"Bankruptcy is a Beginning"

Life After Bankruptcy Stories

Bankruptcy is a beginning, not an end.

I still remember the day that I filed for bankruptcy in California 6 years ago. I tell you, I was a mess not knowing what was going to happen to me, if I ever could be self-sufficient again or how I could erase what I thought would thenceforth be a scarlet B emblazoned across my chest.

I couldn't have been more wrong. Filing bankruptcy, in fact, turned out to be the best thing to happen to me financially in the past 10 years.

First, it laid to rest all the emotional hand wringing and nights losing sleep ruminating about where I was going to come up with the money to pay that next (or last!) bill. It established a clear path and priority to which creditors would get their money and following what schedule.

Second, it took away the guesswork - who I should pay? How much? When? There was no more competition amongst creditors for my money or attention - no more need to scramble for a stopgap, but ultimately ineffective, financial quick fix to my problems. No, now I was in for the comfortable long-haul and could take a reasoned, visionary approach to my financial recovery.

Another important aspect of the bankruptcy process for me is that it served two psychological purposes - first, it gave me the sense of control back over my life. I was taking a concrete action to get my affairs back in order.

Second, it gave a sense of accountability to some of my past mistakes. I couldn't hide from myself anymore and rationalize that the business decisions I had made or spending misjudgements I had committed were ok. Rather, I was admitting that things hadn't worked out as planned, but that life went on.

Sometimes, owning up to shortcomings can be a genuinely empowering experience and, for me, this was one of them.

A pleasant side effect I found of the bankruptcy experience is that it did not carry the stigma that I feared it might. Many people looked up to me, in fact, for taking the bull by the horns and getting back on.

So, now when a friend or loved one asks me about the option of bankruptcy, I counsel them that it is an option that they should consider openly and without trepidation if the financial conditions warrant it. There are "ways out," and bankruptcy can be one of them.

It was for me.

Contributed by Eric from California