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“I’m Facing Bankruptcy” – A True Debt Story – Month Two

By anonymous

This is the true story of a man who lost his business and fell deep into debt. We asked him to tell his story. These are his words which we’ve left unedited. This is a 7-part series and we will be following his progress.

You can read month one here.

Month Two: Facing Bankruptcy I Make a Desperate Call

When I realized that my business was doomed and my debts were wildly beyond my ability to repay, I did what many people do, I suppose. I panicked. I set about trying to liquidate whatever I could in an inadequate attempt to resolve some of the debt. I offered creditors service in lieu of payment. I asked for time. I negotiated dubious arrangements to keep the creditors placated.

It was all a drop in a deep bucket.

I realized I didn’t know very much about dealing with debt so I went online. I don’t know what I was looking for: answers, advice, or commiseration.

I would go online at 2 or 3 am, during those hours when my anxiety prevented me from sleeping. During the first months after my business ceased its operations, my bed became a place I avoided at all costs. I couldn’t bear to lay there with nothing but my thoughts so I sought distraction. And information.

I was fishing around for a way forward. I suspected that bankruptcy would be my only option so did a lot of reading about that. When I read about the impact a bankruptcy would have on my life and credit rating, I felt sick. I wanted to avoid that at all costs, but I didn’t see any other way forward. Bankruptcy seemed like a vice to me, a concrete bunker that would save me but would provide cold comfort in doing so. I did the math. I calculated the costs. I summarized my assets and debts relentlessly; hoping in vain that simply looking at the figures would suggest a solution.

I just didn’t have any knowledge of debt assistance in Canada. Eventually, this lack of knowledge led me to sit down with several bankruptcy trustees to discuss my situation.

The first trustee reviewed my financial situation and my initial solution, which included selling my condo and liquidating all my assets, and suggested bankruptcy would be a better option given the amount of money I owed, which on paper was already around $200,000 plus an additional $250,000 in my office lease. He asked me to come back to him with a more detailed plan. When we reconvened to review the plan a week later, he concluded again that bankruptcy was a viable option and then presented me with an invoice for $267 for the second visit!

I sought a second trustee’s opinion (you can see I was quite ignorant about the role of the trustee in the bankruptcy process. I stupidly believed they worked on my behalf). This trustee gave me a more sympathetic hearing, but never once mentioned options I may want to consider beyond bankruptcy. And now I know why.

I remember going home after the meeting and noticing I had nothing to feed my daughter for dinner that night. By this point, I was down to raiding the coin jar for food money, but the coin jar was also done now. I did what any 50-year old would do in this situation. I called my parents and asked for some money so I could buy some food.

You want to talk about rock bottom? That’s where it was. I never expected to be in such a situation in my lifetime. I wanted to help look after my parents, and here I was having to call on them. My parents had always been proud of my achievements in advertising. I had worked around the world, saved hard and built a successful career. And it had led me to this.

When I wasn’t wallowing in self-pity, I was back online reading. There was a lot of advice, most of it repetitive to the point where I would see word for word duplication. I sat there in my dark room, my daughter sleeping a few feet away, reading and reading and reading.

It took me a few weeks to come to the conclusion that I would have to go the bankruptcy route, which would constrain my cash flow for between 3 to 8 years and destroy my credit rating. Let me tell you, those were lonely and difficult nights. I would watch my young daughter sleep, so beautifully oblivious to my predicament – and by extension hers. I had let everyone down, no one more so than my child, who was about to experience life without the financial security and ready money she had always enjoyed.

I resolved to begin the bankruptcy proceedings and so made an appointment to see the trustee again. On the day before the appointment, I received an email from a friend of mine with a recommendation to contact a debt restructuring firm called 4 Pillars.

“You may not have to lose everything you think you are going to lose. Talk to these guys.” I made a note to call them the next day.

My first month had taken a real toll on me. I had lost about 15 pounds, primarily because I was drinking alcohol instead of eating food. But I had no appetite for food. My stomach was in knots from the moment I woke up until the next time sleep thankfully claimed me.

This is a true story recorded from an actual person who used 4 Pillars. 

The story is 100% his words, unedited. We hope that you follow his progress and know that there are others out there making their way through debt. You can also read 60+ other stories about how other Canadians found 4 Pillars here.


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