I’ve been told before that I wear my heart on my sleeve for all to see, but there’s one subject I’ve found it really hard to spill my guts about – and that’s our debt problems. I guess I worry about how people might perceive our situation and judge us based on decisions we made a long time ago.
That’s why most of our friends and family don’t actually know the full amount of debt we’re in. We have tried to tell a select few people from time to time and these people know that we’re in debt but not how much we owe as we didn’t want to face their shocked expressions!
Recently however, I did tell a couple of people that I’m acquainted with about the extent of our debt. I don’t know what made me tell them but I blurted out what I’ve been needing to say for a long time really quickly and then waited cautiously to see what they would say in return.
I was really surprised when I was met with understanding nods and when they each went on to say that they had a little debt themselves and that they knew someone who was in a great big pile of debt, I was even more surprised. (Someone who went bankrupt due to business and another who had an actual shopaholic problem!)
Just getting these responses and not being made to feel like a complete idiot was such a relief. I didn’t know until that point just how good it would feel to unease the burden just for a little while.
The best thing about telling these two acquaintances is that they now understand when I say that I can’t really afford to go out for lunch or dinner (and they don’t push me on it anymore). We’ll just go for a coffee instead or lunch at each others house’s. And because I’ve already told them about the debt, I don’t need to remind myself that it’s an evil secret lurking only in our household. I can mention if I want, and if I don’t want to, then great.
That said, I still don’t feel like I can confess to my family about our situation. I’m not sure they’d understand – you know how you just know your family, right? Maybe one day (when we’re debt free!).
Maybe it felt ok to tell these two acquaintances because I don’t really know them all that well and therefore the risk of them judging me felt less somehow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I deserve to be judged – but it doesn’t mean that I have to like it!
I’d be interested to know what reactions have you had from telling someone about your debt?