Although life has moved on since the "grand opening" my experiences at the hands of creditors throughout my most difficult months continue to visit me when I meet the people who were in my life at the time. These moments of recall have provided me with a sizable store of character assessments which leap into view as soon as a name or face comes to mind.
Over the extended bank holiday weekend we received a number of invitations which, this year, I have felt able to accept. and it has resulted in rubbing shoulders with many friends and neighbours from our more affluent past. While chatting with them I found myself thinking of their reactions at the height of our financial crisis and I realise many of them have undeservedly not had a mention. So here goes.
- A friend from the financial service industry, in spite of being overwhelmed with serious health issues himself spent numerous hours listening to me while he and I poured over my action plan for the reassembly of my family's life. When I repeatedly broke down distraught, he paused to give me a hug and once I had regained my composure, pressed on. It was on this day and from his and his wife's peaceful home I made my most difficult phone calls. It enabled me to cry and be comforted each time I put down the telephone. His wife gave me jumpers to wear as I shivered from the cold brought on from shock and made lots of hot comforting tea. Later she encouraged me to ride out with her on their horses to give me respite from the onslaught of our creditors for the sake of my sanity. I cannot begin to explain how much their rock like support helped me in those early days and while we had a simple supper at their house last night and I was warmed by these memories.
- A single working mother of three, with a great deal of sadness in her own heart at the time, regularly opened her doors at unearthly hours of the day and night to me. I was distraught with the size of the financial problems I was discovering on a daily basis and needed sanctuary the seemingly unrepentant and uncaring attitude of my husband. It was her faith in God and her passionate belief the family unit is paramount which helped me stick with my marriage at a time when I felt compelled to throw in the towel in disgust. As I watched all our children have water fights in her garden over an al fresco lunch I remembered the hours of compassion she showed me in my hour of need.
- A couple in a neighbouring village who realised Christmas 2008 was likely to be very bleak for our children, sorted out their children's unwanted toys and put together a few things that I could wrap and present on Christmas morning. This act of kindness made it possible for our lack of funds, at an expensive time of year, go unnoticed by our three children on Christmas day. This same couple two weeks later lent us their car and their horse box to move house and supplied us with furniture to make it possible for us to have our first lodger. As I sat amongst their closest friends this weekend while enjoying a barbecue at their house, I remembered how pivotal they were in getting us back on our feet again in those early days.
Not everyone in our lives behaved so caringly and a glimpse of these other people can transport me to much less savoury recollections.
- A friend with whom I had spent a great deal of time supporting during a period in which she was suffering a stress related to a bullying incident at work made a comment which left me both speechless and hurt. In spite of knowing full well we had lost our home only days before, she said she was very angry she had been forced to forgo her holiday because it had taken me six months to pay £700.00 we owed her husband for work done in our property business. He comments left me reeling, emotionally exposed and let down. I had no idea she wasn't sympathetic to my plight or appreciate the efforts to which I had gone to ensure she and her husband were not amongst the £1,000,000 creditors who have remain unpaid.
- Someone I formally regarded as one of my closest friends refused a dinner invitation because unbeknown to me, my husband had previously owed her £250.00 for over a year. Although I immediately paid her from the little money I had at the time, she has never spoken to me since. I wept for many weeks as I felt bereft of the close friendship I thought we had enjoyed for ten years.
- A long standing friend became embarrassed by my frankness about our financial position but quickly switched to being incensed by the fact I was offered bursaries for my three children's independent education. She too has declined my many invitations to socialise. I was deeply saddened this twenty year friendship did not withstand our financial demise.