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Thinking back to my childhood, I can still remember the terror I felt every time Halloween approached. From the moment decorations started appearing in stores to the night I was supposed to go out trick or treating, I would hardly get any sleep at all. If I ever did manage to drift off, rest was sure to be short lived. I was plagued by such vivid nightmares that I didn't dare close my eyes again for the rest of the night.
The closer Halloween came, the more my stomach tied in knots. It was bad enough that I was afraid of the dark the other 364 days of the year – but with all the monsters, ghouls and goblins walking around, it was just too much for my already overactive imagination to bear. Every creaking floorboard, every knock on the door, every mysterious sound was enough to send me flying three feet into the air. I was convinced there was someone or something ready to jump out at me around every corner.
I will never forget how helpless and vulnerable I felt. I would do everything in my power to avoid dressing up and going out. One year, all I could do was crawl into a ball on my bed and cry. Not knowing what to expect, not understanding how things worked and feeling like I was constantly in danger was complete and utter torture.
Turning Fear into Excitement
As I grew up, my paralyzing fears eventually went away. I learned the "monsters" were just my neighbours dressed up in scary costumes. I learned how to strategize my routes to get the biggest haul of candy and which houses gave away the best treats. Most importantly, I learned how to spot those devious scarecrows, skeletons and zombies who would sit motionless on their lawns and front porches – waiting to spring to life and scare the living daylights out of unsuspecting trick or treaters.
What used to frighten me now filled me with excitement and joy. I could laugh along with the other children (and sometimes parents) as they ran screaming and giggling down the street. I could revel in the adrenaline rush that came from facing my fears head on and having lived to tell the story.
The more I understood how Halloween worked, the more enjoyable it became. The more I realized how much fun it was to dress up and go out with my friends – and even get a little bit scared – the more I looked forward to the end of October and all the excitement it would bring.
An Important Lesson
I often share this anecdote with clients who are noticeably fearful about filing for bankruptcy. They're often so overcome with dread they can't begin to imagine everything they stand to gain. They worry about all the worst-case scenarios – what it might mean for their financial future, what they will have to give up and what other people are going to think. Despite all the potential benefits, I can see they feel as vulnerable, helpless and paralyzed as I did all those years ago.
Just like my Halloween experience, their fear is usually not of bankruptcy itself, but rather the unknown. They worry something will jump out to startle them the moment they let their guard down. And with so much misinformation and so many myths floating around, it's easy to understand why. But also like my Halloween experience, I often see their apprehension give way to excitement and eager anticipation the moment the terrifying illusion is broken and the true nature of the bankruptcy process is finally understood.
Breaking the Illusion
When you first meet with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee for a free, confidential consultation, the first thing you will do is walk through your finances and your current debt situation. You will be met with empathy and compassion. You will be comforted by the wisdom of someone who has seen your situation many hundreds of times before. You won't be forced into anything you don't feel comfortable with and you won't be rushed into making an immediate decision. Instead, your trustee will present you with options, explain the benefits and drawbacks of each and give you time to consider which is right for you.
When you discuss bankruptcy, you'll learn it is a legal process meant to allow honest but unfortunate debtors a chance for a fresh start. You'll gain an understanding of what bankruptcy means in your unique situation – including how long the process should be expected to last, what you will be expected to contribute and what it will mean for your long term financial health.
The more you learn, the more your fears will begin to lift.
Once you have all the information you need to make the best possible decision for your financial future, you can choose your preferred path forward and whether a bankruptcy is the right one for you. You may even discover bankruptcy is a tool to help you deal with your other fears:
Debt can be scary, but bankruptcy doesn't have to be.
Based out of Saint John,
Tara Silliker is a Licensed Insolvency Trustee and Vice President at MNP LTD. To learn more about how MNP Debt can help, contact our local office at 506.799.5820 or toll-free at 310.DEBT (310.3328).
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