Walt Disney said, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
Well, I was definitely getting a good kick in the teeth.
To get to the point where you file for bankruptcy you have to hit rock bottom. However, getting to that point is a gradual decline. It does not happen over night.
As things continued to deteriorate, I continued to naively believe that I could turn things around and get back on top of this mess that I had made for myself and my family. I just needed a little bit of luck and I needed to work harder. I think that’s a reasonable response to a self-inflicted challenge, don’t you? Funny thing though, it takes a long time for reality to set in when you become desperate. And I was desperate. That desperation quickly turned to depression. That depression fluctuated between depression and anger.
Well I’m tired of being angry. I’ve been angry for a long time and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere.
When you file for bankruptcy, the first thing you do is fill out a bankruptcy packet. The purpose of this is to give the bankruptcy court an in-depth look at your financial history. If they’re going to grant you bankruptcy relief, they want to know everything about you. In addition to that, they want you to understand what went wrong so that the same thing doesn’t happen again. Sounds pretty reasonable, right?
I had to provide them a detailed asset and liability sheet, a profit and loss statement, tax returns, and in my case the most emotionally draining document, a detailed list of all of our possessions and a value. Why was this so difficult? Because it caused me to look at my possessions and realize that this is what I had worked my whole life for. Nothing but stuff. Crap really. Don’t get me wrong, I like having nice things, but it really shed a light on what my priorities had been.
The real questions I started to ask myself were, “Outside of this stuff I’ve accumulated, what is my life worth?” “Do my kids know I love them?” “Do they know they are more important to me than anything else in the world?” “Does Michelle, my wife know I love her, and do I show that in a way that she not only knows it, but feels it?” “Have I made an impact in the world that I can truly feel proud of?” “What is my legacy?” I’d been kicked in the mouth with a steel-toed boot. I’m not satisfied with how I answered any of those questions. I’d become just another rat in the cage, working to survive and surviving to work.
We are all faced with the challenge of coming to know who we are. We must individually decide what our personal values are and then commit to living by those values. No one else should have that power over us. It is an individual mandate. What did I learn from filling out those bankruptcy forms? Man, know thyself.
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