When tough times hit

We survived.  We’re settled into our new little (little!) home and we’re actual functioning human beings again.

For a long while there we were in survival mode.  When you are ‘drowning’, you have no time to do anything except try to keep breathing air, try to keep alive, try not to give up.  If someone is not helping you, it feels like they are simply pushing you under or splashing big loads of awful water into your lungs.  Vindictive bastards.  As a drowning person you are not open minded.  And you certainly don’t have any scope to see anybody else’s problems/lakes/oceans.  Pure survival mode.  Not pretty but it serves its purpose.

In the past, we’ve had the normal (and not so normal) stresses of life, and somehow have been lucky enough to almost ‘take turns’ in feeling the effects.  Like, when I’ve been losing my grip, my husband has been strong/positive/supportive, and when he’s needed me to be the strong one, I’ve been able.  It must be a pre-designed thing; sometimes you carry and sometimes you need to be carried.

Being in a suddenly unaffordable debt-carrying situation and having to make the huge decision to sell our house, our home, our base? Totally new and uncharted territory.  Definitely goes in the NOT normal list of life stresses.

How do you cope when you are both so tightly wound that you can barely keep yourself afloat but know you need to be there for your spouse?  With difficulty, I assure you.  Realising this new space you’re in is essential.  TALKING to each other about this new space is MORE ESSENTIAL.  I’m hating where we’re at & I know that you’re hating it too, it’s awful that we’re not in that one-up, one-down space, please know that I’m here with you; I just don’t know what to say or do but I love you!  Talk to each other!

Delays (and more ridiculous delays) during our house sale process meant we were going to be three, and in some cases four or five, months late with various bill payments.  As business owners ourselves, we learned a long time ago that the only way to be a decent customer was to KEEP IN CONTACT with the person you owe money to.  Nothing worse than having to chase people who owe you money.  A simple phone call to say, listen, I know I’m late, I’m still stuck but will be paying as soon as I possibly can, goes a long way to easing a ‘normal’ business owner’s mind.

The problem is, in this day and age, it’s not possible to talk to a real-life thinking, feeling, human being in the accounts department about your situation and the fact that you’re going to be paying asap.  Instead, what you get is:-

DAY 1 — You phone and politely explain your current situation and why your debit order will definitely be bouncing.

DAY 3 — You receive capitalised text (and email) stating your debit order has bounced and “as per your arrangement” (what arrangement??) your debit order will repeat next week and you better have enough funds in your account to cover it.

DAY 3 — You phone and get a different person (most probably in a different call centre and different city) and politely explain everything again and that there was no ‘arrangement’ made and there will be no funds until house sale or miraculous windfall.

DAY 5 —  You receive reminder text and numerous call-centre phone calls and hangups (what’s with call centre hang ups ffs?).

DAY 5 — You again call, and again get a different person, and again explain…..

Basically, repeat the above each and every week for the entire 3, 4, 5 months.  There is no reprieve, there is no relief, there is no fresh breath of air.  You are digitally and telephonically bombarded and have nobody with brain power to talk to.  Each ‘person’ you speak to follows a set script and has no ability to think for themselves.  Madness!

What was shocking (not sure why it was shocking but it was, for us) was that the bank, who we’ve banked with for years, was just as maddening to deal with.  Two weeks before the official lodging of our house sale, our account where the money from the house sale was to be eft’d, was suspended due to bounced debit orders.  For real.  Even though it had a credit balance.  Even though we had kept in contact with the bank and even though the eejit debit ordering companies did so in error. *insert floral language here*

BUT!!  And this is a huge but.  Remind yourself and each other that you are dealing with call centre minions and they have absolutely no clue that you are even a human being.  You are a name and number listed on a giant list of people that they have to contact on any given day. They are not attacking you personally and the ridiculous scripted protocol they follow (including the millions of texts, emails, posted reminders, threats, etc) is simply that; a preprogrammed protocol that has nothing to do with you personally.  It has nothing to do with the amount (big or small) that you owe, it has nothing to do with your moral standing, your past impeccable (or not) credit record, and absolutely NOTHING to do with you.  Nothing at all.  By the way, don’t take your stress out on the call centre minions either.  They’re simply doing a thankless job for a wage that they need.  

When you’re both so stressed that you can’t take it any more, get out of the house and away from routine.  Walk on that promenade, stroll barefoot in that park, eat those ice cream cones, babysit those friends’ kids.  Do alive stuff even if you can’t do your own regular alive stuff.  Don’t turn on each other – BE with each other.  Be there for each other even when you can’t be, you know?

You’re gonna be okay.  Truly.

* I am adding this in late.   I don’t know why I left it out.  I guess I wanted this post to maybe help a desperately Googling debt-drowning person no matter what their beliefs.  Anyhow.  During this whole time, it was incredibly hard to stay faith-filled.  DO remind each other that God is for you.  DO remind each other that there’s been many times before when God has come through, even when you’ve thought it was too late.  DO remember that He is not distant and ignoring or unaware of your anguish and fear.  DO pray!





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