I've been a lawyer for about ten years now. I've been handling bankruptcy cases for about 8 of those years. I've written countless blog post on bankruptcy law. I've been to bankruptcy court literally over a thousand times. I've faced just about every situation that could happen in a consumer bankruptcy case (chapter 7 and chapter 13), and most importantly, I've sat across the table from a lot of people who are in the reluctant situation of having to file a bankruptcy petition.
No one is ever happy to see me. Why would they be? That's ok. Pretty much everyone I meet with is emotional, and that's ok. I usually get the background story of why they're filing bankruptcy. Lots of pointing fingers at "the economy" and the usual "we've never been behind on our bills until now." All of that is ok. No one likes the situation they are in, and they're probably trying to justify what they're going through on some sort of psychological level. It's all ok. I get it. I want to help those going through bankruptcy because inevitably there is an emotional aspect to it, but this stress can be contained.
Here we go. First, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. If you're going through bankruptcy, you're not alone. So many people have filed for bankruptcy it's ridiculous. I guarantee you you regularly socialize with at least 5 people who have filed for bankruptcy, you just don't know it yet (unless you never go out). No one talks about it. Hey, EVERYONE's president has (multiple times). No one likes to admit they need help. In fact it's the opposite. Most want to posture a stable image. People are proud. We drive cars we can't afford, wear fake watches, carry fake bags, and brag about things we never did, all to impress people we don't care about.
At the end of the day, bankruptcy is all about money. That's why the word "bank" appears in bank-ruptcy. So if you're in bankruptcy, go through the emotions - at first, because that's normal. After that make a decision to make better financial decisions in the future. After that, choose to see your decision to file a bankruptcy petition as a business decision - because that's what it is. If you choose to do this, you will make your life easier, your spouse's life easier, and your lawyer's life easier. So here are the steps of how to handle being a bankruptcy debtor:
1. You're human, allow yourself to go through the emotions if needed.
2. Make a decision to make better financial decisions in the future.
3. Realize that what you are doing is a business move. It's a business decision, and decide to look at it that way.
In closing, I'm a movie guy. I was watching Bridge of Spies the other night. In that movie, a spy is on trial for his life and Tom Hanks is his lawyer. The spy is never nervous. He even always seems happy. When they're ready to start the spy's trial Tom Hanks looks over at his client and asks; "aren't you ever nervous?"
The spy looks at his lawyer and says; "would it help if I were?"
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