John Pitman, Licensed Practitioner of Insolvency, found satisfaction exercising his considerable grey matter finding solutions to impossible problems. We would sit in his small office that bulged with papers tied with ribbons and chat. I would sit on a basic wooden chair opposite him and listen whilst taking notes, never realising how important his wisdoms would become to my life.
We all read in the papers stories leading to traumatic events. People take their lives, even the lives of others. Driven by despair so deep and overwhelming. A dark place from where there is no return, unless you find a way, strength within yourself.
This page is for those people, their friends, advisors and supporters. It may also assist others who are involved in prolonged stress situations, whatever the reason. These simple yet intelligent rules may save a life by helping to bring discipline, purpose and focus into a life that is suddenly upturned and becomes a hell.
In our case it was insolvency. Whether you are a victim of circumstance, or resulting from an action brought about from a bad decision, makes little difference. The nightmare will be the same. You enter a process that is inhumane, devoid of care or sympathy.
You can no longer perceive yourself as a ‘normal average person’. Insolvency transforms you into an ‘extraordinary person’ in a world that, more often than not, reflects the negative side of human nature. You have become a fighting machine in a lonely war. You have commenced a journey which will be made up of many and varied experiences that test you to the limit psychologically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. This journey will affect all aspects of your life and being. You face challenges that will in the end confirm the sort of person you truly are and what you are to become. You will face true fear as foreclosure and the threats of Bailiffs and others descend upon you. You will be traumatised, humiliated by Bank officialdom, their attitude and procedures. You will be brought to the brink of despair by events that take place that will ultimately have effects upon your whole life. In all of this, you will feel helplessness to influence anything. You will be subjected to – and suffer great hurt and pain from – the opinions and actions of others. You will feel as if destroyed, as hopes and aspirations you harboured for the future will be trampled to the ground.
Despite all this, you will find out how strong and resourceful you are. You will learn how to call upon endless resources that are within you. You will come to rely on those inner resources as if your best friends and learn to trust yourself implicitly. This will ultimately change your life – for better or worse – forever.
You are now an ‘extraordinary person’ focussed upon surviving whatever the world throws at you – and it certainly will. You live every minute of your daily life filled with stress, threats, worry, anger, fear and anxiety. You will come to understand that it is not the big things that fell you, but the small. The car not starting, the washing machine that breaks down, the friend who cancels a pre-arranged meeting. These will produce the collapse and the tears. On these occasions, you must recognise you lead a stressful life. You simply can’t cope with more. Attain understanding, give yourself a break, deal with it, let go and continue on your difficult insolvent journey.
RULE ONE: DO NOT LET THINGS GO
Stressed people often let things go. They are in such emotional turmoil on a daily basis that they have no energy or interest in caring for themselves or their home. The home is a mirror that reflects your inner state.
You will be judged. Everything about you is being observed. Live in a chaotic, filthy place and it will not go unnoticed and could go against you. Your Insolvency has caused you to enter a cruel, uncompromising world.
It is important not to let your standards drop. Keep your home clean and in order. Keep the garden maintained. Stick to your routine however you may be feeling whatever you are going through.
The needs of your partner and others within the family have to be considered. Reassurance can be obtained through family routines and standards being maintained.
It may no longer be possible to replace worn out things or buy designer labels, so make visits to the charity shops fun, especially if children are involved.
Become adventurous in your cooking and provide healthy meals with cheaper cuts of meat.
Talk to children without inducing fear and get them involved in money saving ventures and alternative activities that everyone can enjoy.
SEND OUT THE MESSAGE TO THE WORLD YOU ARE IN CONTROL
RULE TWO: FINANCES
Live, breathe and know your finances intimately. Keep a daily record of your income and expenditure.
You will be asked on many occasions to submit detailed information to the Banks and your advisors. This is the beginning of the inhumane process. Many refer to the Banks as heartless. I would say that is polite. You will become victim to institutionalised bullying. What may affect you even more, is that you may have to relive this trauma again and again. There is no humanity or sensitivity in Insolvency. The experience can be comparable to repeated assaults upon your privacy and life. There is nothing you can do about it because that is how it is. That is how things are done. So ‘extraordinary stressed person’ now takes on additional identity and becomes ‘extraordinary stressed traumatised non- person’.
It is vital to have in-depth understanding and control of your spending behaviour so you can prioritise on a day-to-day weekly basis. Reduce waste. Make savings where possible. As time goes by this may become harder. Cut back in order to live another day. Live within your means. Never be tempted to turn to loan sharks or companies that offer instant cash. Don’t accept loans from friends however well meaning they may be. Don’t get into further debt.
Plan, control and justify every penny. Your detailed record can be produced as evidence when you are asked ‘do you buy butter or margarine?’ or as and when your advisors request further information.
IN ALL MATTERS OF YOUR LIFE TRUTH AND INTEGRITY MUST PREDOMINATE
RULE THREE: HEALTH
Every ‘extraordinary stressed traumatised non-person’ is a high risk of health breakdown. It is important to give priority to maintaining your health in order to have the energy to respond to whatever demands are placed upon you and to cope with your highly sensitive and stressed emotions. I do not recommend anyone turn to tranquillisers or sleeping drugs to help them, as they weaken the body’s responses and will create deeper problems, especially if your situation remains unresolved for months or years. Therapies are expensive and may be beyond your reach. If not, choose wisely. Seek help from those therapies that calm, relax and work to enhance your body’s energies and maintain equilibrium. There is enough guidance available to help you to ensure you take care of yourself and lead a healthy life within the constraints available to you.
It is also important to consider that the ‘men in grey suits’ and others who hold your life under a microscope may not look kindly upon any medical/drug history. Quite unjustly – and in my opinion wrongly – you may unexpectedly be accused and judged as being unstable. Keep your medical records clean. Remember BUCKET. You are already living a 100% stressed life. The small things will floor you. Your bucket is full and you can’t cope with more. This is a warning sign. Take heed. Don’t ignore. Deal with it.
Insomnia will become a nightly visitor. It will affect not only yourself but also your partner and family. Look seriously at this and take all practical measures to help yourself and your family.
You will be perceived as a suicidal risk. You are. Be aware of that. You will undoubtedly be taken to the precipice only you can decide to jump or not. There’s no saviour.
Remember you are a human being that needs love, care and kindness. The world you presently exist in may not hold those values. Therefore it is imperative to show gentleness to yourself and receive gentleness from those around you.
LEARN TO LOVE AND VALUE YOURSELF
RULE FOUR: RELATIONSHIPS
If you are married or in a permanent relationship, remember your spouse or partner is also an ‘extraordinary stressed traumatised non-person’ too. It is these situations that bring breakdown to the relationships at some point. The pressure is simply too much to survive.
One important aspect is DO NOT OFF-LOAD. Your partner is struggling with their fears, worries, and insecurities. They can’t take on yours as you cannot take on theirs. So help each other by taking responsibility for yourself and your own emotions. On the occasions when this rule gets broken as undoubtedly it will in time of need or weakness. The consequences will become self-evident from which time will be required to recover.
Lead a simple life. Let calm and peace sustain you and help to charge the batteries. Don’t allow your problems to dominate your existence. Find mutual interests that you still can enjoy.
Friends are more difficult. You will lose many. You will also find your real friends who genuinely appear to care and see you through the good and bad times. You can no longer share their experiences. Discussing the triviality of life such as fashion and holidays becomes meaningless to you. It helps if they understand you can only relate at a distance as your life is severely curtailed as your dreams and aspirations are thwarted. You can no longer travel distances or offer hospitality as you once did and therefore embarrassed by their invitations. Do not off-load onto your friends they have their lives to live. Do not become selfish. Celebrate their achievements and share their ups and downs.
It is extremely important not to become isolated. Give time to your friends and make efforts to meet and socialise. Maintain your interests and try to increase activities within your means.
The process of insolvency is demeaning, punishing and devaluing often leaving feelings of worthlessness. To combat these reactions it is important to reaffirm your identity and belief in yourself. Do a course. Invest in yourself. Be positive.
Everyone is different and how he or she chooses to cope should be respected and never judged
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF
RULE FIVE: CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS
Controlling, overwhelming, powerful emotions are a huge challenge. John Pitman had no solutions beyond the importance of gaining awareness and understanding of the problem,
Your advisors and legal representatives don’t like emotions. The institutions you may deal with don’t like emotions. Those who are in opposition don’t like emotions. You are recognised as an ‘extraordinary stressed traumatised non- person’ yet under no circumstances must you show emotion. Your nightmare increases a hundredfold. Where is the justice, the compassion and humanity in all this? There isn’t any. You are in a big desperate hole. You either survive or you don’t. Show emotion and it will be held against you one way or another.
Lose self-control – however justified or provoked – and it will have consequences. Learn you will not be perceived as the victim, even if you feel you are, however justified. You will end up with a long roll of names that have behaved wrongly, hurtfully, nastily, rudely, insultingly and ignorantly towards you. You won’t forget them but you cannot retaliate however distressing, whatever pain they have caused you. However outraged or desperate you become, however justified you feel it is to react, it is imperative you find the way to contain the feelings and maintain control.
- Become aware that you exist in an unjust, inhumane world. The world you live in everyone can harm you but you are not allowed to respond. Your advisors attend all meetings protecting you from further distress. Your advisors remove emotions from all your communications.
- Find your way to deal with your emotions. Suppressing emotions can negatively affect your health. Be aware. Meditation helps to achieve calmness. Harden up. Realise you are in an alternative reality. Find ways to rise above all that may be occurring around you. Study the motives of others and be aware and on top. The games played out are vicious, but still games. Don’t be broken. Learn to understand that the behaviour of others can be a useful source of information, giving indication of where they are at in the arena of conflict. Trust no one but your advisors and those proved worthy of your trust.
Anger is often perceived as a weakness and not tolerated. Great changes have taken place in society from which we all benefit on a daily basis as a result of someone’s anger. It can be a wonderful motivating force to help withstand injustice and keep you alive and determined to survive the ordeal that you face. So welcome anger but use it wisely.
As time passes it becomes easier to stand on one’s own two feet. You grow into a stronger, self-reliant independent person. You listen to your inner voice, that language of integrity and come to trust your self.
FIND THE ANGEL WITHIN AND RISE ABOVE IT ALL
RULE SIX: DISCIPLINE YOUR MIND
The mind of the ‘extraordinary, stressed traumatised non-person’ who is not allowed to express emotion is very busy indeed. It is no delusion – your very existence and every aspect of your being are under threat. You are in a dark bottomless pit, desperate and helpless.
Financial worries predominate. Coping with the hurt, threats, distress, despair and desperation can be the overwhelming reality. You will feel real fear for your future and that of your loved ones. You question if you even have a future. You feel a burden, the problem, even if the problem may lie elsewhere. The grief of lost years is real and thoughts of the future become more than bleak. You enter a bottomless pit so dark there is no return, unless you find the strength within yourself. It is a desolate place. In that place you need to find a key that will enable you to climb back up and live one more day. For me that key was Injustice, Truth and Restoration for my husband. You will return to the pit many times. You will need to find the key again and again because for some strange reason you seem to forget.
The complexity of the Insolvent life creates a multitasking world in which you must live, be on top of and pay attention too. You respond to the needs to your advisors. Your life must be organised and rational. Your inner world may be completely the opposite: chaotic, fearful, angry, hurt and devastated full of shock and disappointment. Each new day produces a different challenge and somehow you have to keep it together.
Living your life using the skills of Management By Objectives is a useful tool to apply. Visualising walking a tightrope brings focus. Let the tightrope move to the right and you end up in the pit. That you do not want. Stay centred and focussed. Move to the left and you may enter a world of ideas. A place where thoughts come as a never-ending source of light and inspiration to keep you going. The place for the design of wondrous revenge. It can be a great place but again, too much, and other problems may arise. This is not advisable to live in the light either. Stay centred.
So live your life on a tightrope. Focused and disciplined. Centred upon your key. The reason for living, for surviving each day.
WALK THE TIGHTROPE WITH DETERMINATION AND FOCUS
RULE SEVEN: LIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME
The strain upon this ‘extraordinary stressed traumatised non-person’ who cannot express emotion is considerable. The pressure is unrelenting and as a result it is easy to overload the mind and emotions, when mental and physical collapse will result. This must be avoided at all cost. There is no simple solution, as the solution lies with others beyond your reach. The strategy is the responsibility of your advisors. The concerns for yourself and your family are yours to carry.
The greatest danger is when nothing happens. When weeks, months – even years – can pass without apparent movement. It is for you to cope with the desperate feelings that may arise. It is at these times a crisis can occur. You will watch your life diminish and your environment deteriorate. All you want is it all to end. All you want is hope and movement. Anything becomes better than nothing. You sack your advisors. You end your marriage, disappear, kill yourself or burn your house down. Anything is better than facing and living in stagnation. It is at these times the brilliance of these rules come into their own.
Live one day at a time. It grounds you. Reminds you where you really are. What has and hasn’t changed. Take on only the problem of the day. Yesterday no longer matters. Tomorrow is unknown. Stay hopeful. Stay positive. Trust. Stay focused. Have no greater expectation than living one day.
FIGHT DAILY FOR THAT INNER PEACE
RULE EIGHT: HOPSCOTCH
Live your life as if on a hopscotch board. You start your journey on square one. Deal with the issues that present themselves. Don’t look at square two or seek the finishing post. Something will happen that will move you onto square two. You are now in square two. Deal with the issues that square two presents. Don’t look for square three or four. Don’t look back onto square one. Whatever happened whilst on square one no longer applies. What someone said to you or you said to him or her it is no longer relevant. You are on square two deal only with those issues. Something will happen to move you forward to square three. Deal with the issues that it presents. Don’t look at square four or five and don’t seek the finishing post. Don’t look back as what ever occurred in squares one and two has gone and is no longer relevant. Concentrate only on the issues of the square you have arrived at.
This, alongside the rules, will ground you. It will help you to stay centred and stop becoming chaotic, overloaded and eventually unstable.
Your journey depending on its length will encompass a lot of trauma, emotional pain and memories. Visualise a box and put them in there to be dealt with at a later stage if necessary.
REMAIN IN THE HERE AND NOW
RULE NINE: DO NOT MAKE HURDLES
We all make hurdles. Something occurs in our lives demanding a decision and we all think what happens IF this or that happens. Will I cope? Can I do it? These are hurdles that we self-impose. They are not reality and create doubt about our abilities and can even stop our progress.
The insolvency experience is hard enough. The obstacles placed before you are huge. The mountains you face and climb are monstrous. Building more hurdles is quite ridiculous.
Building hurdles comes from an undisciplined mind and from feelings of fear and insecurity within your self. It also indicates you are predicting the future, which is impossible to do.
The insolvent journey is unpredictable. It is necessary to be open to all possibilities and show flexibility. Responses to action taken can produce both good and bad reaction to which you have to respond.
You may place great expectation ‘on the powerful’ only to find they don’t come up to scratch or – due to their disinterest in your predicament – do damage. Then from the most unexpected circumstance you meet a righteous man whose one single action, as if a miracle, changes the course and saves you, allowing you to continue the journey to full resolution.
The insolvent needs to meet righteous men. We have been fortunate to experience this and know it to be true. As a result of their actions we are alive, still in our home and as a result fighting to this day for truth, justice and restoration.
Righteous men teach us a lesson that all it takes is a single action by someone to change for good, a life of another. We give thanks. Are grateful and what was done for us will never be forgotten.
BE OPEN, FLEXIBLE AND POSITIVE IN ALL THINGS
RULE TEN: KEEP CENTRED AND FOCUSED
The ‘extraordinary, stressed, traumatised non-person’ who cannot express emotion is bombarded with so much stimulus, that to lose oneself and what it is all about is not difficult. To introduce confusion, bewilderment, chaos and disarray into your life is not a wise thing.
You need to become self-contained, in control and living in the present dealing with only the issues that present themselves at any one time. Learn to live calmly in order to cope with your stressed life and situation.
Living in the moment will allow you to find peace in chaos. Space to rest. Enjoy what you have in that moment. Appreciate what is around you. Take stock of your life and open yourself to new opportunities. Clarity is required to stabilise. A central purpose brings sense into the madness of it all. A defined purpose a goal to be achieved assists your advisors so you all work together as a team with one voice. A flag to fly tells the world of your determination. For us it was, Injustice Truth and Restoration. Others may fight for the right just to survive, to save their family and its future. They fight to protect or preserve their family’s heritage. Whatever the central purpose is make it your own. Focus upon it. Let it bring meaning into your life and be proud. Believe you will win in the end.
You are an amazing person after all.
CLARITY IS REQUIRED TO STABILISE
RULE ELEVEN: GO FROM WHERE YOU ARE, NOT WHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE
This rule proved to have a great value. It possesses a grown-up stabilising quality, bringing together the other rules under its wing,
The insolvent journey is rough. There will be many disappointments. Rejections, decisions made by others that work against you and genuinely devastate. You are knocked back but have no option but to get back up on your feet, endure the shock and proceed on your journey.
Knowing for whatever reasons the strategic process appears to be losing you weeks and months whilst you wait for something to happen. Grieving over loss of time is pointless because there is nothing you can do about it. You are not in the position to influence events. So stop fretting. Go from where you are, not where you wish to be.
Wishing ’if only’. Wallowing in feelings of resentment when others do something quite unexpected is a complete waste of time and energy. It is entirely out of place.
Accept. That is where you are and respond appropriately in a way that will benefit your cause.
YOU CAN’T INFLUENCE EVENTS, ONLY REPRESENT YOUR CASE
RULE TWELVE: PROTECT YOURSELF
I interpret this rule as not only protecting yourself from the slings and arrows, but in a deeper more profound and wise sense.
To lose your sense of self in these times and in times of desperation is not a good thing and serves no purpose. You are constantly under observation or being judged by someone, and their conclusions may matter.
Taking on and incorporating these guiding rules into your daily life gives strength, discipline, purpose, order, control, confidence and growth to handle the nightmare you are in. Insolvency.
It is important to stay close to your moral code. Don’t be tempted in times of distress or desperation to stray from your beliefs and principles, which have guided you through life.
STAY CLOSE TO YOUR INNER SELF
At some point, you will be informed the nightmare is over. You can return to your normal life. The celebration – whether a glass of beer or champagne, a meal out with family or friends – will hardly represent THE END or what may lie ahead. The truth is, this is rarely the case – it is the beginning of a new insightful challenge. It is a rite of passage. This transition should be handled with great caution, especially if your experience has been especially traumatic or prolonged.
Physically, emotionally and psychologically you have to learn to live again without insolvency, the cause and the consequences of it on a daily basis. You will need to release the memories from every cell in your body, freeing it. Your body has to re-adjust to no longer having to live with, or being under stress or threat and this is no easy task and has to be handled with great care. Psychologically, you have to let go of the fight and learn to become the normal, carefree person you once were. There are also the unresolved painful and difficult emotions and memories to address and deal with.
You are still a health risk and it is not uncommon for people who have experienced similar stressful events in their lives for their bodies to collapse and become ill.
It is at this stage, many make big decisions and change their lives. Marriages break up. Plans for new beginnings are made. Some enter therapy if they feel they need help. Each is required to face the conundrum called PANDORA. Is it possible to keep the lid closed and walk away, or does one have hope that on opening, it will be possible to deal with the evils that befall? Others disappear to a new life leaving all behind. Writing a book helps to move forward into the next phase. Find a cause. Open a charity or become politically involved to bring about change. Start by giving lectures on the subject or simply retire into obscurity, thankful it is all over. All are options chosen by someone after a traumatic experience.
Whatever you decide to do one, thing is for sure – you will never be the same person you were. You and your life have been changed forever.