Dear Liz: After 25 years as a homemaker and mother, I was divorced. I had to find work, create an income and begin life over. I am now 65 and in very good health, with loving children and a small business. But I am in debt and have no savings for the future. I awake each day to find I have more debt. It’s not healthy debt that I could handle, but over-the-top debt that I will never be able to repay. I acknowledge that I have a Cinderella princess mentality, thinking a prince will come along to rescue me, and that I’ve lived an upper-middle-class lifestyle that’s beyond my means. I have done my emotional work in overcoming the idea that I’m a victim and thus not responsible for my situation. But I still can’t act. My children do not know of my immediate disaster nor do my clients. I feel frozen and unable to reconcile myself to the inevitable, disrupting their lives and their image of me. What now?
Answer: You act.
Emotional work is all fine and good, but it’s pretty useless if you’re not using your insights to change the way you behave.
And, as you intimated, you’re behaving like a child. Children can believe in fairy tales and last-minute rescues, but grown-ups take charge of their own lives.
This won’t be fun. If you truly can’t repay this debt, you may end up filing bankruptcy or negotiating settlements with your creditors. You may have to move and live a more basic lifestyle.
But every day you delay, you’re adding to the pile of debt you owe. And you already have two things–good health and loving kids–that many rich people would trade their fortunes to achieve. Keep that in mind in the coming difficult days.