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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?