On Friday, November 21, I signed some papers which put an end to the nightmare that birthed The One Little Thing Project. That Friday was my Black Friday. Now that it is over, almost, I can share the story.
In 2011 after a two year separation, my husband of nearly thirty years and I finalized our divorce. Due to the economy, the house was left in both names. Selling or refinancing was out of the question, due to it being “upside down”. I figured in the future, he would want to sell and I would sign whatever was necessary and whatever he made on it was his.
About 15 months after the divorce, he was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t find out about any of this until the doctors told him there was nothing else they could do. In January of 2014, the battle was lost.
After his death, I waited to hear from the executor to determine what to do with the house. I never got a call. Rather, I got a past due notice from the city for real estate taxes. Conflicting and confusing information followed. It was horrifying to learn that I was over 225,000 in debt and I shared ownership of the property with my two estranged daughters.
I was WAY over my head and sought the help of a real estate agent and real estate attorney to go over the options. I had to pay back bills, judgments, keep up the property and had to wait while others decided my future. I eventually negotiated a short sale with the lender, but each day for more than six months the huge black cloud over my head got larger and darker.
I lived each day in fear. Fear that I’d check my bank account and find it frozen. Fear that the mail would bring another surprise. Fear that my credit, which I had worked so hard to build, would be ruined. Fear that my paycheck would be zero because of a lien or garnishment. Fear the my future would be cat food and a cardboard box.
Living in fear is not a pleasant experience. Eating and sleeping were a problem. Keeping my mind on work was a problem. Making ANY decision was a problem.
But what I learned through this adversity will last a lifetime:
- What was done was done – if only’s didn’t change a thing.
- Live on day at a time – tackle one problem at a time – try not to get caught up in what if’s.
- Ask for help and accept support – lean on others and respect their expertise.
- Work on Plan A but having a Plan B or C gave me comfort.
- Don’t forget the good things in your life – hang on to them and let them encourage you.
- Let go – the Serenity Prayer helped me tremendously on my darkest days.
- Ignoring things will not make them go away – take what action you can – actually doing something can give you a feeling of control.
- Take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally – eat right or even better, exercise and practice relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation – all these things will help you deal with stress.
- Don’t stop living – as tempting as it might be to hide or do nothing, keep living as normally as possible. Yes you may have to change some things or scale back but don’t stop living as normal a life as possible. It is still okay to have a little fun.
While I’m sure there will be more fallout, I’m confident that I can get through it with what I’ve learned. And most of all, despite it all, I’ve learned how to be truly happier!