While living in a foreign country I was always mindful about the rate of exchange between US dollars and the pound. I was always tabulating in my mind, how much does this really cost me? It had to be intentional and thoughtful.
After my wife survived three years of cancer treatment, she achieved remission. We also faced a new reality of deep medical debt. Yes, we had insurance like so many others do facing serious illness. Insured doesn’t mean a pass on bills. It really seemed impossible. How could I even begin to talk to Sherri about our financial future when she already had endured so much? After several conversations with friends and even a financial advisor, it seemed our only options where declaring bankruptcy or passing on debt to our children. As so many families facing catastrophic medical treatment we used every reserve we had just to get through the treatment and pay for chemotherapy prescriptions.
A recent article in the New York Times “‘I Am Drowning.’ The Voices of People With Medical Debt.” got 1200 comments. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/11/upshot/12up-medicaldebt.html?rref=upshot&smid=tw-upshotnyt&smtyp=cur&_r=0 I know Sherri and I aren’t alone in our story.
It seems to me the two biggest motivators for change are desire and discomfort. We had a strong desire to live in physical wellness AND financial wellness. We had both discomfort and desire. Conversely what almost kept me swimming in hopeless options, was shame, guilt, and secrecy. I came to a valley of decision. It is hard for something hidden to be resolved.
I gathered courage and had the talk with Sherri. We joined our resolve and imagined a different future. We talked to our spiritual directors, talked to new financial advisor who were willing to help us think and do things differently. If we could face cancer and survive we could do this together too. We let go of the useless shame and guilt and and got coaching on a doable plan to attack the elephant of debt one step at a time.
It took us two and a half years but we paid down our mountain of debt. Even better, by our willingness to ‘talk out loud’ about what we were doing we passed on hope to others to tackle their debt and get help and hope. If you have a mountain in your life, reach out. Contact a Wellevations team member who is a financial advisor to talk about your needs, or a coach to help you move forward to hope and change. I would be happy to lend you some of the hope I gathered from the people who helped me make the best ‘currency’ exchange. You can exchange fear and shame for courage and hope, you just need a few friends to help you along the way.