A few weeks ago I applied for a credit card.
Many years ago I was pretty responsible with my credit; I made payments on time and didn’t spend exorbitantly. Then isolated living and my addiction entered the picture and I took every cash advance that those cards allowed me. When I went to jail I was unable to pay them all (thank you to family who helped with what they could) and I had several accounts go to collections.
When I returned to society, I worked to pay off those collection accounts and wipe the slate clean. While Neil and I were dating he added me as an authorized user on his credit card (THIS IS TRUE LOVE), but I was terrified to buy anything and when I did it was at his urging or I was buying things for the both of us like food.
I never got my own credit card because it was easier to rely on another person than to actually do the work to rebuild what I had broken down.
So a few weeks ago I decided that I was tired of living as what was essentially a dependent and that I wanted to take steps to rebuild my credit and be able to stand on my own two feet. Neil applied for me since I was in another room (dependency = work in progress) and I got the denial letter a couple days later.
The loans for the grad school that I was politely asked to leave result in a high debt to income ratio for me and there was some indication that the accounts I thought I had cleared up may still have some issues. I went online to decipher the dubious language of my rejection letter, only to have not one, but all three credit bureaus tell me that I would have to call or write in to request a copy of my report.
I did what Erin does best when she is overwhelmed and that was to abandon all hope of a life or future, credit or otherwise. You see, when things get hard I freeze. Before, I would wash away the discomfort with whatever alcohol I could find or look for any substance to stop the feelings for even a moment. Today I can’t do that.
I can’t escape with drugs or alcohol but I can escape with books, TV, food, all those socially acceptable things that don’t raise flags for you as an observer but resound like an alarm inside every part of my body. Some days I need to take a break and some days I need to carry on.
That day I took a break. The next day I took a break. I love breaks, so I took a couple more. Then I remembered an important saying:
“Experience is what we get when we don’t get what we want”
Everything in life grants you experience, but the truly valuable lessons come from the times when things don’t work out the way you want them to.
Think about your successes in life. When things are going your way, you are probably the first in line to give yourself credit and don’t take much time to reflect on the intricacies of those good times. When things don’t go your way or you don’t get what you want, however, there is often a great deal of introspection and questioning.
“Why did this happen to me?”
“What could I have done differently?”
For me, learning from my mistakes has given me a great wealth of information to pass along to others. I have learned the most about who I am as a person by my failures or when interactions and relationships with other people didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to.
If I had been right, like I actually wrote in a journal six years ago, that if I had an “endless supply of narcotics while continuing pharmacy school and working then everything would be fine,” I would have none of this to share with you today. I would have no freedom, no message, no blog, no marriage, and possibly no life. The most growth I have ever experienced has been during the periods following loss or simply not having something go my way.
So I took a break (or five) because even though I know how important it is to keep walking the path, I am still quite easily overwhelmed some days (as I suspect many of us are). Then I tried again.
I can take bad news on face value and give up, or I can learn from those experiences and choose to keep going. I applied for a new credit card through my bank, had to answer follow up questions on the phone that made me feel inadequate all over again, and this morning woke up to this:
In full transparency, they came back and asked about my household income which may have been a factor, but Neil is nowhere on this credit card and if they are looking at the same credit report that the other company was then it still could have been a risk to issue it. In any case, I am finally taking steps at 30 years old to ensure my own individuality and taking responsibility for issues I created for myself in the past.
Better late than never.
PS. I’m still going to figure out what kind of insanity my credit report holds. Wish me luck.
- What experiences have taught you the biggest lessons?
- How do you cope with fear and discomfort?
- Tell me one random thing about whatever you want.
Thanks as always to Amanda for letting me think out loud.