Facing Reality - When You're Afraid
Updated: Jan 24
"All human unhappiness comes from not facing reality, squarely exactly how it is." - Budda
What do you do when your life is falling apart?
It seems so much easier to turn away (or run away) from reality, especially when the truth is an ugly one. Fear could be the reason we all justify our avoidance starting the diet on New Year's, putting the unopened credit card bills in the junk drawer, or putting off an awkward conversation. We are afraid to confront our reality! Who could blame us, when reality may include debt, unhappy marriage, overeating, or depression. Who can honestly say that they hadn't had times in their life when they purposely strayed away from a conversation when the opportunity arose because they were afraid to address the issue?
On some level, we are all chickens!
I try my best to address any issue in my life that may be a source of current or future pain. When I know I have to tackle something I would prefer not to, I put on my big girl pants, take a deep breath, and get after the task. I'm not getting on my high horse, trust me. The reason I try to face reality head-on, instead of burying my head in the sand, is because I learned a painful lesson about how hiding makes life worse. I learned that pretending as if everything is fine, eventually blows up in your face. I experienced first hand that just because I choose not to see what was happening didn't change reality.
Running away from my reality cost me my home, my cars, my income, and almost cost me my marriage.
It was winter of 2008, the beginning of the great recession. Our little family of five lived in an expensive ski resort town. We drove a brand new Sequoia. We dressed in name brand clothes. From the outside, we looked like we had everything together, the perfect little middle-class family.
The reality, we were in debt beyond belief.
We had car loans, credit cards, home mortgage, a Tri-plex mortgage, and a HELOC (home equity line of credit). Yep, we were doing a pretty good job with "keeping up with the Jones'." To top it all off, my husband was a loan officer for the home mortgage industry. We all know how that turned out for anyone in the housing market in 2008. You guessed it, and he lost his job. One would think that with the deck stacked against us financially, we would NOW see what we were up against and deal with it.
Denial is a strong emotion! I was the queen and my husband, the king of denial.
I was sitting at the computer paying bills, of course, there wasn't enough money in our account to cover the bills. I did what I usually did, went to transfer money out of our HELOC into our checking account.
YES, you heard me correctly. We were living off of our HELOC, which we used to pay our monthly loan payments. I'm not proud of it! We were way, way, way deep in the rabbit hole.
DENIED! ALL ACCOUNTS FROZEN!
"Holy Shit! No, no, no, this is not happening!" I screamed at the computer.
Reality smacked me across the face.
I was devastated, depressed, embarrassed, and incredibly clueless as to what we would do. We had been running away from our financial reality because we were afraid of what the Jones' would think, ruining our credit, going without, losing our house, losing our cars, and being poor. News flash we were already broke, we were only pretending not to be.
I blamed my husband, and he blamed me. Our marriage was a pressure cooker. I was now looking at the possibility of divorce in addition to financial ruin. I got real with myself. What matters to me? When the dust settled from this battle, what did I want to see standing? I wanted to see my children and my husband. I thought of holding and kissing them and saying, "We are alive; we made it through this battle." I loved my family, above all else! I came to the bedroom where my husband was reading.
I held him and started to cry. "I love you more than any amount of money. I will love you in a van down by the river." We held each other crying. At that moment, our love deepened.
Once we faced our debt reality, we could then create a plan. We got up, brushed ourselves off and started again. We sold the cars and anything else we possibly could. We had to short-sale the house and the Tri-plex. We both picked up extra jobs to help pay off our debt. Three years later, we were debt-free.
I learned the lesson the universe wanted to teach me. It was painful enough that ever since that experience, I look my reality in the eyes.