And today had been going so well.
Well, I suppose that would be yesterday, at this point. Being just past midnight and all.
I did something today that was an end, and a beginning: I finished all of the paperwork required to file for Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy. It was a huge relief, having this robin's egg blue paper confirming my case number. Knowing that I can consolidate a myriad of various debts down to a single trustee payment, and that too will eventually be automatically deducted from my paycheck, saving me that worry.
I know two people personally, at work, who have gone through this very thing. They are both wonderful people, people I trust and can count on. They are not some sort of horrible stain on society. One is a caring mother, the other a brilliant engineer. They are everyday people who ran into some bad luck, and yes, probably made a few bad decisions as well.
A while back, I made the mistake of letting slip that I was doing this to folks I know. I have since been labeled as irresponsible, blaming everyone but myself for everything. This has been said both in an open Internet forum, and as I have now learned, behind my back via surreptitious emails and gossip.
I do blame myself. I blame myself so often I have entered pits of despair so deep that I could do nothing but sleep for hours on end. Folks have said I have complained about never seeing people, and then turned down invitations to do things; ironically, this was often due to the fact that I was trying to save money and be responsible. Other times it was just due to the depression.
I blame myself for getting into this mess in the first place, attempting to hold on to this house after I was laid off when the smart thing would've been to turn around and sell it as soon as possible. I have lost control, trying to medicate my sadness by acquiring possessions (which, of course, just added to the debt).
Blame others for everything? I have fought a voice in my head since the first grade telling myself I was worthless, a loser, a waste of flesh clogging up society. I have struggled to make something of myself, and just as I thought I had made it through college and was about to become a successful professional, I was laid off. I'd like to see how they might have managed, being laid off for a year, and then struggling for another to find work -- any work -- to keep going. So many software folks were out of jobs that every single part-time position was taken. I was so blinded by hope that I was taken in by an idiotic employment scam. I even stuffed envelopes with a bunch of high-school kids for a few days.
But apparently it's not enough; I can't blame others for anything. Saying that credit card companies are predatory lenders, for example. No, it all must be entirely my fault, and by availing myself of the Chapter 13 bankruptcy code instead of being in crippling debt for the next twenty years, I am a horrible, horrible person.
I also blame myself for trusting that people I thought I knew would not judge me... and especially not in whispers behind my back. It took me a long time to shift my perspective from "people are basically out to fuck you over" to "people are basically nice," and now I wonder if I overcompensated a bit. Let that guard down a bit too much... let that trust come a little too easily.
I've gotten bitter now. More cynical. More sarcastic. It's time to start approaching people with a ten-foot pole again. Time to start assuming they're sizing me up on the inside.
I write this because I'm in pain, because I need an audience, and because I can actually trust a group of mostly-strangers more than the folks I have grown accustomed to calling "friends". Is this self-indulgent? Am I looking for a pat on the back? Yeah, I suppose half of me is. The other half wants to warn all of you out there. There are a very, very precious few people on this planet you can truly let your guard down around. Cherish them, and be wary of the rest.