I’m not real good with authority figures. I either get intimidated or defensive. A lawyer, I was raised to believe, is a person of authority. And now I needed one.
Thankfully I know a lot of nice lawyers. One happens to be on my Leadership Team at eWomenNetwork, so when I decided to move forward with the bankruptcy, I reached out to Lynda Hinkle. However, bankruptcy is not one of her many areas of expertise, so she referred me Ira Deiches, a bankruptcy lawyer in Haddonfield. That’s how good networking works…you don’t take on something that is not your strength, instead you defer and refer.
So, I gathered up all my papers and I went to meet with Mr. Deiches. His office was five minutes from what was still “my” condo at that point-but I came up from Atlantic County where I was living, to meet with him.
What I remember most about that meeting was the tissue box. He asked me a couple of questions and the next thing I knew I was a blubbering, crying, pathetic mess. Mr. Deiches said nothing; he just handed me the tissue box.
This quiet gesture soothed me. Bankruptcy is traumatic but a good support system can do wonders.
Bankruptcy can be mind-boggling, too. Chapter 7. Chapter 11. Chapter 13. Did I want to re-organize, did I have a lot of assets, did I need a clean slate? Was it business or personal…or both?
I sat and listened to him. And I wrote down every word he said–I wanted to become educated in the process and take ownership of my decisions.
Leaving his office I felt I knew what I wanted to do. By the time I got home, all the information became a jumbled mess in my head. I sat down with my boyfriend Milt and I realized I was on overload. Too much emotion and too much information to handle at once. Next time Milt was coming with me. A second set of ears was needed.
After two more meetings with Ira (we were now on a first name basis–after all he knew my life story!) the decision was made to file Chapter 7 for both my personal finances and business finances. The personal and the business were intertwined by the collateral on my SBA loan. And the credit card debt in the company name, also carried personal liabilities.
There was a huge sense of relief…there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
But there was no way around it; the condo in Cherry Hill was history. And while I’d let go of a lot of the guilt that was holding me back, I really didn’t want to let go of the condo–it was my security blanket. It was supposed to be my retirement money. Now it was just gone.
I made mistakes and now it was time to pay the piper. The tears come and go, but I am clear that I had no choice. And I am thankful that bankruptcy, no matter how personally painful, was an option for me.
Now is the time to look forward for new opportunities, not look back at lost possessions.
Still, a tissue now and then is understandable.