When Being in Debt is Better
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I’m restless today. Irritable. Unmotivated and uninspired. I’m impatient and I’m tired of being in debt.
I hate when I get in funks like this but it happens every so often. Sometimes when I’m focusing on a goal, I obsess about it. The more I focus on reaching the goal, the longer it seems to take to get there. When I go through these phases, I make a conscious effort to shift my mindset back to one of gratitude instead of wanting and self-pity.
For the past ten months, I have been relentless about paying off my credit card debt. It’s almost gone…all $8,000. It’s been a rollercoaster ride. I feel the highs of making those $800 payments and then the lows of being set back by unexpected life expenses.
There is nothing pretty about paying off debt. There’s no easy way to do it, no quick way to fix it. It tries you emotionally. It tests your dedication and your persistence. It’s hard and it’s gritty and some never succeed.
How I got here
Paying off my credit card debt to this point has been an especially emotional journey because of how I accumulated the debt in the first place.
Fourteen months ago, I was an alcoholic that had nothing to offer the world or anybody in it. I was jobless, penniless, and would’ve been homeless if it weren’t for a couple people looking out for me. At the end of my drinking, I couldn’t even get out of bed without a blood alcohol level of about .2%.
Yes, I was in debt…even worse than I am now.
But I was also out of hope. I couldn’t find very many things to be thankful for in my life and I was running out of places to turn. I didn’t know what the future looked like for me. Most of the time I didn’t even know what the next day looked like. I didn’t know what I wanted, who I was or what I stood for.
Yes, I was in debt.
But, even worse, I was morally bankrupt
I had surpassed being in debt in my personal life. I was bankrupt, at the point of no return. Hitting the reset button and starting over was my only option.
As I continued down the rabbithole of addiction, I turned into somebody that I had never thought I would be. I broke the law, putting myself and others in danger. I was a burden to society.
There wasn’t anybody in my life that I hadn’t pushed away. I treated them poorly, manipulating, using and taking advantage of them. I said things to people that I would never say sober, things I could never imagine saying and doing now.
When I was asked what my goals or ambitions were, I didn’t know what to say. My addiction got me to a place where I had no hopes or desires other than to wake up and get wasted.
I hated myself and what I had become. There was a good person inside of me, but that person was drowning in booze. The only logical next step in my life was the one that I didn’t want to take. I had to get sober.
I finally filed moral bankruptcy in April 2016
It took an act of force to get me into treatment. I had violated my probation and the only way I could get myself out of jail was to agree to be on an alcohol monitor. The criminal justice system gave me an ultimatum: stay on the monitor or go to treatment.
I chose treatment. I didn’t want to live the way I had been living anymore. So I chose treatment.
I went to treatment for 25 days, worked hard, graduated and went home. I got my drivers license back, did my community service, went to AA six days a week and didn’t worry about getting a job right away.
Yes, I was in debt.
But my debt wasn’t my first priority. My recovery was my first priority because I knew that if I didn’t focus on myself and getting better, I would relapse and go back to being the person I was. The morally bankrupt person. That was not what I wanted.
Why I’m grateful for my debt
In those two months between getting out of treatment and me going back to work, I all but maxed out my credit cards trying to pay my fines and fees related to my DWI, stay caught up on my bills and stay healthy. I topped out my credit card debt at $8,000. But I also saved my own life. I was sober.
Today I am feeling restless because I am getting close to the end of that $8,000 in credit card debt and I just want it to be gone. Once my credit card debt is gone I can focus on other financial goals. But maybe it’s not such a bad thing to still have $1400 in credit card until the beginning of next month when I pay it off.
Because while I’m still in debt today, I’m also a good person that has something to offer to others and to the world. My dog isn’t scared of me anymore and my niece and nephews know who I am.
I have people that turn to me for advice and others that depend on me to be there when they need a friend. I’m reliable.
My family and friends don’t have to lay awake at night anymore, scared about getting a phone call hearing that I’m dead. I have a bright future and I’m going to be a millionaire someday.
Today is not that day. Yes, I’m still in debt.
But I’m not morally bankrupt. I’ll take that over being debt free any day.