice now, and scrapped it the same number of times. [Third time’s the charm, right?]

I am trying to strike a balance between giving too much information, too little information, and giving excuses. This is important, and I tried to write it with the seriousness that it deserves, but I can’t. When times are tough, I fall back on humor.

I never thought I’d be able to use this one, but it just works!

So you’ll have to forgive me if I say too much, and if some of what I am about to say sounds like I am trying to shift blame or is too crazy to be true. It’s really not. This is one hell of an absurd story, and it really should be told. It sounds like some soap opera screenwriters and a few joke tuner rejects from the network sitcoms got together and penned this monstrosity. This is long, so be warned.

So, without further ado…

It’s a strange world we live in, one where the fear of other people knowing that we have failed is often worse than the failure itself.

I am typing this from my laptop, while I sit on a bed in a section of my mother’s house called “The Alcove”, my two year-old daughter, two of our dogs, and our two cats sleeping beside me. We are both what feels like a million miles away from my husband, [even though in reality it’s only 767] and the only people who know what happened to cause this–and why–could be counted on both hands.

Some of the people that don’t know are people we have known since childhood. One of them was a bridesmaid at my wedding! What could have happened that is so deep and dark that someone I speak to often doesn’t know?

Foreclosure.

Bankruptcy.

I feel like less of a person for even typing those words–not because I feel like less of a person due to them, but because of how I feel people will perceive me after seeing them associated with my name.

It’s not contagious, dammit!

The downhill slide started slowly at first–a few months before our daughter was born, my husband received an offer for a higher paying job at a competing company, so he took it. A month after I had her, he was laid off because the project he was hired for was cancelled. We ended up a little late on bills while he looked for a new job. We tried our best to not let the mortgage fall behind, but unfortunately we ran out of savings. He found a new job, but while waiting for his first check to come in, we ended up in late payment land.

I did the proper thing and called our lender, letting them know that we were going through a rough time and would be a little late that month. I expected that I would receive fake consolation and a gentle reminder that there would be a late fee when we did pay. Instead, I was read the riot act–I was shamed, told I should have had an abortion, and called all sorts of names. I hung up on the woman, crying so hard that I couldn’t breathe. [I had some health issues after the baby was born–Postpartum Pre-eclampsia–so I ended up in the ER that night after my blood pressure spiked and wouldn’t drop.]

Looking back, we should have sold the place immediately after that. But we wanted to have that dream–our own home, a family, etc., so we didn’t. Hindsight is always 20/20. Instead we borrowed money from family and caught up, vowing to never let it happen again.

In August of last year, our mortgage company suddenly decided to double our monthly payment. There was no rhyme or reason to it. My husband called in to question it, and the first representative [the one who made me cry several years back] kept berating him, telling him to just “shut up and pay it if he didn’t want to be a deadbeat”. He finally was able to get transferred to a supervisor, who did not apologize for the previous woman’s behavior, but told us the reason for the increase was because of an increase on the homeowner’s insurance. The insurance they insisted we had to have through their personal company in order for them to fund the loan.

They also demanded that he pay it immediately. Surprise!

Since they wouldn’t review it, and they were hiding behind the excuse that it was the homeowners insurance, we told them we wouldn’t be able to afford the house any longer. They told us that based on our income, we could afford the house as long as we didn’t pay any other bills BUT our mortgage, so we didn’t qualify for any of their programs. They also said that we weren’t trying hard enough, and that we should–gasp–pay them immediately. That’s right, their solution was for us to stop paying our utilities, buying food, and spending money on gas for the car in order to pay them.

This didn’t seem right, so I ended up on Google, and found no less than three webpages detailing this companies’ horrible business practices, along with several class action lawsuits against them. I had searched for the company years before when we had first signed the loan paperwork, and found none of these sites. They were all recent.

If we had found them, we would have sent this instead of signing the loan…

We didn’t pay; there was no other choice. As the months and phone calls went by, we looked into foreclosure laws, and started to save up for a few months, with plans of moving into an apartment, then voluntarily surrendering the home. Unfortunately, life had other plans.

Life, in it’s natural state [laughing at your misery]
My husband lost his job. We don’t know exactly why, because they don’t have to tell anyone why. He suspects that it was due to him saying something [that was true, requested information that he thought he was allowed to give] to a customer that his employer didn’t like. So we ended up with no income at all for a while, and paid the utilities from savings. Things were tight.

We aren’t sure why the mortgage company was so aggressive with the phone calls, but so slow to actually foreclose. Some days we felt lucky they were hesitating, because it gave us more time to get savings together. On the other hand, living in constant fear of that knock on your door telling you you had to vacate was terrifying. The longer it went, the more stressful it became.

When it finally happened, we were all in the middle of THE FLU. Not the “Oh I have the flu” kind of flu, but the serious, “Oh shit, I was tested and this is legit–I need anti-virals” flu. Me, my husband, and the baby; all the biggest mess of shivering bodily functions you’ve ever seen. My husband [I really need a pseudonym for him…] has the best immune system of us all, so he was the one voted “Most Well Enough to Answer the Door“.

But, instead of foreclosure docs and an order for us to vacate, it was us being served with a lawsuit! From the mortgage company!

In a rare stroke of good luck for us, it was March, and we had just received our tax return, so we lawyer-ed up with a quickness, and they recommended… bankruptcy. [Imagine the last word is echoing for effect]

I never, ever, EVER thought it would come down to that. Not only were we dealing with the Big F, but the Big B as well? Fuck. We failed. Send in the Failboat.

So we sucked it up and filed to protect ourselves. Turns out it was a good thing; the mortgage company lied their pants off–the value of the house, how much we still owed, when we stopped paying, who our representative was–all of it! It was insane how much paperwork I had to submit to prove they were lying, because they doctored the hell out of their own paperwork. It made me ill to think that we had been doing business with these people this whole time, not knowing how badly they would try to screw us over in the end.

Since my husband was still out of work, we weren’t able to move into an apartment as we had planned. So instead, we decided to put everything we owned into storage, and for my husband to stay behind in Texas with a friend to look for work while the baby and I went to stay with my mother in another state. It wasn’t ideal, and we were both upset at having to be apart–possibly for several months–but it was the only way.

This past Friday we loaded everything we owned into storage. I had reserved one large unit online, but due to a mishap it was unavailable when I went the morning of to sign for it, so we ended up in two different, smaller units some distance apart in the facility. It was drizzling, and we both had very little sleep in the past few days. Emotions were running high, and my mother wanted to leave before the storm came in. Everything happened so quickly that before I knew it, I was on the first leg of a twelve-hour car ride with a toddler who hated sitting in the car for more than half an hour, two dogs, and two unhappy cats.

Now, from the start of this post, you would think that things loop around about this point, and this is where I say some closing words, about how much I miss my husband [terribly] and how crappy it is living in the literal middle of nowhere, [it is] and how ashamed I am that we lost our house. [Very]

But, like with any good movie, if you sit past the credits, you get a bonus scene!

We arrived at my mother’s place around 3 am. We drove through a terrible storm in Oklahoma, so we were tired, cranky, and out of sorts. We crashed, and I awoke late the next day to a voicemail informing me that our storage facility–the one we’d moved our entire life into the day before–had been hit by a tornado.

It has been three days since I heard that voicemail. I have called several times for updates, and I have received zero information more from the business, because the city won’t let them back to evaluate the damage. Of course, because we live in the age of the internet, I found a picture online of the damage. It’s bad. The whole right side of the facility is gone, and there is even more damage that we cannot see from the photo. Giant moving trucks were torn open like aluminum cans, shredded into strips and/or strewn along the highway beside the facility like sheets of aluminum foil. Trailers were flung into the building, and along the road as well.

Source: KXAN
Tornadoed. [Source: KXAN]
Since there was an error and we had two units, there is a chance one may have been spared. I honestly don’t have my hopes up with our track record lately, but we won’t know for sure until the city lets people back in to assess the damage.

So here I am, separated from the love of my life, [who won’t see his beloved wife, daughter, or pets for several months] in the middle of Nowhere, USA, [The nearest town, which is twenty minutes away, has two–TWO–stoplights now. Hot damn!] and possibly having to start completely over when we finally return.

Part of this is our fault. I will readily admit that we made some bad decisions and didn’t know how to handle any of what happened. The rest is equal parts dumb luck, horrible people, and vicious acts of freakin’ nature.

I honestly don’t know what will happen from here on out.

Is starting Wandows Ngrmadly REALLY the right option?

Of course, we’ll have to work on rebuilding our credit, and find a co-signer or co-signing service to get into a new place once my husband is employed again. I expected to feel relieved now that this has all come to pass, but I don’t. I feel hollow, and dejected. I feel like crap both emotionally and physically. I don’t feel like a weight has been lifted at all.

Before, I thought that the foreclosure and bankruptcy would be the hardest part. Letting go of our pride and admitting defeat hurt, yes, but now that we’re standing at the base of the mountain that we have to scale it looms before us, dauntingly. We realize now that the hardest part is yet to come. I don’t think many people understand that unless they’ve been through it before.

We might not have a possession to our name except the ones we brought with us, but at least in the end, we’ll still have each other. That’s what counts, right?