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I recently shared my super painful debt story on Chain of Wealth Podcast. That interview inspired me to create this series. Rise From Rock Bottom tells every story from my failure years - and how I overcame them.
At the age of 23, I had a Mercedes Benz truck. My primary source of income was my babysitting job. (I know, don't judge.)
I had a boyfriend who insisted I trade in my convertible (that I loved) for this truck, which he’d “help out” with. (read: he’d pay the bill) I didn’t know how much that truck cost until we broke up and I received the first bill.
All in, the car cost me nearly a GRAND per month.
That’s without any maintenance factored in. I went to get new brakes once and it cost me $850. Replacing the windshield wipers cost me $125. #FacePalm
I struggled to keep making my car payments. I took on additional jobs as a freelancer at night and a waitress on the weekends.
My life turned into a never-ending hamster wheel of making money, paying off debt, using credit cards to feed myself, and then making more money to pay the credit cards off.… Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
It wasn’t long before I maxed out all three of my credit cards and had nothing left to hold me afloat.
So I did the unthinkable…
I called up my car loan company and requested a voluntary repossession of my car.
My credit would tank but I had to take the hit because the bills were tanking my life.
Give your self permission to fall apart
I gave back my car and bought a very cheap 1993 hooptie with a trunk that didn’t close all the way. The lid, held down by a bungee cord, would wobble up and down as I drove. #definitelynotabenz
Each time I sat in the car, which smelled like rust and old age, I would start crying thinking to myself “I used to ride around in style. I used to love my beautiful car. And look at my life now.”
I'm a freakin' loser.
Before downgrading my car, I could easily lie to myself. I convinced myself I’d figure out my financial problems quickly and easily. I’m a smart girl, nothing would hold me back.
I finally faced my truth sitting in my hooptie: I was struggling. I was in pain. I was suffering - alone. That change is here and I can’t outrun it. I have to deal with it.
Yes, that was the first moment I fell apart. (And there were many more moments to follow.)
Don't try to hold everything in. Be honest with yourself - your life sucks. It's okay to let that pain out and cry if you need to.
Give your family a chance to support you
My friends and family knew I was struggling with big life changes and finding my way. But I’d put on my "I'm a big girl, I’ll figure this out" smile.
It was a very convincing facade.
On the inside I was panicking, wondering how I could’ve shoveled myself so deep in a hole, how I could be so stupid, how I could put myself in this position.
Pulling up in my busted up car was the first visible indication anyone had that my life wasn’t as peachy keen as I pretended. I couldn’t hide the fact that I was struggling anymore.
The beautiful gift in not being able to hide your pain is finally being able to talk about it.
Once you’re able to speak your truth, your friends and family have the opportunity to support you… and it may surprise you just how much love and support you receive during your darkest time.
Accept Your Life As It Is
After about a month of driving that car, I completely forgot that I once was a luxury car owner.
I started to own the fact that I was now the owner of this crappy car that took me from point A to point B. Over time, this became my new normal.
Accept where your life is right now and that it was YOUR life decisions that got you here. This acceptance allows you to stop lamenting on the past, brings you into the present, and allows you to start preparing for your future.
Start To Laugh At Everything.
There were several times where the cord that held my trunk closed would break and I’d have to pull over to re-tie it. The first time it snapped, I rested my forehead on the steering wheel and cried until I mustered up enough energy to get out of the car.
I thought to myself “look at me…this is what my life has come to.”
After a while, I’d built a unique skill for driving just slow enough over bumps and dips in the road so those rope-snapping moments became less frequent.
When the rope would break on occasion, I’d giggle to myself and say "Of course the rope broke in the middle of the highway... why wouldn't it?"
Laughing can make all of your hard moments… bearable.
Remember your story is not finished
When you hit a life rut, it can feel like there's no way you're going to get out of this.
When I was obviously on the boarder of breaking down and couldn't take my life any longer I had a friend who would tell me "If you're going through hell, just keep going."
It wasn't very helpful for him to say that. I was hoping for something like "your brighter days are ahead" but there's really no way to tell when those brighter days will come.
Some days you just have to keep going.
As long as you don’t give up on yourself… as long as you’re still our here breathing… your story still has a chance at a happy ending.
Find The Tiniest Thing To Be Grateful For
Even though I was riding around in a hideous car that was forest green with a trunk that didn’t close, I no longer had to pay $1000 a month to maintain my car. I would never again have to worry about fixing breaks for $850 or windshield wipers for $125.
Because I had reduced my spending by so much simply get getting rid of one large monthly expense, I was able to stop working as hard as I was.
Slowly, I started to regain my sanity, feel like myself and rebuild my life.
I was grateful for that opportunity… and my tribulation became my testimony.
Are You Ready To Rise From Rock Bottom?
Listen to my full debt story on the podcast that inspired the Rise From Rock Bottom series.
Build your skills and discover your passions with a FREE personal development class.
For more fun stories and tips on how to improve your life, grab my book Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams.
Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her book, Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams, gives women a step-by-step guide to create, plan and achieve their grandest goals.